Resolving the prevention paradox: The role of communities and organisations in the primary prevention of violence against women

Stream: Rethinking Prevention: Evidence and Practice
Date: Thursday, 12 February 2015
Time: 11.00 am – 12.45 pm


The focus of primary prevention efforts to reduce violence against women (VAW) in high-income countries has been on changing attitudes and norms. However pro-violence norms are closely linked to structural gender inequality and the two are mutually reinforcing. The prevention paradox is that positive shifts in attitudes and norms are undermined by gender inequality, but increases in VAW can be triggered when improvements in gender equality occur in the absence of normative and attitudinal change leading to backlash. This paper reports on a study of best practice in engaging boys and men VAW primary prevention. It argues that “whole of community” and “whole of organisation” prevention programming provides a sensitive and practical resolution to the prevention paradox. These programs enable community and organisational members to identify the relationships between inequality, attitudes and VAW in their lived experience and then act collectively to change the social determinants of VAW. However the paper notes the limited resources available to program participants to effect change in gender inequality, particularly in community settings, and emphasises the importance of considering class as well as gender in primary prevention intervention.


Michael Salter (Presenter), University of Western Sydney
Dr Michael Salter is a lecturer in criminology at the University of Western Sydney. He is a consultant to
VicHealth and Women NSW on the primary prevention of violence against women. His research is focused on
the intersections of gender, violence and culture. His book Organised Sexual Abuse (2013, Routledge) was the
first Australian study of multi-perpetrator child sexual abuse. He was recently awarded the 2014 New Scholar Prize by
the Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology for his study of online revenge and justice-seeking
following sexual assault.