Government spends big on primary prevention of sexual violence and harassment

By Melissa Coade

Friday September 3, 2021

Anne Ruston has announced federal funding for advertising and resources tackling the national scourge of sexual violence and harassment. 
Anne Ruston has announced federal funding for advertising and resources tackling the national scourge of sexual violence and harassment. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

Minister for women’s safety Anne Ruston has announced federal funding for advertising and resources tackling the national scourge of sexual violence and harassment. 

Universities Australia will receive $29 million to create the primary prevention materials including advertising and resources to be distributed on campuses next year. 

The funding will also support an expansion of the Our Watch ‘Respect and Equality in TAFE’ initiative which currently runs in Victoria.

In a statement on Thursday, Ruston said that there was a demonstrated need for primary prevention efforts in higher education institutions like universities and TAFE. 

Funding has also been allocated to the University of New South Wales and LGBTIQ+ Health Australia to co-design pilot projects for people with diverse sexual orientations and gender identities, or who are intersex. 

The Australian Human Rights Commission will also receive $5 million from the federal government to develop primary prevention initiatives in response to the [email protected] report

The minister added that the Australian government was working on developing a new public consent initiative to ‘better inform young people and adults about consent, sexual violence and respectful relationships’.

“The Morrison government is working to strengthen the capacity of all sectors to address sexual harassment to ensure women and girls of all ages can be safe at work, while studying, in public and online,” Ruston said.

“While we are seeing community attitudes change, we know there is more that needs to be done.”

According to an evaluation of the government program Stop it at the Start, ‘Unmute yourself’, Ruston said 68% of people surveyed recognised the campaign. Apparently three in five people reported to the survey that they took action as a result of the campaign — to either personally try and be more respectful to others, or intervene when others were behaving disrespectfully to another person. 

“National and targeted initiatives will involve promoting and improving positive bystander responses as well as addressing disrespectful attitudes which may be learned from a young age,” Ruston said. 

The minister also flagged a National Summit on women’s safety, which The Mandarin has previously covered, scheduled to take place next week on a virtual platform.

Expert panellists will discuss preventing and responding to sexual violence at the summit, and the discussions will inform the government’s next national plan to end violence against women and children.


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