Transcript by The Hon Paul Fletcher MP

ABC Radio Melbourne Breakfast


SAMI SHAH: And it’s part of a national campaign that’s aimed at breaking the cycle of violence against women and children and the effectiveness of that campaign isn’t just something that I’ve notice, it’s been, well, celebrated right now as well. Joining us on the line to tell us why a campaign like this worked so well and what we can do going forward is the federal Minister for Families and Social Services, Paul Fletcher. Good morning, Minister.

PAUL FLETCHER: Good morning, Sam and Jacinta. Good to be with you.

SAMI SHAH: How do you know this ad has worked?

PAUL FLETCHER: Well, this $30 million Stop it at the Start ad campaign which began running in October this year, according to the research we’ve done on its effectiveness to date, 72 per cent of people who saw the campaign understood and accepted their role in showing young people how to act respectfully.

Around six in ten felt the campaign led them to a different perspective on violence against women. So the whole purpose of this ad as you’ve talk about is to seek to remind adults that when we’re speaking, we can be very influential to the children around us and if we say things which show a lack of respect for women, that really affects the attitudes that children and young people develop. So the ad that you just played there, obviously you’ve got the dad responding to his son saying he’s been put on detention, and the daughter’s comments suddenly remind him and remind the viewer that the attitude he’s expressed quite inadvertently in showing some sympathy to his son tends to suggest a lack of respect for women.

The whole purpose of this ad campaign, this $30 million Stop it at the Start campaign co-funded by the Commonwealth and state and territory governments, is to just encourage adults to think about the things that we say and the attitudes about respect towards women that we model for children.

JACINTA PARSONS: These ad campaigns, as we’ve mentioned before, can be highly effective as this is already proven to be. Where is the funding, though, I guess for further education for community?

PAUL FLETCHER: Well, the first point to understand is that this is part of an ongoing process. So this is the second phase of Stop it at the Start.

The first phase ran a couple of years ago with more than 43 million views of the phase one advertisements.

Our Liberal National government has spent over $350 million on women’s safety, including this campaign, working with state and territory governments. It’s part of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children. And of course some of the other measures under that, for example my colleague the Minister for Women Kelly O’Dwyer recently announced $14.9 million for microfinance, Good Shepherd Micro Finance no interest loans.

When a woman is leaving a domestic violence situation, she often needs to set up a new household very quickly, she is typically or quite often bringing the kids with her. She might need to get a bond for rent, a new fridge, furniture, and so these no interest loans delivered through Good Shepherd Micro Finance is designed to help women in that situation.

We’ve provided additional funding for 1800RESPECT, that’s the national help line for somebody facing sexual assault or domestic or family violence, 1800737732.

The Stop it at the Start campaign forms part of an overall package of measures designed to help build women’s safety, support women’s safety. And look, the statistics are absolutely shocking, almost eight women a day are hospitalised as a result of an assault by a current or former partner.

SAMI SHAH: Minister, it’s not just that number, it’s also the fact that one woman a week is murdered by a current or former partner.

We’ve got this conversation has been going on for such a long time. Is a campaign like this are we expecting too much from it? Isn’t there more than should be done just on a national level, including a Parliamentary level, than an advertising campaign, no matter how effective a campaign has been?

PAUL FLETCHER: I think the campaign needs to be part of as it is of an overall package of measures, and it is about changing community attitudes over the medium to longer term, particularly changing the attitudes of children and young people.

You talked in your introduction about a number of public health information campaigns that have been successfully run in Australia over the last 20, 30, 40 years.

If we think about issues like smoking, or skin cancer safety, these are all areas where it’s taken work over a number of years by Commonwealth and state and territory governments to change community attitudes. But we have seen the attitudes change, and so this Stop it at the Start campaign is part of this coordinated work to seek to change attitudes about respect for women with the intention in turn of achieving demonstrable improvements in women’s safety. But of course, it needs to be part of an overall plan and that’s what our Liberal National government is doing, working with state and territory governments. Just earlier- and so part of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children.

JACINTA PARSONS: We’ve seen a lot of commentary around over the last couple of weeks, if not more, around the treatment of women in Parliament. Do you think that’s a place that we need to be seeing some significant shifts?

PAUL FLETCHER: I think we need to demonstrate respect for women and, of course, children in their care in every environment, and the purpose of this Stop it at the Start campaign, this $30 million campaign, is to set to influence the attitudes of children and young people by reminding adults that the way we conduct ourselves is very influential in the attitudes that children pick up. And absolutely, politicians, as well as every other member of the community needs to model and demonstrate respect for women in our behaviour, and that’s the way that we help to change attitudes over time and in turn, improve women’s safety.

SAMI SHAH: Have you changed your mind on any on this issue yourself?

PAUL FLETCHER: I have certainly found the research influential.

I think the advertising campaign is very effective in drawing that linkage between things that any one of us might inadvertently say and the general attitudes about respect for women that is shown by young people. For example, the research shows that one in four young people don’t think it’s serious if a young bloke insults or verbally harasses girls in the street. Now, what we need to do, what this campaign is designed to do, this $30 million Stop it at the Start campaign, is to change those attitudes so that young people and all of us respect understand that linkage between showing the lack of respect for women and …

SAMI SHAH: And the effects of something like that has on the women. Absolutely. Thank you so much for speaking with us.

Federal Minister for Families and Social Services Paul Fletcher there, about the Stop it at the Start campaign, which has proven quite successful indeed.