Media Release by Senator the Hon Anne Ruston

Creating a future free from sexual violence and harassment

The Morrison Government is committing more than $29 million to develop new primary prevention initiatives to address sexual violence and harassment across the nation.

Under the funding, Universities Australia will create advertising materials and resources to be distributed throughout campuses in early 2022 and Our Watch will be able to expand the Respect and Equality in TAFE initiative which currently runs in Victoria.

The Government will also develop a new public consent initiative – modelled on our successful Stop it at the Start campaign – to better inform young people and adults about consent, sexual violence and respectful relationships.

To be rolled out next year, it will target those who influence young people such as parents, family members and other important role models and be delivered through advertising including on social media at bus stops and other public places.

Minister for Women’s Safety Anne Ruston said $5 million would build further evidence and develop primary prevention initiatives to address sexual harassment in response to the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Respect@Work report.

“The Morrison Government is working to strengthen the capacity of all sectors to address sexual harassment to ensure women and girls of all ages can be safe at work, while studying, in public and online,” Minister Ruston said.

“While we are seeing community attitudes change, we know there is more that needs to be done.

“There is a demonstrated need for primary prevention activities in higher education settings and vulnerable communities as well as working with men and boys to help stop sexual harassment and violence at the very start.

“National and targeted initiatives will involve promoting and improving positive bystander responses as well as addressing disrespectful attitudes which may be learned from a young age.”

An evaluation of the recent third phase of Stop it at the Start, ‘Unmute Yourself’, showed that 68 per cent of people surveyed recognised the campaign, and three in five took action as a result including personally trying to be more respectful to others and intervened when a young person behaved disrespectfully towards another person.

LGBTIQ+ Health Australia and University of New South Wales will also receive funding to co-design pilot primary prevention projects among people with diverse sexual orientations and gender identities, or who are intersex.

Preventing and responding to sexual violence will be a key issue discussed at the National Summit on Women’s Safety, being held virtually on 6 and 7 September.

Expert panellists Hayley Foster, Angela Lynch AM, Dr Michael Salter, Thelma Schwartz and Australian of the Year Grace Tame will explore key issues relating to sexual violence including drivers, respectful relationships education, response priorities in the justice system and how to best support victims and survivors of sexual violence.

These discussions are an opportunity to put a national spotlight on sexual violence and will inform the next National Plan to end violence against women and children. Further information on the Summit is available at Women’s Safety Summit (

If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit