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    Set up a local government working group

    Gaining commitment from key people within your local government will be foundational to your success. 

    Why set up a working group

    Violence against women prevention and gender equality activities work best when a whole-of-workplace approach is used. Having a working group that represents a wide range of areas within the local government that has a good balance of gender and employees at all levels of the organisation (including at senior levels) is a good way to start.

    The main purpose of the working group is to:

    • drive engagement and participation across local government
    • lead the design and delivery of initiatives in your workplace
    • develop networks and partnerships with key community organisations to design and deliver prevention initiatives
    • monitor progress.

    Find templates for establishing a local government working group – expression of interest template and terms of reference example.


    Engage leaders in your local government

    Seek the commitment of the Chief Executive Officer and senior management to undertake this work. The following tips can assist with this. 

    Identify where this change agenda strategically ‘fits’ within council business

    There are roles, strategies, plans and local government-funded services that this agenda will relate to and fit within. There may even be a legislative requirement for local governments in some states or territories to undertake this work. Some local governments strategically embed prevention of violence against women into: 

    • community safety 
    • community development 
    • social planning 
    • health and wellbeing 
    • HR employee policies 
    • governance 
    • rules and regulations for procurement, venue hire and grant management. 

    Reiterate that violence against women prevention is whole-of-council business

    Violence against women impacts every facet of the community including: school attendance, economic productivity, local crime statistics, health and mental health and homelessness. Therefore, the solution needs to involve everyone, especially senior and elected leaders. Read more about how to talk about the prevention toolkit for local government.

    Showcase the success of other councils

    There are many local governments that have implemented prevention of violence against women initiatives and benefited significantly. Use these examplesand develop relationships with other local councils, to leverage support and demonstrate the benefits. The case studies presented throughout this toolkit are a good way to start.

    Make the link between domestic and family violence prevention and good governance

    Violence against women is prevalent in Australia and local governments have an important role to reduce crime and promote health and wellbeing in the community. Seeking support could be framed using the following angles.

    • Consider how addressing this issue could form part of the elected members’ legacy.
    • Promoting gender equality and addressing other forms of structural inequality and discrimination, such as racism and ableism, will demonstrate that local government services, policies and programs are inclusive of the entire community.
    • Find ways to provide evidence of constituent concern regarding violence against women. Using local data from community engagement surveys and other sources can sometimes be used to demonstrate the level of community concern regarding violence against women.
    • Consider appealing to elected members by demonstrating how the issue affects the community using local statistics.

    Have champions

    A champion is someone who helps to drive cultural and systemic change through condemning violent behaviour, modelling respectful behaviours and actively supporting prevention of violence against women initiatives and programs.

    Champions can make a big impact, but it is not enough to just nominate champions and then expect them to get on with it. To play their role well, they need to be developed and supported and as a team of champions, given the opportunity to resolve issues through an action learning approach. 

    Case study

    City of Mandurah: Obtaining high survey participation through a comprehensive communications plan

    When conducting a gender attitudes survey, the City of Mandurah felt that it was important to make sure that staff understood why they were doing the survey. They worked with the communications team to develop an internal communications plan for staff to better understand their reasons for undertaking domestic and family violence prevention work.  

    The two teams worked together to plan their target audience and key messages. Their key messages focused on increasing people’s awareness of domestic and family violence and the actions people can take to prevent it. They decided that the communications plan would be most effective it if filtered down from the top, with leadership sending key communications down to managers, team leaders and then the other staff. When the survey was released to staff, the communications included messages in the CEO’s briefing, on the intranet, and on posters. The team communicated Employee Assistance Program contact information as well.   

    The working group is becoming more involved in the development of key messaging and internal communication strategies. They are also creating a list of frequently asked questions and information about gender equality and domestic and family violence myths and facts (derived from materials in this toolkit) which will go on the intranet and can be accessible to all staff.

    Next step

    Make a statement of commitment

    Supported by the Australian Government Department of Social Services.