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Australian Violence Prevention Awards

1993 award winners

Commended awards

"Going Steady-Steady Going"

"Going steady-steady going" (Qld) commenced operation in 1992. It provides information to schools using video, survey findings and study guides produced by the Brisbane Domestic Violence Resource Centre Inc. The program provides indicators of dating violence for young girls, and steps they can take to avoid harm. It also encourages boys to change or avoid "rape supportive" attitudes.

The main elements of the project are:

The survey findings used in the project, "Boys Will Be . . . ", came from a preliminary report on a survey of Year 9 male students and their attitudes to forced sex, produced by the Domestic Violence Resource Centre in September 1992. It was prepared from a survey of schools in the Brisbane metropolitan area, and involved at least two lessons at each school*the first to elicit attitudes and opinions and to distribute a short survey, and the second to provide feedback and discuss issues arising from the results. The survey was based on a North American survey of teenagers by the University of California, Los Angeles, with minor modification.

The results indicated alarming attitudes towards rape. One in three boys believed it was "okay for a boy to hold a girl down and force her to have sexual intercourse" if she had "led him on". Another 19 per cent were unsure whether or not this was acceptable. Though 55 per cent of boys believed it was unacceptable to force a girl to have sex if she made him sexually excited, 27 per cent thought it was OK and a further 18 per cent were not sure. Across the schools, there was a common belief that girls often said "no" when they really meant "yes". Of further concern was that a large majority of boys believed that they could ascertain, with some confidence, from tone and volume of voice and non-verbal communication when "no" meant "yes" and when it meant "no". Many males had already engaged in behaviour that could be characterised as abusive, sexually harassing and demeaning for females, and did not realise that their behaviour may have been offensive or even illegal. Little variation was evident across the schools surveyed.

The PAIR program for adolescents addresses the issue of violence in relationships. It includes a fifteen-minute video It won't happen to me that recounts a woman's struggle with an abusive partner; a series of 40-minute lessons on different aspects of violence in relationships; and extensive student worksheets, teaching material and background reading.

A reference group including researchers from Queensland University of Technology, members of Men Against Sexual Assault and staff of the Domestic Violence Resource Centre conducted a longitudinal evaluation. In addition, an evaluation of the PAIR program noted an overwhelmingly positive response and other feedback has been generally favourable.

"Exploring Together"

The "Exploring together" program (Vic.) was developed as a tripartite operation between Melbourne City mission, the La Trobe University and the Victorian Ministry of Schools Education, to help aggressive children to improve their social skills and help parents to improve their parenting skills. It targets students at primary school level whose behaviour problems interfere with learning in the classroom, adversely affect their relationships with peers and family, and have not responded to the usual range of management strategies used by the school. The children who participate in the program exhibit behaviour described as either "acting out" or "acting in". The "acting out" behaviour is generally aggressive, and such children are often characterised as bullies. The "acting in" children are generally withdrawn and often become victims.

After participating in the program, 74 per cent of the children were rated by both parents and teachers as showing a decrease in aggressive behaviour. Percentage improvements recorded to date for other common behaviours ranged from 64 per cent with general social difficulties to 79 per cent for attention problems. Formal and informal reports from teachers and families who have been involved in the program indicated that it has achieved results for them where other programs have failed.

The program consists of a children's group, a parent's group and meetings for parents and teachers who cannot attend the group. It assists the child to develop new or more appropriate social skills, and assists the parents to develop new or different parenting skills and strategies. The program also works to strengthen the family unit by attempting to increase the involvement of those who are important in the child's life, namely parents and teachers. It is actively evaluated and has a strong emphasis on therapeutic content. It operates on a "train the trainer" model so that it can continue to expand without significant increases in staff.

The program is based on the premise that effective early intervention/prevention programs which are multifaceted and use a coordinated approach toward the aggressive child, involving their parents and teachers, are required if delinquency and violence are to be reduced. The group based program is conducted in either a school environment or a community agency.

The organisers propose to take the program interstate to South Australia, Queensland and Western Australia in the near future.

Tangentyere Night Patrol

The Tangentyere Night Patrol (NT) is a volunteer group established by the Tangentyere Council in Alice Springs in late 1990 and led by Aboriginal ex-alcoholics who had undertaken courses in alcohol counselling and first aid. Its original aim was to minimise violence during the Christmas and New Year period. The group patrolled the Aboriginal town camps on a regular basis to help minimise violence using non-violent methods. The patrols proved so successful that they won sufficient support from the local community, the Police and ATSIC to operate on a permanent basis in Aboriginal town camps and the Central Business District.

