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Prevention strategies


How do we stop violence against women?

The drivers of violence against women can be addressed through primary prevention strategies.   

What we know is that primary prevention strategies work best when they are delivered in the places where people live, work, play and learn (VicHealth 2007; State of Victoria 2016; P20 VAW overview).

Types of prevention

To build widespread social and structural change, there are three levels of action needed that are known as primary, secondary and tertiary.

Primary prevention

The White Ribbon Australia Campaign and associated programs focus on primary prevention.

Primary prevention approaches work across communities, organisations and society as a whole to address the deep, underlying drivers of violence against women, so that violence does not happen at all[1]. It focuses on changing commonly held attitudes and behaviours that support and encourage gendered violence. Primary prevention action to stop men’s violence against women is implemented before violence occurs and aims to stop the likelihood of men and boys using violence against women and girls. This prevention action does this by addressing the root causes of violence.

Examples of primary prevention include:

• Government policy establishing frameworks and standards for preventing violence
against women and promoting gender equality.

• Public information and awareness-raising in mass media, workplaces and communities

• Educational programs in schools

• Programs in workplaces

Secondary prevention

Secondary prevention (also called ‘early intervention’) works in more targeted ways to stop early signs of violence by specific people, communities or contexts from escalating. Secondary prevention is successful when violence is avoided or stops: victims are no longer victimized (e.g. by leaving a violent relationship) or perpetrators have stopped being violent.

Examples of secondary prevention include:

  • Behaviour change programs for men who are violent or abusive

  • Home visits from social workers for new mothers at risk of violence

Secondary prevention is aimed at individuals and groups at risk of being victims or perpetrators of violence. People who have survived violence and perpetrators also benefit from secondary prevention.

Tertiary prevention

Tertiary prevention aims to stop the recurrence of existing violence and/or minimise its impacts through direct intervention with people using abusive and violent behaviours2.

Examples of tertiary prevention include:

This work can directly support primary and secondary prevention by reducing perpetration and victimization. Tertiary prevention also indirectly contributes to prevention by helping shape community attitudes about violence against women.


[1] Vichealth https://www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/-/media/ResourceCentre/Publicationsand

2 Vichealth. (2017). Violence against women in Australia. An overview of research and approaches to primary prevention. https://www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/-/media/ResourceCentre/Publicationsand