Our Watch was established to drive nationwide cultural change to prevent violence against women and their children. In 2015, alongside ANROWS and VicHealth, Our Watch developed Change the Story: a shared framework for the primary prevention of violence against women and their children in Australia (see https://www.ourwatch.org.au/What-We-Do/National-Primary-Prevention-Framework).
While Change the Story focuses specifically on violence against women, we know that children are frequently exposed to violence against their mothers, female family members and carers. Research shows where family violence is present it often occurs alongside child sexual abuse, physical abuse and neglect. Children’s direct experience of and/or exposure to violence can result in significant harm including attitudes to relationships and violence, behavioural, cognitive and emotional functioning and future education and employment prospects. And while not inevitable, it can also lead to a higher risk of violence perpetration and potentially victimisation.
Despite these connections, these two issues are often isolated. Responses have largely developed independently in distinct ministerial portfolios, fields of research and practice with different histories, ideologies and practices.
Our Watch will present on Change the Story and open a broad discussion about how protecting Australia’s children is intrinsically connected to preventing violence against women and how we can learn from each other’s work.