Greater Dandenong’s youth-led initiative is changing behaviours

The Greater Dandenong local government area has the highest rate of family-related violence offences in metropolitan Melbourne.

So, to change attitudes and behaviours, the City turned to its youth and the power and immediacy of video in an innovative project that won it a 2020 National Award for Local Government in the category of “Addressing Violence Against Women and their Children”.

The City’s Youth United Against Family Violence project began in 2019 when it selected 10 youth ambassadors to choose three key massages and develop short video advertisements aimed at reaching their peers.

The youth ambassadors guided the entire creative process, with help from Momentum Studios Australia.

The three videos produced included:

  • That’s Control, Not Love, highlighting coercive control (such as isolating and belittling behaviour) within intimate partner relationships;
  • Don’t Stand By, Stand Up, emphasising bystander actions and encouraging viewers to stand up against family violence by calling the behaviour out; and
  • Your Actions Impact Everyone, showing that family violence affects everyone, and while young people aren’t always the victim of abuse they are often indirectly impacted.

They were launched at last November’s Greater Dandenong Walk Against Family Violence event.

However, when Covid-19 restrictions were imposed in March, and schools across Melbourne were closed, the videos were posted online and used in a social media campaign that reached more than 200,000 people.

The Youth United Against Family Violence project also involves educational workshops about family violence and promoting local support services so that young people know where they can go to get help.

With lockdowns now easing, the council will go ahead with the project’s third phase: incorporating the videos into a suite of workshops delivered to young people in schools and community settings.

Greater Dandenong Mayor Jim Memeti said: “This is an important issue in our community and young people often feel like they are not part of the conversation.

“Through this project, these young people have been able to use their voices and reach out to their peers. I am sure these videos will make a difference for so many and not just within our own community.”

Greater Dandenong is now in the running for the overall National Award for Local Government (NALG) to be announced at ALGA’s Special Local Roads and Transport Congress in Wagga Wagga NSW on 16-17 November.

The awards highlight innovative and resourceful solutions implemented by local governments to make a difference to their local communities – and are sponsored by the Federal Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, and Communications.