Communities taking action

Find out how other communities around Australia are making a positive change and promoting respectful attitudes.

Knowing where to begin can be challenging, but small steps can make a big difference.


Girl Guides have been working with communities across Australia for more than 100 years helping girls and young women to become confident and empowered leaders.

We recently spoke with members of the organisation and Rosemary Derwin, Chief Commissioner for Girl Guides Australia, about the importance of respect and the Stop it at the Start campaign.

Rosemary- Girl Guides Australia is an organisation that has been operating for more than 100 years in Australian communities that seeks to support girls and young women discover their potential to be amazing. I am Rosemary Derwin, I’m the Chief Commissioner for Girls Guides Australia. I’m the lead volunteer of the organisation. Respect is a core value for Girl Guides, it is something that is included in our Girl Guide Promise and Law and a value girls are encouraged to explore and practise on a regular basis.

Aditi-To me respect means listening to everyone’s ideas, letting everyone speak, letting everyone’s voice be heard out and combining everyone’s ideas.

Rosemary- Girl Guides allows people to ask questions and challenge stereotypes. The more we talk, the more we listen, the more we enable change.

Dakshata-I am Dakshata Sharma, I have always been really passionate about what Girl Guides can bring the community and have always loved supporting girls and young women. Girl Guides meet weekly. They have meetings facilitated by their leaders and these meetings are really girl led. That means that girls decide what they want to do, they challenge themselves, they learn different things, they cook, they learn amazing life skills, we go outdoors, we go on camps. Girls get to work in a really supportive team environment where they can develop their leadership skills, make new friends and socialise and most of all just have fun.

Aditi- Girl Guides show respect by listening to each other ideas, working together, not bringing someone down or excluding someone’s ideas, letting them speak before giving your own idea, and not interrupting them.

Dakshata- It’s our job to make sure we are modelling respectful behaviours. We speak to the girls in a respectful way and we speak to each other in respectful ways to make sure they can really see what respect looks like in action.

Grace- Respect is important as a Girls Guide as we perform many team work activities and being able to share kindness, understand each other and take everyone’s ideas, it helps boost everyone’s mood and make the world a better place.

Dakshata- Embedding respect at a young age at Guides means that these girls will grow up to be really responsible community members. It means they are going to show respect outside of the Girl Guide world- at school, in the community, in the workplace and at home.
It means that once they’ve embedded respect into their daily routine and as a mindset, they go and take that out into the world and become amazing community members. Girl Guides build girls confidence so they can understand the importance of respect and expect to be respected.

Rosemary- Respect is a core value for Girl Guides. Respect for others and respect for ourselves. The Stop it at the Start campaign promotes what Girls Guides has always considered important.

Visit for tools and resources to help you make a positive change.

Healing through the art of yarning

Leprena is a centre for the Indigenous community where members can weave new connections and share their stories. It’s a place for people to safely and openly have conversations and learn from one another about preventing domestic and family violence.

Grace – Workshop facilitator: I’d like to welcome everyone to the art group Healing through the art of yarning. The intention of this community engagement project is to give people new hope, to bring together and have a yarn while doing artwork. I hope through this group we can all weave new connections share stories, and learn from each other.

Alison – Centre Manager: Before I start having the conversation I really feel that I need to, and want to, honour and pay respects to the Muwinina people, as the traditional owners of the country Leprena sits on, and that we gather on, pay respect to my elders, past, present, and future.

Leprena is open to the Aboriginal community. We are a centre based around the love and beauty of Aboriginal culture, how Aboriginal culture has a way of healing and connecting both First and Second Peoples.

Two years ago we started our family violence prevention programme called Listening With Our Heart. Which in our language means listening with our hearts. Where a group of Aboriginal women, and other interested peoples, started the hard conversations around family violence and its impact on women and children and how could we safely have them in a cultural context.

