Department of Health

The 2015–16 Royal Commission into Family Violence recognised that preventing family violence is essential for the health and wellbeing of the Victorian community and requires long-term investment.

Impact of family violence

Family violence has far-reaching and serious impacts that include poor physical and mental health, loss of housing, loss or limited access to employment, precarious financial security, isolation and alienation of extended family and social support and, in extreme cases, death (Australia's National Research Organisation for Women's Safety 2016).

The cost to Victoria of violence against women was estimated at $5.3 billion in 2015–16 (KPMG 2017).

The 'primary prevention' of family violence means stopping violence by identifying and addressing its causes.

Sustained investment and efforts are necessary to reduce family violence and address its significant social and economic costs.

Primary prevention requires a whole-of-community approach to drive social and cultural change to address the norms, practices and systems that condone or enable violence.

Drivers of violence against women

Research indicates that factors associated with gender inequality are the most consistent predictors of violence against women (Our Watch 2015).

The gendered drivers of violence against women are:

  • condoning of violence against women
  • men's control of decision-making and limits to women's independence
  • rigid gender roles and identities
  • male peer relations that emphasise aggression and disrespect towards women.

Primary prevention work

From 2015–16 to 2020–21, the Victorian Government has committed $121 million for primary prevention of family violence and all forms of violence against women. This includes $38.8 million to implement the Free from Violence primary prevention strategy.

Through the Free from Violence primary prevention strategy’s First action plan 2018–2021External Link , the Victorian Government is investing in strategies to ensure that prevention messages and programs reach people in the places they live, work, learn and play.

Evidence-based primary prevention initiatives, such as direct participation programs, organisational development and communications, are being delivered to address the drivers of family violence (Our Watch 2015).

Key initiatives include:

  • establishment of Respect Victoria, an authority for primary prevention to lead Victoria’s research, public engagement and behaviour change agendas
  • 'Respect Women: Call it Out' behaviour change advertising campaigns, which provide the community with tools to call out disrespectful and sexist behaviour
  • antenatal and postnatal parenting programs
  • respectful relationships education in schools
  • primary prevention in TAFEs and universities
  • partnerships with local government and women’s health services
  • innovative community-led initiatives, including with Aboriginal, and culturally and linguistically diverse communities, LGBTIQA+ communities, and in settings such as the arts and sport
  • building the primary prevention workforce.

To support building the evidence base on what works to prevent violence across the community, Free from violenceExternal Link focuses on research, monitoring and evaluation.

Research is being undertaken in areas where there is less evidence and understanding, such as elder abuse, violence against people with a disability, adolescent violence and violence within LGBTIQA+ communities.

Find out more

The Public health and wellbeing progress report also includes information on family violence prevention in Victoria.

The Our Watch websiteExternal Link also includes information on family violence prevention in Victoria.


Australia's National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) 2016, A preventable burden: measuring and addressing the prevalence and health impacts of intimate partner violence in Australian women: Key findings and future directionsExternal Link , ANROWS, Sydney.

KPMG 2017, The cost of family violence in VictoriaExternal Link , summary report.

Our Watch 2015, Change the story: a shared framework for the primary prevention of violence against women and their children in Australia, Our Watch, Melbourne.

Reviewed 06 December 2023

Your health: Report of the Chief Health Officer, Victoria, 2018

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