Media Release by Senator the Hon Anne Ruston

Australians encouraged to “unmute” themselves and call out disrespect

Joint Media Release with:

  • Senator the Hon Marise Payne

    Minister for Foreign Affairs, Minister for Women, Acting Minister for Defence

The Morrison Government will today launch the $18.8 million third phase of the national campaign
to reduce violence against women and their children to mark International Women’s Day.

The Stop it at the Start campaign encourages adults to “unmute” themselves and empowers them
to take actions that will have a positive influence on the attitudes and behaviours of young people.

Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston said the campaign was critical in our efforts to
prevent family, domestic and sexual violence.

“Each and every one of us has a role to play in ensuring disrespectful attitudes and behaviours
towards women are not learned in childhood,” Minister Ruston said.

“We all need to unmute ourselves when we witness disrespect and turn it into an opportunity to
set the standard for what is and isn’t acceptable.

“Taking action on this issue may seem overwhelming but if we all take small steps, such as
reconsidering our own views or talking to our children about respectful relationships, it can add up
to a positive change for Australia.”

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Minister for Women and Acting Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon
Marise Payne said launching the next phase of Stop it at the Start on International Women’s Day
sent a powerful message about the role we all must play to ensure all women can fulfil their

“We have made considerable progress towards gender equality in Australia but challenges remain
whether that be in the home or the workplace,” Minister Payne said.

“As a Government we see it as our duty to foster a culture in which Australian men grow up
respecting the women in their lives.

Stop it at the Start demonstrates to all adults that responding to disrespect can be a constructive,
liberating and an important way to shape future generations.”

The Stop it at the Start campaign began in 2016 as an initiative under the National Plan to Reduce
Violence Against Women and their Children 2010-2022.

It is funded under the Morrison Government’s record $340 million investment in the Fourth Action
with financial contributions from the governments of South Australia, the Australian Capital
Territory, the Northern Territory and Tasmania.

Evaluation research found the campaign was changing attitudes with 42 per cent of adults taking
action, such as having a conversation with a young person about respectful relationships or
changing the way they behave towards others as a result of earlier phases of the campaign.

Phase one of the campaign encouraged adults to recognise their own unconscious behaviour and
understand the influence such behaviour can have on others, including the next generation. Phase
two asked people to take ownership of the issue rather than using arguments to rationalise
disrespectful behaviours.

Phase three of the campaign will be rolled out across television, cinema, online, outdoor, digital and
social media from Sunday 14 March.

A suite of tools and resources will be available online at to help parents and
other adults to model positive behaviours and start a conversation about respect with the young
people in their lives.

Ministers Payne and Ruston thanked the Commonwealth Bank for partnering with the Government
to deliver the launch event, where a panel discussion would highlight how government, business
and the broader community must come together to address the issue of violence against women.
If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call
1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit

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