The Night Patrol operates throughout the municipality but its effects are more readily observable with the Central Business District of Alice Springs. The Todd Street Pedestrian Mall had become virtually a "no go" area for tourists and locals alike during the late evening, because of the number of assaults and acts of vandalism committed by youths, many of whom were of Aboriginal descent. Due to the activities of the Patrol, in cooperation with the Police, the Todd Mall has become a pleasant venue for an evening stroll.

Map : the town camps of Alice Springs

The members of the patrol use negotiation rather than confrontation and have earned the respect of offenders as well as law enforcement agencies. Patrol members are sensitive to situations and groups which have the potential for violence or other crime, and seek to defuse aggression by friendly advice and assistance. Patrols regularly convey people home or to appropriate shelters or even to hospital if necessary. They endeavour to assist drunken people and provide follow-up assistance in an attempt to break the alcoholic cycle.

Children are a particular concern to the Patrol and attempts regularly are made to provide them with transport and accommodation. Moves are also under way to set up a supervised recreation area for young people.

By December 1992 the police noted a considerable reduction in criminal damage and street disorder within the Central Business District since the introduction of the Night Patrol. In a comparison of the years 1991-92 and 1992-93 it was evident that, while there was an overall increase of 4.2 per cent in matters categorised as "anti-social incidents" reported to the police in Alice Springs, and increases in reports of disturbances and drunkenness, reports of assaults had declined by 20 per cent and criminal damage by 10 per cent.

The Tangentyere Night Patrol now has a protocol agreement with the Northern Territory police and the Alice Springs DASA Sobering-up Centre allowing the Patrol to convey persons requiring protective custody due to intoxication to the shelter for care. Similarly, the ongoing mutual interaction between police and the TNP enables the police to request assistance or indeed delegate to the Patrol the resolution of some matters reported to the police.

The Patrol uses and strengthens Aboriginal mechanisms for social control, thereby ensuring that traditional methods are afforded a key role in the control of anti-social behaviour, minor criminal infractions and potentially serious criminal incidents in the Aboriginal community. Police report that since the introduction of the night patrols criminal damage and street disorder within the Central Business District had been considerably reduced. As with other such community initiatives, the Tangentyere Night Patrol is a positive strategy towards the diversion of Aboriginal people away from the formal criminal justice system and addressing the disproportionate rate of detention of members of the Aboriginal community.

Women's Safety Project

The Women's Safety Project was established by the Queensland Police Service to undertake extensive consultation with the community, government departments, media, and police with a view to recommending, developing and wherever possible, implementing strategies to enhance the safety of women in Queensland. The focus of the project is on the prevention of actual violence as well as the reduction of heightened fear of violence against women. The project aims to provide women with accurate and current information on safety and how they can be in control. The material used empowers potential victims of violence with positive information, strategies, self-protection, advice and referral lists.

Though the information is specifically applicable for all women, it can be easily adapted to mixed groups. The Safety Audit Program used in the project is targeted to the whole community*to anyone who is interested in the safety and security of their local environment.

Illustration

One special aspect of the project is the importance given by a police service to the concerns of women in the community about self-protection and the fact that resources were specifically allocated to address these concerns. The project is additional to the Police Service's general facilities, such as the Sexual Offences Investigation Squad and the Domestic Violence Prevention Unit, for women who have been subjected to violent crime.

The Queensland Police Service acknowledges that violence against women is a complex and multi-dimensional problem for crime prevention agencies, and that it requires the cooperation of the community, government departments, the media and the police. The Women's Safety Project has established broad links throughout the community and government agencies to seek their input into the direction and development of the program.

Safety audits

Two main strategies were selected for development: Safety Audits and the Step Ahead crime prevention material on personal safety.

The Safety Audit concept was adapted from the Toronto, Canada, experience where, after a series of rapes and murders in 1982, the women of the city decided to take action to increase the safety of public spaces in their city. Groups of women audited the City of Toronto and identified the areas in which women did not feel safe. In Queensland, Safety Audits bring together community groups, local government, police, business organisations, public utilities, Telecom, and others to inspect their neighbourhood and determine what, from their particular perspective, is necessary to make the community safer. As everyone has a different perception of what is fearful, each team has a balance of men, women, students, and the elderly.

The pilot program in Morningside Police Division vetted the majority of the suburb's public spaces and transport systems and reported back to the Government and Council through an extensive Action Plan. The concept was also trialled on a university campus and in the grounds of a major hospital. The Department of Transport took up the concept and announced that safety audits and beautification schemes were under way on train stations throughout Brisbane.