The old adage is knowledge is power, and indeed that has been the case here. The biggest role we can play is to model behaviour in a more equal way and to also to start to engage our young people about the importance of, or expectations or misconceptions, about the roles of particular genders. Be more mindful of how we interact with those conversations and the message that we project as well.

Taylor – Workshop participant: It’s important for little girls to be taught the way that they should be treated and little boys how they should treat women. I have a son, as well as my young daughter, both of those things are very important to me.

I want for there to be conversations, I want to end this with our generations. I want for our children to grow up in safe places. For them to know that they are loved, that their communities got their back.

Annie – Workshop participant: I see them being influenced by the strong women in our family and I hope and pray that the violence and disrespect stops there, stopping there.

I’ve got five granddaughters and three grandsons and those five granddaughters are very strong, they will not be treated like that. And that’s because their mother and myself have enforced that nobody has the right to treat you like that and they’re brought up to stand up for themselves.

And this place has helped us and we all stand up, we all speak for each other.

Grace: The workshop come about of the team sitting down and really thinking about how we can get the community engaged. We don’t separate the kids and the adults, we’re all one group that learn and feed off of each other. The young people, the teenagers are influenced in the group by knowing that they can approach their elders for advice.

With the kids that I work with, the main message would be that boys won’t just be boys. And it’s not that, it’s a deeper issue than that and somethings aren’t okay and some things can’t be justified.

Alison: If we do not speak out we’re going to create another generation where women feel like this is what they should expect, this is all they deserve. So we need to get that message out there to change the next generation, keep the kani going, we must keep the talk going.

The change that I want to see is a real self-awareness within everybody. And we become a safe community and an example to the rest of the community.

Special thanks to Leprena UAICC Tasmania

If you want to know more about the United Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress, please visit

Violence against women, let’s stop it at the start.

Empowered to create change

When she was just 14, Josie created a petition calling for the government to include information about domestic violence and the support available for young people in schools. Her petition attracted more than 100,000 signatures, and led to changes in the NSW school curriculum.

I’m Josephine. I’m 17. That’s a good rhyme.

Yeah, I’m studying to be a counsellor one day. I’m doing my Certificate II in Community Services.

I originally started with a petition and over a few months that got 100,000 supporters. And it was put in the newspaper so I was really glad that it was just getting out there. But I think it took about a whole year going through Parliament, to try and implement into the curriculum. It was just a few months after my mother passed away.

I did the petition purely for the reason that I was sitting in my own sadness dwelling on all this stuff and I was just thinking there’s other kids going through this. And I felt the need to tell people my story, so other people around me felt power to do something.

Around the time that the petition actually was created, I had a few people reach out to me and ask what to do. And that was pretty hard because at the time I’m kind of thinking “what do you do?”.

Well, I’m really glad that people felt like they could speak up and felt like they had a safe space to talk to someone. It’s a big issue with young people especially with them knowing boundaries and being told to keep it quiet. They need to know that they’re first of all not alone, and that there’s also people willing to help them.

It’s not impossible that people can change and learn respect, but I feel like if you taught it at a younger age, just like simple things like manners, it just sticks for you.

Teachers are a big influence on the way that a child wants to learn. Keep a kind of friendship with the students, ’cause it really helps to think that you have a support system within the school, especially when it’s somewhere that you are every single day.

The people that surround you definitely are a big factor in how you’ll feel. I was lucky enough to be surrounded by just so many lovely, kind people that because I spoke out, were aware of what was going on and they were just so kind and loving to me.

I don’t think that I’d be who I am today without the experience that I’ve gone through. It made me come out a stronger person and I just feel more empathy towards other people.

Be standing big for what you believe in, regardless if it’s on a big platform or a small one. If it’s in your small community then it still gets around. Just one family, that that’s their whole life that it changes and helps. It doesn’t matter the scale.

Special thanks to Josie Pohla

Violence against women, let’s stop it at the start.

