The importance of whole-of-community responses in the primary prevention of violence against women has been reinforced by Centacare at a parliamentary inquiry into family, domestic and sexual violence.

The House of Representatives Social Policy and Legal Affairs Committee last week heard from representatives of a broad range of organisations working to address domestic and family violence across the country.

Appearing via videoconference before the Committee, Jonathon Louth, Executive Manager of Strategy, Research and Evaluation at Centacare, said a broad approach was needed in community and school settings to “mobilise, activate and sustain’’ primary prevention initiatives and affect long-term change.

Dr Louth highlighted the Power to End Violence Against Women (PTEVAW) program – delivered by Power Community Ltd in schools to male Year 10 students – and the Northern Territory-based NO MORE campaign, which works across multiple communities.

Both programs engage with men and boys around awareness and behaviour change, and challenge gendered stereotypes that can encourage violence against women.

A 2018 Flinders University evaluation of the programs recommended PTEVAW be extended to create a whole-of-school approach. This would include involving girls and developing student leaders and allies to assist with delivering the program to their peers.

“If you’re going to work with schoolkids alone, that’s not going to get the outcomes that you want,’’ Dr Louth told the Committee in Canberra.

“You need to work with the school and the school communities; you need to make it broader… it’s that `whole of’ that’s really important for primary prevention.

“…there will be ebbs and flows. It’ll take a long time to see changes in population level data, but the commitment needs to be a primary prevention over the long term, and it needs to integrate across the whole service delivery sector in terms of looking at family, domestic and sexual violence.

“There are some important components in that, in terms of listening to women in those communities, and also the importance of women-specific services within that.’’

The evidence the Committee gathers, and the recommendations of its inquiry, will inform the next National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children.

Terms of reference include immediate and long-term measures to prevent violence against women and their children, and improve gender equality.