2024 ‘Addressing Violence against Women and their Children’ Category Winner

City of Greater Geraldton, WA

Active Bystander Training – Speaking Out Against Disrespect

2024 ‘Addressing Violence against Women and their Children’ Category Winner

The Initiative

The City of Greater Geraldton successfully delivered the Speaking Out Against Disrespect training through comprehensive face–to–face sessions across the organisation, addressing gender inequality and power imbalances to eliminate violence against women and children.

Preventing family violence is a priority for the City. In 2019, the City pledged to take action to prevent family violence through the adoption of the Community Respect Equality initiative, led by Desert Blue Connect.

Integral to this initiative, the Speaking Out Against Disrespect training, is a community–wide program designed to develop skills and confidence needed to speak up against disrespect, whether at work or within the community. Its aim is to promote gender equality and primary prevention by empowering individuals to take action when they witness or hear disrespectful behaviour.

Facilitated by the City’s Community Development Team, the training is supported by the City’s senior management and now forms part of the City’s Key Services Induction, which focuses on cultivating behavioural skills, introducing new perspectives for thinking and acting, and enriching staff knowledge. Throughout 2023, the City conducted 18 sessions across all departments, successfully training over 250 staff members. The sessions are immersive, encouraging active participation, and providing opportunities for discussion, and critical reflection using real–life scenarios. The training is grounded in principles of safety, trust, and respect, ensuring a productive and supportive learning environment for all participants resulting in raising awareness about family violence and its impacts.

Continuous evaluation and receptive feedback mechanisms are essential to creating effective bystander training providing the opportunity for improvement. Of the 175 staff members surveyed, 87% strongly agreed that the training was exceptionally beneficial, with 91% acknowledging a substantial enhancement in their understanding of the topic. This feedback underscores the program’s positive influence on altering perceptions toward gender–based violence.

By training a significant portion of the City’s workforce and integrating this program into the induction process for new and existing employees, the City has initiated vital conversations and raised awareness. This widespread engagement serves as a catalyst, actively contributing to the development of a culture and community deeply rooted in respect, inclusion, and gender equality.

About the Category

The ‘Addressing Violence against Women and their Children’ category recognises local government initiatives which:

  • address underlying causes of gender inequality and power imbalances to eliminate violence against women and their children;
  • support and advocate for women and children experiencing family and domestic violence and sexual harassment; and/or
  • raise awareness and create cultures and communities of respect, inclusion and gender equality.

Successful initiatives in this award category benefit communities by:

  • preventing violence towards women by driving sustainable change in community awareness, attitudes and behaviours;
  • supporting women and children who are at risk of, or experiencing, family and domestic violence, sexual violence or sexual harassment; and/or
  • changing the attitudes and social norms that excuse or condone disrespect, sexual harassment and abuse.

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