Even in this 21st century, domestic violence especially against women is still a matter and problem to recon in Australia. What is evident is that the media, domestic violence organizations, researchers, the police force and even politicians have acknowledged gender inequality that is dominant in Australia’s culture as the root cause of this problem. Alongside these is other stubborn stereotypes concerning the role of women and men in the society. It is believed that if these stereotypes and gender inequality is adequately addressed, then there is no doubt that domestic violence will be curbed to a significant level. This proposal is about the necessary changes required to deal with gender stereotypes and inequality as a means of addressing domestic violence in the Australian context.
Gender inequality is defined as the unequal distribution of power between men and women as well as adherence to narrow and rigid gender stereotypes and roles. It is the patriarchy alongside other sexist assumptions that align with it that have been attributed to the root cause of domestic violence against women. The welfare of women and society at large is the welfare of the nation. It is agreeable that the problem of domestic violence in Australia requires a national prevention strategy of its kind. Nonetheless, such a strategy needs to take into account the conception of gender inequality as the main cause of domestic violence. In this regard, there is a greater need of transforming relations between women and men at each level. This will work towards significantly reducing it. However, it should be noted that no other state has implemented such an approach in a nationally endorsed and systematic way (Alcorn, 2016).
The first approach should be development of school based programs and even curricular to address gender attitudes and norms. Such initiatives should address sexual abuse, violence against a person of the opposite sex and other gender norms. This will work towards ingraining the right attitude on the youth and children regarding gender roles and deconstructing the wrong perceptions. Such a program has recorded positive results in such countries as the United States of America. The second approach should be conducting a public awareness campaign through such platforms as mass media, newspapers, radio, and television to change perceptions against gender norms in the society. However, such a communication must be tailored towards a specific target audience in order to be effective. The third approach should be instigating community interventions through such projects as initiating microfinance schemes for women as well as means of empowering men as partners against domestic violence. The effectiveness of such a program can be exhibited by the Image microfinance, a South Africa gender equity initiative as well as Stepping Stones program in Asia and Africa. There is also a strong evidence that community programs that have incorporated male peer groups have managed to change attitudes towards violence behavior and conventional gender norms. However, according to a report by the World Health Organization (2015) the effectiveness of such community interventions can be reinforced community engagement and well trained facilitators.
From Australia’s strategy and aid documents, it is evident that the country is highly committed towards ending domestic violence. However, over the years, the focus of the government has been promoting gender equality through empowering women economically and socially. Interestingly, there have been little efforts towards inculcating the right attitude among the young population through the national curriculum. In essence, the government has been prioritizing on women empowerment initiatives while ignoring the central role education and awareness plays in changing the minds of boys and men. The state has also responded by improving the quality of services and responses, improved access to prevention and justice and recognizing the role of non-governmental organizations in responding to this peculiar issue (Department of Foreign Affairs and Aid, 2017). However, in all these efforts, in all these efforts, little attention is given towards monitoring the role of cultural perceptions and stereotypes against women and putting on strategies on how these can be eliminated.
According to unwomen.org (2020), working with young people is a “best bet” for sustained, faster progress in eradicating and preventing gender based violence. Therefore, prevention need to start early through educating and working with young people to promote gender equality and respective relationship. Towards this end, the government should develop a non-formal education curriculum to engage boys and girls in an endeavor to prevent and curb violence against women. The curriculum which should be designed for various age groups should be aimed at providing the young people with the necessary skills and tools to comprehend the root causes of violence in their respective communities. This education is also necessary in enabling them engage their communities and peers towards prevention of such violence alongside awareness on where or how to access support in the event violence is experienced.
The state should also endeavor to make public spaces and even homes safer for women while also empowering them economically and sociality. This should also go towards increasing their engagement and decision making ability in relationships, at home, in politics and even public life. A research by the World Health Organization has also noted that, community mobilization alongside raising awareness through various media platforms including social media, and mainstream media are a crucial prevention strategy. What is more, the government needs to create agencies as well as support non-governmental organization that provides technical support and new knowledge in preventing gender based violence in the country. Such an agency should be focused towards generating attitudinal and behavior change among boys and men, facilitate enhancement of policy and raise institutional capacity.
This proposal is feasible on many fronts. First of all, there are a number of ministers and government officials who are in support of measures to end domestic violence incidences in the country. The show of goodwill towards such an initiative can be exhibited by Australia’s current Foreign Affairs minister Honorable Marise Payne who launched a gender equality fund. The fund is aimed at accelerating support for gender equality and empowerment from the perspective of leadership and economic fronts alongside addressing violence meted against women. The funds goes a long way in supporting women from linguistically and culturally diverse backgrounds who have in one way or another experienced some forms of violence. Similarly, Australia’s prime minister is on record on introducing a safety package for women which closes AUD 100 million. The goal of this fund is to offer immediate and practical action aimed at keeping women and their children safe (UN Women, 2020). This is generally a good indication that Australia’s political classes are positive about strategies to end domestic violence, subsequently implying that they will also be receptive about this proposal.
Regarding the funding, Australia’s economy is currently favorable since it is on an upward trajectory. Despite the fact that covid-19 has had a negative implication on the nation’s economy, the financial support towards the course and which extends to integration of the national school curriculum with the necessary knowledge and creation of public awareness through different media platforms is quite possible for a government of Australia’s stature. In fact, the AUD 100 million announced by the Prime Minister in 2015 and the extra AUD 30 million issued out by the national prevention campaign can be tapped into provision of education and ingraining the necessary skills in the nation’s curricular as well as creating awareness programs on different platforms. Therefore, it is generally believed that with the goodwill of the leaders, the education of young people and awareness programs can be adequately and needful budged for and funded accordingly.
In conclusion, it is evident that there is a greater need for Australia to change the approach in which it is dealing with the matter of domestic violence in the country. Although there have been goodwill and commitment in minimizing this issue, the strategy has made it hard for the problem to be fully eradicated in the country. The main concern is the fact that it is mainly one sided, that is only focused at empowering women while ignoring the male counterparts who are otherwise important stakeholders. It is believed that by educating citizens early enough on how to relate with others and the value of those of the opposite sex, the negative stereotypes and prejudice against women could be minimized. Consequently, cases of domestic violence will be at a low end.
Alcorn, G. (2016). Australians are being told that gender inequality is the root cause of domestic
violence. But is it? Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/feb/19/australians-are-being-told-that-gender-inequality-is-the-root-cause-of-domestic-violence-but-is-it (accessed on 21st October, 2020).
Department of Foreign Affairs and Aid. (2017). Policy analysis: Australia’s commitments to
ending violence against women and girls. Available at: https://www.dfat.gov.au/sites/default/files/ode-evawg-policy-analysis.pdf (accessed on 21st, October, 2020).
World Health Organization. (2015). Violence Prevention. The evidence. Available at:
https://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/violence/gender.pdf (accessed on 21st October, 2020).
unwomen.org. (2020). Focusing on prevention to stop the violence. Available at:
https://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/ending-violence-against-women/prevention (accessed on 21st October, 2020)
UN Women. (2020). Australia makes new commitments internationally and at home to empower
women and girls (updated). Available at: https://www.unwomen.org/en/get-involved/step-it-up/commitments/australia (accessed on 21st October, 2020)
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