The Government Is Targeting Young People In This Disturbing Ad Against Domestic Violence

The disturbing ad aims to stop domestic violence by challenging children's experiences of gender inequality.

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This Sunday the federal government’s ‘Stop it at the start’ ad will begin to air on national TV, a campaign that links domestic violence to a pervasive culture of gender inequality which can be reinforced as early as childhood.

The disturbing ad, which is jointly funded by federal and state and territory governments, depicts the ways in which toxic attitudes towards women are passively drummed into both boys and girls. “He only does that because he likes you,” a mother says to her young daughter, who has been pushed over by a slammed door. A teenage boy takes a photo of a teenage girl who is bending over, as another boy looks away and pretends it’s not happening.

Other scenes show slamming doors and punching of car windows. No one in this ad is hit directly, which is the point — ‘Stop it at the start’ is promoting basic respect, understanding and empathy as the key to stopping the cycle of violence.

“We are trying to hit directly at that attitudinal and habitual behaviour that sits in the mind of particularly young men and boys,” social services minister Christian Porter told The Guardian. “They [the ads] are designed to confront all of us on our attitudes. They are confronting in the way we all get confronted from time to time when a trusted source tells us a home truth about some habit or behaviour we have behaved in perennially which is not good.”

Both Labor and the Greens support the campaign (which will roll out over three years) but there has been talk about whether the $30 million spent on the project could have been partially allocated to front line services, such as shelters. It was recently found that domestic violence is one of the leading causes of homelessness in Australia.

In March, Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews committed to implementing more than 200 recommendations by the Royal Commission into Family Violence after their expansive look at Australia’s lack of domestic violence services, but the federal government has not made the same pledge. Last week it was announced that the Victorian government have already kickstarted a $152 million dollar two-year plan to ramp up accommodation for the homeless, provide hundreds of units for emergency housing assistance, and “provide flexible tailored responses that meet the individual needs of victims of family violence, including support to stay safe at home”.

This campaign is undoubtedly a positive step, but practical assistance still needs to be developed for victims of family violence. This month the Coalition of Australian Governments called for a crackdown on the aspects of domestic violence like revenge porn, saying that the federal government was not doing enough to legally protect women. According to the Canberra Times, just last month the federal workplace authority stripped domestic violence leave from workplace agreements across public services.

Minster for Women Michaelia Cash says of the campaign: “Disrespecting women does not always lead to violence against women but certainly all violence against women began with that fundamental lack of respect. That is what this campaign is all about.” Hopefully the link between domestic violence and ingrained gender inequality will bring more awareness to the need for increased family violence services in Australia.

If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit In an emergency, call 000.

Men can access anonymous confidential telephone counselling to help to stop using violent and controlling behaviour through the Men’s Referral Service on 1300 766 491.