Violence against women has serious impacts on the health and wellbeing of those affected and exacts significant economic costs on communities and nations.
This report presents findings from a subset of the national survey, with responses from 1,923 Australians aged 16 to 24. The full survey has been conducted periodically since 1995. This provides a benchmark for measuring changes in community attitudes to violence against women over time.
The National Community Attitudes towards Violence Against Women Survey was developed by VicHealth in partnership with The University of Melbourne, the Social Research Centre and experts across Australia, and supported by the Australian Government Department of Social Services as part of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010–2022.
The report focuses on the responses given by the young people who participated in NCAS. These findings are compared with those aged 35 – 64 years of age, enabling results to be compared between two generations: young people and their parents. The report identifies positive attitudes and some areas of concern with regard to the attitudes of young people on violence.
Consistent with the 2014 report on the survey, which presented findings for the community as a whole, 98% of young people recognise that physical partner violence is a serious matter and that it’s against the law. The majority (71%) also understand partner violence is perpetrated more often by men, and that women are most likely to be physically injured (87%). Most agree women shouldn’t have to sort out sexual harassment by themselves and that it’s not a woman’s duty to stay in a violent relationship.
A number of the survey results indicate young people are more likely than Australians aged between 35 and 64 years to have concerning views about violence against women. Only 60% agree violence against women is common, for instance, compared with 71% of the 35-to-65-years age group. Young people are also less likely than older Australians to recognise the harms of non-physical forms of violence, such as harassment, stalking and controlling behaviours. The report also finds that one in four young people are prepared to excuse partner violence in a range of scenarios; 26% agree partner violence can be excused if the perpetrator regrets it afterwards, for instance. And 24% agree violence can be excused if the perpetrator was so angry they “lost control”.
Most young people (90%) don’t endorse being affected by alcohol as an excuse for perpetrating partner violence. But two in five agreed “rape results from men not being able to control their sexual urges”. One in five believe that women often say no to sex when they mean yes.
The survey found young people were overall supportive of gender equality in public roles, such as education and employment. But they were less likely to support gender equality in the private sphere; more than one in five young people (22%) agree men should take control for decision-making in relationships, for instance, compared with just 16% of older Australians.
While the survey overall shows young people are more likely than older Australians to hold attitudes that are supportive of domestic violence, this is particularly true of young men.