​The basics – format and delivery

Successful primary prevention activities are comprehensive, well-resourced, engage the wider community and consider gender.

Successful prevention activities:

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    Are comprehensive

  • Why take a comprehensive approach

    Successful activities address risk and protective factors across multiple settings (eg home and school) at different levels (eg individual, community and society). Working at several different levels increases the likelihood that your activity's goals will be achieved.

    How to take a comprehensive approach

    Comprehensive activities:

    • have a strong theoretical base
    • address the linkages between levels
    • can involve multiple strategies targeting the same outcome at two or more levels.

    Think about providing funding for multiple strategies, which work at different levels to target the same outcome. This is called an ecological model.

    The ecological model

    The ecological model is one of the most commonly used frameworks in public health. It classifies risk and protective factors at five levels:

    1. Individual factors, eg bullying or victimisation and bystander awareness.
    2. Relationship factors, eg negotiating consent and building healthy relationships.
    3. Institutional factors, eg workplace cultures and policies.
    4. Community factors, eg community awareness and attitudes towards violence.
    5. Societal factors, eg challenging social attitudes and norms around gender inequalities, victim blaming and alcohol consumption.


    Ecological model (based on World Health Organisation's 2002 World report on violence and health)

    Evidence for a comprehensive approach

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    Integrate research and evaluation

  • Why integrate research and evaluation

    Research and evaluation help you to:

    • find out whether an activity is meeting its objectives
    • provide evidence of the impact of an activity
    • understand and address issues and unintended outcomes
    • articulate evidence of success, which may help gain further funding
    • build future evaluation capacity
    • strengthen activities for the future.

    How to integrate research and evaluation

    Successful activities:

    • have clear goals and systematically document their results
    • adapt as new evaluations and research become available
    • integrate evaluation strategies from the start.

    Developing partnerships with researchers and universities can be a good way to enable research and evaluation of your programme.

    Theories and models

    Think about providing funding to support long-term, comprehensive, well-designed evaluation, and adapting your programme to align with new research findings.

    Plan an evaluation

    Evidence for integrating research and evaluation


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    Engage the wider community

  • Why engage the wider community

    Successful approaches require community participation in activity development and evaluation. Engaging the wider community means your activity will be responsive to local needs and issues.

    How to engage the wider community

    Your 'community' could be formed from your:

    • geographic location (community of place)
    • affiliation or identity (schools, ethnic communities)
    • interests (community of practice).

    Engaging community may include involving community members, practitioners, and leaders in the testing, development and evaluation of your activity. Existing community organisations may have local resources and expertise you can use.

    It's important to ensure that:

    • a diverse range of voices from the community are heard
    • community values and cultures are respected
    • your activity is tailored to its audience
    • participants are treated with respect and dignity.

    Think about providing funding for a community liaison role and for community consultation.

    Evidence for engaging the wider community

    Networks and partnerships

    • Strategic partnerships offer a co-ordinated, collaborative approach to producing better outcomes — Davies et al., 2003, cited in Russell (2008)
    • Linkages with other programmes and community activities support the development and achievement of common goals, objectives, and networks — Davies et al., 2003, cited in Russell (2008)
    • Successful programmes increase communication and collaboration between domains — Hassall & Hanna, 2007, cited in Russell (2008)
    • Support from external agencies is valued — Maxwell et al. (2010)
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    Take a gender-based approach

  • Why take a gender-based approach

    Using a gender-based approach means that activities are informed by:

    • a gendered analysis of violence against women
    • the different social expectations of men and women
    • concepts of masculinity and femininity
    • how gender power dynamics play a role in perpetuating sexual violence.

    How to take a gender-based approach

    Engage both men and women in the design and delivery of prevention activities. Single-gender activities are generally found to be more effective than mixed-gender activities.

    Effective female-only programmes can include discussions of:

    • ways perpetrators behave
    • peer pressure
    • bystander issues
    • victim blaming attitudes
    • assertiveness training
    • self‐defence skills.

