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National Community Attitudes Survey
30 / 10 / 2014
Recently, the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (Vichealth) released the findings from the highly anticipated 2013 National Community Attitudes Survey, the third of its kind, following similar surveys conducted in 1995 and 2009.
Each of these surveys have been significant in measuring community attitudes towards violence against women – in helping understand what violence supporting attitudes look like across the community, which ultimately assists in working out what needs to be done in tackling these attitudes – and ultimately in reducing violence against women.
The 2013 survey shows that while there has been some improvements in attitudes towards women (comparing the other survey results), there are still many areas which remain of concern.
In this edition of Sheilas, we reproduce a summary of the findings of this critical research tool – which should not only assist policy makers and community sector workers, but should be of interest to the community at large – for we all have a role in trying to reduce violence against women.
The 2013 survey forms part of the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and Children, and was commissioned by the Department of Human Services, to be led by Vichealth in collaboration with the Social Research Centre and The University of Melbourne as research partners.
More than 17,500 twenty minute interviews were conducted in this survey to measure community attitudes towards violence against women, with Australians aged 16 and over.
The four key research areas of the survey include:
1. community knowledge of violence against women
2. attitudes towards violence against women
3. attitudes towards gender roles and relationships
4. responses to witnessing violence and knowledge of resources.
The full report which examines each of these areas can be downloaded here. For Sheilas readers, we are providing the summary findings of each of these areas – reproducing the ‘Encouraging Results’ and ‘Areas of Concern’ for each section.
COMMUNITY KNOWLEDGE OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN:
• Most Australians recognise that violence against women includes a wide range of behaviours designed to intimidate and control women – not just physical assault.
• Since 1995 there has been an increase in the proportion of Australians who recognise non-physical behaviours as violence against women.
• Most are aware that partner violence and forced sex in a relationship are against the law.
• Most people recognise that partner violence is usually perpetrated by men.
AREAS OF CONCERN
• Although more Australians are now aware of the many different forms violence against women can take, there is still more work to do to emphasise that it can be more than physical violence.
• Since 1995 there has been a decrease in people who agree that violence is perpetrated mainly by men.
• Between 2009 and 2013 there was a decrease in those who recognise that women are more likely than men to suffer physical harm and fear as a result of this violence.
• Between 2009 and 2013 fewer people agreed that violence against women was common.
ATTITUDES TOWARDS VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
• Only 4% to 6% of Australians (depending on the scenario) believe violence against women can be justified.
• Since 2009 there has been a decrease in the proportion of Australians who believe that domestic violence can be excused if the violent person is regretful afterward.
• Most do not believe that women should remain in a violent relationship to keep the family together or that domestic violence is a private matter to be handled in the family.
• Since 1995 there has been a decrease in those who believe that women who are sexually harassed should sort it out themselves.
• Most support the current policy that the violent person should be made to leave the family home.
• Most agree that violence against women (both physical and non-physical) is serious.
• Since 1995 there has been an increase in the percentage recognising non-physical forms of control, intimidation and harassment as serious.
• There has been a 7% decline since 2009 in the proportion of young people who hold attitudes that support violence against women at the extreme end of the spectrum. The decline is 10% in young men. Young people have been the target of recent efforts to prevent violence against women.
AREAS OF CONCERN
• Sizeable proportions believe there are circumstances in which violence can be excused.
• There has been an increase in Australians agreeing that rape results from men not being able to control their need for sex, from 3 in 10 in 2009 to more than 4 in 10 in 2013.
• Nearly 8 in 10 agree that it’s hard to understand why women stay in a violent relationship.
• More than half agree that ‘women could leave a violent relationship if they really wanted to’.
• Compared with physical violence and forced sex, Australians are less inclined to see non-physical forms of control, intimidation and harassment as ‘serious’.
• More than half agree that women often fabricate cases of domestic violence in order to improve their prospects in family law cases and nearly 2 in 5 believe that a lot of times women who say they were raped led the man on and later had regrets.
• Up to 1 in 5 believes that there are circumstances in which women bear some responsibility for violence. There has been no change since 2009.
ATTITUDES TOWARDS GENDER ROLES AND RELATIONSHIPS
• Most Australians support gender equality in the public arena, such as workplaces.
• Most acknowledge that women still experience inequality in the workplace.
AREAS OF CONCERN
• More than a quarter believe that men make better political leaders.
• Up to 28% of Australians endorse attitudes supportive of male dominance of decision-making in relationships, a dynamic identified as a risk factor for partner violence (for more information see page 34 of the detailed summary report, Australians’ attitudes to violence against women, which can be accessed via www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/ncas).
RESPONSES TO WITNESSING VIOLENCE AND KNOWLEDGE OF RESOURCES
• The overwhelming majority of Australians (98%) say they would intervene if they witnessed a woman being assaulted by her partner.
AREAS OF CONCERN
• Since 2009 there has been a decrease in those who would know where to go to get help with a domestic violence problem.
• Less than half recognise that police response times have improved. This percentage did not change from 2009 to 2013.
• A new challenge is to engage the community in responding to known risk factors for violence, such as controlling behaviours or disrespect towards women.
Check out the full report via the Vichealth website, here.
The Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (Vichealth) has released the 2013 National Community Attitudes Survey – the third of its kind – examining attitudes towards violence against women. As with the previous surveys, this research is pivotal in understanding the complexities of violence against women and in understanding violence supportive attitudes. It is not just a measure of where we are at in terms of combating this widespread social issue, but also, how far we have to go. Check out the Vichealth website for more details.