One outcome of the Morningside pilot program was the concept of "safety stops". Recognising that every bus stop cannot be upgraded to the ideal, a recommendation was put forward for local government and public utilities to come together to coordinate and plan stops at key areas along the route which would have shelters, lights, taxis, phones, bus timetables etc within a close radius.

Following the pilot, the Women's Safety Project also developed a comprehensive Safety Audit Kit for use by other communities. In addition, during the 1992 election the Government announced a support mechanism for the program which would enable community groups to obtain small grants to help defray the costs of running the Audit. The Government also allocated responsibility to the Administrative Services Department to look at outcomes of Audits and if necessary, to coordinate action to rectify problems they identified. That Department has established a Neighbourhood Safety Audit Unit, which with the Police Service's Crime Prevention Bureau now takes primary carriage for the Safety Audit Program.

The Step Ahead campaign derived from a brochure, Safety Tips for Women Motorists, which the Women's Safety Project developed with the Royal Automobile Club of Queensland following a series of attacks on women motorists in late 1991. The first stage of the campaign saw the launch of nine brochures with information for women:

The information in the brochures was checked by experts in their respective fields and by the Women's Safety Reference Group which draws on the expertise of over 40 people from the community, police, government and non-government agencies. The Step Ahead brochures were launched in July 1992. To supplement the brochures, the Women's Safety Project also developed a lecture kit for police who address community groups on women's safety issues. The kit includes a video with tips for women on crime prevention.

The success of the campaign has resulted in requests for assistance in the development of government policy on the Prevention of Violence Against Women Training Program and other initiatives.

Warilla "Parents as Teachers" Program

The Warilla "Parents as Teachers" Program (NSW) is a support program for parents of children up to the age of 3, and employs a parenting consultant to ensure that both parents are supported during the adjustment to their baby's needs, and provided with essential skills.

The Program aims to prevent child/family violence. A support program for parents of very young children, up until the age of three, was established on a trial basis at Warilla Public School in 1991. It started with a Parenting Consultant working two and a half days a week.

The program caters for twelve families with a first newborn child who receive one visit per month from the Parenting Consultant. Referrals to the program are made by the local Early Childhood Nurse. Group meetings and drop-in mornings are held regularly. The program ensures that both parents are supported during periods of readjustments in response to their baby's needs. It also teaches essential skills such as settling babies to sleep, and financial management.

The most significant positive outcomes of the program to date are increased self-esteem and heightened awareness of the value of and importance of child-rearing. The short-term effects of the program are already visible in increased parental participation in all aspects of the educational process, together with noticeable changes in the behaviour of some children.

Resources for Teaching Against Violence

Resources for Teaching Against Violence (NSW) is a kit developed by the NSW Department of School Education to assist teachers in the areas of disruptive behaviour management, domestic and other forms of violence. It is designed to encourage the development of locally appropriate programs.

The Resources for Teaching Against Violence Kit reminds all associated with schools of the value of planned, coordinated approaches which link behaviour management, curriculum, staff training and community resources. The kit provides initial assistance to teachers in the areas of disruptive behaviour management, domestic violence and violence associated with homophobia. It targets the staff of 2 200 government schools in New South Wales and in particular, staff providing training and planning activities for teachers.

The kit was developed in collaboration with a wide range of community groups, including the NSW Domestic Violence Committee, the Police Service, gay and lesbian community groups and members of the NSW Teachers Federation. Kits were produced for Education Resource Centres in each region at minimum cost, and much of the material is intended for photocopying for subsequent ease of distribution.

Each kit consists of three sections: managing aggressive and disruptive student behaviour, some effects of domestic violence, and violence against homosexual men and women. Each section has two parts: questions and answers about myths and facts in these areas, and resources and reference materials. The section on domestic violence represents the results of broad community collaboration and as a result some local domestic violence committees have cooperated with schools in running courses for students. The kit has application to other settings and requests for it have come from other States and from overseas.

  • assessment of students' attitudes towards coercive sexual behaviour;
  • use of the Preventing Abuse in Relationships (PAIR) video and study guides with the students, to build more positive attitudes and behaviours about relationships; and
  • parent discussion nights with the parents of students involved, where possible, to inform parents of any disturbing attitudes in their children and to develop strategies to address them.
  • Safety in the car;
  • Safety out and about;
  • Safety on public transport;
  • Safety around the home;
  • Safety for teenagers;
  • Safety in the workplace;
  • Self-confidence and self-defence;
  • Rape and sexual assault; and
  • Preventing violence against women (information for men).