Australians’ attitudes to violence against women and gender equality

Findings from the 2017 National Community Attitudes towards Violence against Women Survey (NCAS)
Family violence Violence against women Violence prevention Public opinion Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) Australia
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Intimate partner violence, sexual assault, sexual harassment and stalking are prevalent problems with serious consequences for women, their children and wider society.

Many factors contribute to this violence and arise at the individual, relationship, community, organisational and societal levels. There is evidence that violence against women can be prevented before it occurs by addressing the underlying factors that cause the problem. Prevention action complements but is separate from responses after violence has occurred. However, both forms of action are required to reduce the prevalence of violence over time.

Attitudes towards gender inequality and violence are among the many factors that contribute to this violence. Indirectly, they can influence the responses of service providers as well as those of family, friends, neighbours and work colleagues of those affected. Attitudes can also influence perpetrators and women subject to violence. Since attitudes reflect the world around us, measuring these over time is one way of monitoring progress towards addressing the problem.

The NCAS is a periodic telephone survey (mobile and landline) of a representative sample. In 2017, more than 17,500 Australians aged 16 years and over were surveyed about their:

  • knowledge of violence against women;
  • attitudes towards this violence and gender equality; and
  • intentions if they were to witness abuse or disrespect towards women.

It is one of the main mechanisms for measuring progress against the six National Outcomes as outlined in The National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022 (the National Plan; Council of Australian Governments, 2011). Another is the Personal Safety Survey (PSS), which measures experiences of violence (Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), 2017). Previous waves of the NCAS have been conducted in 1995, 2009 and 2013.

This report records findings for the Australian community as a whole. Responses from people born overseas, Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders and young people are included in the total sample. Findings for these groups are not analysed separately here, but in dedicated reports (forthcoming).

*Please note: an associated survey methodology report can be accessed here

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ANROWS Research report 03/2018