Influencing the Influencer

Recognising how difficult it can be for young women entering a predominantly male workforce, the National Electrical Contractors Association was keen to promote attitudes around respect and gender equality in their young apprentices. They engaged NIRODAH, an organisation working in violence prevention, to run workshops with their employees around how they can be upstanders of respect.

Paul Zappa – Founder of Nirodah, to workshop participants: In your relationships, whether you have a relationship now, or a future relationship, I want to try and pull apart what we think in a relationship. What qualities, actions, values am I looking for in that partner.

Paul: My name’s Paul Zappa. I’m the founder and director of Nirodah. Nirodah is a violence prevention company. The Buddhist word Nirodah means end of suffering, so everything we do is driven from helping people working through their pain and ideally preventing it in the first place.

Angela Gaylard – Founder of Collective Impact Consulting: I was working with NECA and was there for about four years, working on a programme to help increase women in non-traditional trade areas, particularly electrical for them.

Paul: And we’ve noticed the willingness of the young people to engage in our sessions. We’ve also noticed the connection between staff and student, so very much our work is influencing the influencer, that would be a teacher, that would be a coach. In this setting it is the teachers initially.

Angela: I think that’s a really big part of all of these programmes, because if those influences don’t speak up and aren’t the, I guess change leaders, there isn’t that safe place for maybe people that aren’t as confident to speak up.

Paul: We’re encouraging the students to realise they influence others, and they are an influencer as well. When that penny drops, we’ve started to see change, and so we try to pull that apart and say how could you go from being a bystander to an up stander?

Angela: [It’s] not at all an approach of here’s what not to do. It’s raising those awareness levels, it’s giving them really easy skills that they can implement both, you know, in the workplace, in their personal lives and relationships, that really make a huge difference.

Paul: For instance an activity around juggling, and it’s to pull apart the motion intelligence and to taking risks and noticing habits and behaviours. The change I’ve seen is that it fully embrace being a cultural shift of our whole community, rather than this is something that those students are going to have to learn to do.

Miranda Powell – Student at National Electrical and Communications Association (NECA): Being responsible for your behaviour and it’s a responsibility for you to say something when you see something that’s inappropriate or putting someone else in an uncomfortable position or it’s having the capacity and language to be able to do that.

Jack Todaro – Student at NECA: I got cousins, I got a younger sister, I have, you know, the apprentices on site as well. New people that come along who, they don’t know the culture necessarily and we have a chance to actually shape that a bit earlier.

Steve Marshall – NECA Training Operations Manager: The students and staff and, it’s a really, they like talking about it, ’cause they can see the difference to make with them and people are more comfortable to stand up for themselves now, as well. That we’ve given the power to speak up and stand up for themself and realise that what’s happened or what’s been happening to them isn’t good enough, and they’ve got the right to feel safe and comfortable in a work site.

Paul: Authenticity of the young people’s saying that this place is safer and a better place to come to learn as a result of doing this work has probably been the thing that we’re most proud of. We hope the long term gain, we hope that that’s translating out of thing centre and into their workplace and into their family lives and into their relationships.

Learning to lead

The I Respect program in Canberra teaches influencers of young people – such as coaches, teachers, employers and other community role models – about how they can encourage respectful attitudes and behaviours in the next generation.

Mark Wadie – Founder, I Respect initiative: I’m Mark Wadie, I’m the founding director of the I Respect Initiative, and it’s been a 10-year journey of building it, coming from working with men and boys and helping them take the mask off and really share what’s going on but also take responsibility in their lives. Which has led to me then, sort of, developing evidence-based programmes essentially come down to bystander intervention, where I train people of influence, whether it be in companies, schools, sports teams, or out in workplaces that they can be leaders of the I Respect Initiative by bringing people in, and getting them to be inspired and motivated to be upstanders. Things like respect, integrity, and more importantly, nonviolence. And having discussions about issues that we are facing and say, hey, what can we do about this?

