There is strong community support for the cessation of extreme violence against women. A significant barrier to achieving this change is low recognition of the heart of the issue and where it begins. There is a clear link between violence towards women, and attitudes of disrespect and gender inequality. These attitudes are unconscious, yet firmly entrenched, among many Australian adults and children. As adults, we are allowing young people to develop these attitudes from an early age. Often unknowingly, we are perpetuating the problem. Before community change can be achieved, people will first need to recognise the problem, and our personal role. There are three dominant heuristics which will need to be recognised for the communications to be effective.
Victim blaming: When presented with a hypothetical scenario of disrespectful behaviour, there are consistently high levels of automatic victim blaming. As a result, many young males externalise the behaviour by blaming others, and many young females internalise the experience by blaming themselves.
Minimisation: Many actions that signify inequality, disrespectful and aggressive behaviour are considered by adults as social misdemeanours rather than behaviours that should be corrected and modified.
Empathy with male: There is a strong desire to avoid blaming males, and a sense that participating in these behaviours is a rite of passage that should be understood rather than addressed. There is little empathy towards the female experience.
While a primary prevention campaign targeting influencers will have some benefit among CALD and Indigenous audiences, intervention via policy and programs will also be required in order to address the scale of the issue among these communities.