Speech by Senator the Hon Anne Ruston

Launch of Phase 3 – Stop it at the Start

Thank you Marise for your passionate words.

I would like to begin by acknowledging the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we gather today, and pay my respects to their Elders past and present. 

I extend that respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples here today.

Good morning everyone, it’s great to have you here with us today on International Women’s Day.

Thank you so much to everyone who is here for being with us as we launch the third phase of Stop it at the Start, the national primary prevention campaign to reduce violence against women and their children. 

I have no doubt that all of us in this room have a goal not only to reduce violence against women and their children, but to actually end it.

To do that we must make sure that violence is never seen as being OK, as being warranted or is something that should ever be part of an interaction between two people.

It should simply never occur to someone to use violence because violence is never acceptable. There is no excuse.

Unfortunately, the reality is that has not and, even today, is not the way everyone in our society thinks.

We must change that and we can.

It’s why as part of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children the Commonwealth developed the Stop it at the Start campaign. 

The first phase was delivered in 2016 and since then we have seen that the campaign has a real impact. 

Evaluation research tells us that the first two phases of this campaign have significantly increased audience understanding that disrespectful attitudes learned in childhood can escalate to violence if left unaddressed.

Understanding of the link between disrespect and violence against women increased significantly over the life of the campaign, peaking at 76 per cent following the initial benchmark of 68 per cent.

About 70 per cent of adults recalled the campaign, and of those, 60 per cent took action, such as having a conversation with a young person about respectful relationships, or changing the way they behave towards others. 

At a population level, this means 42 per cent of all parents, teachers, coaches and other adults who play a role in influencing young Australians have taken action as a result of the campaign – a phenomenal result.

Importantly, adults’ confidence in knowing how to talk to young people about respect has increased since the campaign began.

It’s critical that we now keep up the momentum and build on these results because we know that changing attitudes takes time.

And we must see this change in attitudes translate into a change in behaviour.

So in March 2019, the Morrison Government committed $16.7 million to deliver a third phase of Stop it at the Start, as a key part of the Fourth Action Plan of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children

Funding from South Australia, the Australian Capital Territory, the Northern Territory and Tasmania has brought the campaign budget to a total of $18.8 million, and I extend my thanks to these state and territory governments for their continued support. 

With phase one, the advertising materials helped us all understand the link between disrespect and violence against women.

Phase two advertisements showed how our words and actions can be misinterpreted by the young people in our lives, and reiterated our role in positively shaping the attitudes of our young people.

With the third phase of Stop it at the Start, we’ve shifted the focus to taking action.

We want all members of the community to recognise the opportunities each of us have to take action and address disrespect when we see it.

When we call out disrespectful behaviour, and start conversations about respect, we’re setting the standard for what is and isn’t acceptable.

If we take the opportunity to intervene when our children are young, we can make a real difference in the lives and futures of the next generation of Australian women.

It is apt that the theme of International Women’s Day this year is “Choose to Challenge” – this is what we are asking Australia to do. 

Challenge disrespectful attitudes and behaviours when you see them.

Challenge ourselves to do better, and to role model healthy and respectful relationships for our kids.

Challenge our community to come together to act as a united voice calling for change.

Phase three of Stop it at the Start will officially begin this Sunday, with advertisements running across a range of platforms including television.

These will be supported by tools and resources to help adults promote respectful attitudes, including conversation guides, checklists, videos and animations. 

There are also resources for Indigenous Australians, and for people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

I’m looking forward to seeing the advertising roll out, and I’m sure they will spur conversations in homes, schools and offices across the country – about how we can create a culture free from disrespect and violence for our children.

It gives me great pleasure to now share with you our new suite of television commercials.