Mark Wadie to group of influencers: Because we’ve got here today moving forward, I just wanted to share how this program’s has had an impact on you and the nice people around you just to share your experience with so we can learn and we can all learn together.

Harry Kelly – Girls basketball coach: For the second topic of this one, which is challenging gender stereotypes, I got my mum to come in and speak to the girls, because my mum has the direct experience of challenging gender stereotypes and then we’d talk to them, and show them that it’s possible.

Peter Bradley – Board member, Turner Rugby Union Club: We’ve got to get off our backsides and do something instead of, words can be empty, if you don’t have action.

Steve Mason – Business owner: It’s more important to make people feel like they’re valued. I’ve met a really diverse, sort of a group of people that I work with, you know? A lot of my bakers are older guys, more traditional sort of old fashioned kind of men. And my front counter staff are predominantly young ladies, from 15 to 21.

There’s been a process of education with those guys, but there’s also been a process of reassurance and a process of empowering and just reassuring these girls that they are well within their rights to speak the way they speak, and to ask for what they ask for, that they deserve their respect.

Peter: I think Mark’s shown me that it’s good for people to be aware that they do have support at their end, that they should let them know. The Australian community, it’s there for us to put into, and not to sit back and hope that someone else is going to do it.

Harry: Rather than waiting for them to face those issues and deal with it, probably in a way that’s not healthy, we actually equip them with the tool now to say, I know about this, and now I know how to deal with it.

Jose Martinez – Anglicare worker: I work with Young Carers, so at school, I reach out to Youth Workers, we put together small groups of eight, and we just run the I Respect through it, and the idea is for, one, for them to get awareness, and B, just for them to just influence others as well.

Andrew Hill – Anglicare worker: It’s always an honour and a privilege to be an influence in anybody’s life. But I think one of the interesting things about Youth Work – it’s not that we’re in front of young people calling them towards us, and we’re not behind just shouting, this is the way to go, we’re actually walking step by step along with young people. It’s starting the journey of asking questions. Why do I believe certain things, why do I do certain things, why do I see through this lens towards women, towards society? And as they ask those questions with their life, the changes might happen years into the future, but at least I can be a part of starting that process.

The Shared Culture of Respect

The Australian Migrant Resource Centre in South Australia provides a range of services for people new to Australia, including information sessions around preventing violence against women and where to seek support. The Centre helps new arrivals settle in to their new communities, and encourages them to talk about respectful relationships with the young people in their life.

Cynthia Caird – Community services manager, to a group of workshop participants: You know we don’t have an extended family here, many of us don’t have extended family. That’s why the services are made available to people with experiencing problems, including domestic violence.

Cynthia: I’m Cynthia Caird, I’m the Community Services Manager for the Australian Migrant Resource Center. I manage a number of programs, and that includes the capacity building of communities who are new to the country.

Dawaud Sharify – Case worker: We do have program information stations for any arrivals to sort of educate them about domestic violence and when it’s against children, women, so, in general.

Cynthia: When working with new communities, you just need to gain their trust and ensure that you address issues that they bring up.

Cynthia, to workshop participants: I know it’s very hard, this is very difficult, people are afraid to bring it up, you know, because of various reasons. But it is better that we have awareness in the community. You have awareness, and then you can pass that awareness to your own people.

Divya Devarajan –workshop participant: I’ll educate my kids that violence is not the exact right way to deal with things, whether we have, you know, we have to respect each other.

Cynthia, to workshop participants: It is not an excuse like culture, like, people say, “oh, it’s part of our culture.” No, culture shouldn’t be as an excuse for domestic and family violence. And also set a good example for your children. You need to respect everyone in the family, particularly the wife.

Jyotshna Karki –workshop participant: So when we talk about the ethnic groups, that’s big, where culture and values start, and so when we talk one-on-one, we give them the information and we refer them to different community leaders.

Hiba Alwani – workshop participant: So much that I knew about domestic violence before, but there was a lot of things I didn’t know. And now I can pass it on to young ladies and families, how to look out for those signs, and what are the different types.