    Male-only programmes can include discussions of:

    • peer and social pressure
    • rape myths and stereotypes
    • men and boys as victims
    • how to respond to individuals who have been victimised.

    Engage men as allies and encourage them to serve as positive role models. Avoid blaming men and solely casting them as potential perpetrators — this can result in disengagement or resistance to the ideas being put forward.

    Evidence for a gender-based approach

    Male participation

    • Engage men as allies rather than constructing them solely as potential perpetrators — Casey & Ohler, 2012; Albury et al., 2011; Katz, 1995, all cited in Russell (2008)
    • Including males may shift the discourse of young women’s accountability, particularly surrounding alcohol consumption and ‘risk’ management, which currently dominates the prevention field — Carmody & Ovenden (2013)
    • Encourage non-violent men to commit to serving as positive role models and recognise that men are also beneficiaries of prevention efforts — Ministry of Women’s Affairs (2012)
    • Important that men are not excluded from the design, delivery, and receipt of programmes — Carmody, 2006, cited in Russell (2008)
    • Avoid blaming men – this can result in disengaging men from the programme and cause a ‘rebound effect’ or resistance to the ideas being put forward — Winkel & De Kluever, 1997; Schwere, 2002, in Keel, 2005, both cited in Russell (2008)

    Single-sex sessions

    • Opportunities should be made to separately educate young men and women — Carmody & Willis, 2007, cited in Russell (2008)
    • Mixed-gender programmes are generally found to be less effective than single-gender programmes — Vladutiu, Martin, & Macy (2011)
    • Single sex sessions are part of effective prevention programmes — Urbis Key Young, 2004, cited in Russell (2008)
    • Effective female-only programmes include: ways perpetrators behave, peer pressure, bystander issues, victim blaming attitudes, assertiveness training, self-defence skills — National Rape and Sexual Assault Prevention Project, 2000, in Adair 2006, cited in Russell (2008)
    • All-female programmes are effective at improving rape attitudes, behavioural intent, rape awareness, and knowledge about sexual assault — Vladutiu, Martin, & Macy (2011)
    • Effective male-only programmes include: peer and societal pressure, rape myths and stereotypes, men and boys as victims, how to respond to individuals who have been victimised — National Rape and Sexual Assault Prevention Project, 2000, in Adair, 2006, cited in Russell (2008)
    • All-male programmes are effective at reducing rape-supportive behaviours and rape myth acceptance — Vladutiu, Martin, & Macy (2011)
    • There is value in using different teaching strategies for different sexes; women should learn about risk and protective strategies and young men should learn about the impact of sexual assault on victims — Dyson & Flood, 2008; Flood, 2005/2006; Morrison, et al., 2004; Schewe 2002, in Keel, 2005, all cited in Russell (2008)
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    Are well-resourced

  • Why be well-resourced

    Quality programmes, well-funded pilots, and skilled personnel are critical to success. Staff need to have capabilities beyond technical skill and knowledge, and need capacity to teach non-violent and desirable relationship skills.

    How to be well-resourced

    Ensure that presenters are well-trained and supported. They should:

    • be well‐prepared to facilitate programmes
    • feel well-supported
    • not be overzealous in their self‐disclosure
    • be equipped to deal with any potential disclosures that occur throughout the delivery of the programme.

    Successful programmes have the resources to support:

    • high-quality management and administration
    • well-trained, well-supervised, and well-paid staff members, who find their work meaningful, stick with programmes long-term, and have the skills and knowledge to teach healthy relationship skills
    • positive, family-friendly workplace environments
    • quality programmes and well-funded pilots
    • evaluation of long-term outcomes.

    Provide funding to ensure that staff members have the skills they need to support programme goals, feel valued, and have long-term commitment to the programme. Consider setting aside funding for creating positive workplace environments.

    Evidence for well-resourced activities

Find out more

  • Preventing Sexual Violence: A Stocktake of Tauiwi and Bicultural Primary Prevention Activities — Te Ohaakii a Hine (2013)
  • World report on violence and health — World Health Organisation (2002)