Sara Al-Kufish –workshop participant: Is really important, because some people feel like it’s bad behavior, but it’s okay, or it’s the way the person is, ’cause they don’t recognize it’s actually emotional

Cynthia: It is actually small steps for communities to be able to understand, and their concept about domestic violence is quite new.

Dawaud: ‘Cause we do get feedback from the clients that, you know, they come in and say, look, ever since I came in here, and the information we receive from AMRC is just, it’s life-changing, and now we actually think differently and we act differently.

Sheikh Anjuman Moliviatis – workshop participant: To live in a safe and a happy environment, we need to respect, and tolerance, that’s a must.

Broken Hill Sparks Change

The first Stop it at the Start community workshop was held in Broken Hill in late 2018. Community members such as the local Mayor, teachers, coaches, business leaders, religious leaders and other local role models came together to discuss how we can all play a role in preventing disrespect and violence against women.

The workshop helped attendees brainstorm ways to bring Stop it at the Start to life in their area, to drive a positive change for the future of their community.

Darriea Turley – Mayor of Broken Hill to workshop participants: To see a program step away from traditionally what we do about domestic violence, and what we traditionally do about domestic violence is we target the women, we target the after event, we look at the finding of what could happen then, as opposed to how we could prevent it now. And if we look at what we can prevent now, it certainly will make a change to the future.

Darriea: Little things that are said that really impact on people’s, the way they are, their imprint in life, the way they grow in life and their beliefs in themselves and their own values. And if we don’t change that, if we don’t actually have a process at thinking about what is fair and equitable, what is consciously going to impact on people and what are we allowing as parents in that process?

Stefan Delatovic – Workshop facilitator: And today we really want to talk about, like, activities and actions that we can do as a community. We are looking to affect the attitudes of our children aged 10 to 17 for this campaign.

Leanne Barber – Corrections Officer: If we meet once a month, every Tuesday… It’s just one of my passions at the moment. I’ve got two little step-grandchildren, they tell me little things that happen at school about disrespect and bullying, so I just want to be able to influence them a bit more and make, be a bit more positive role model for them.

Lori Emmett – YMA Board member: Part of what we do is provide a safe space where the girls can be themselves. This is part of what we do already and continuing it on and just sort of seeing all the little fine aspects of it, I think is really good, it’s great.

Stefan: This is societal issue with a lot of different facets and we have to pick somewhere to start.

Susan Thomas – Community leader: Perhaps look at our sporting events and make it mandatory to talk about respect at children’s events, not just once at each event, but ongoing.

Branko Licul – Council representative: The team having a chat. If these sort of short talks would occur at every sporting ground with the teams, you’ve got a captive audience with the kids there. It doesn’t have to be full on, formal. Informal, but it’s consistent, repeated message and you could also maybe get some feedback from the kids themselves as well.

Cathy Dyer – Community leader: All those little A-frame signs that I pass whenever I go into the basketball stadiums in Adelaide, that say this is a sport, these people are volunteers, you need to be appropriate and respectful in whatever you do inside this event. You walk past it every single time you go in.

Cathy, to workshop group: There’s a reasonable amount of awareness raising activities in Broken Hill.

Lori, to workshop group: He’s gotten in trouble for something that sounds really simple and really nothing, so he’s commiserating with his boy, but then he’s got to realize that this can affect his girl.

Branko: You start thinking about how words can hurt and how the socialization of children can have a big impact on their later years.

Leanne: I also learned a lot about how to formulate and get people interested and start talking about respect.

Cathy: Something that you should automatically know what it is that people are talking about, but when you delve down into how that might play out in a community, there’s lots of different ways you can do it.

Susan: It’s really important to be having conversations about respect with young people, but it’s not just young people. I think a lot of the respect is actually learned just by the environment that we’re walking through, the streets that we’re walking through.