Attitudes to domestic violence are developed during childhood, and right now Australia has a problem.
Almost half of all young men and a third of young women don’t think someone controlling their partner’s finances is a form of abuse.
Lisa Wilkinson gave an on-air plea for Australians to tackle family violence in September (post continues after video).
But, the report says that attitudes like the tendency to blame the victim and make excuses for perpetrators, are especially common among young people.
“While 96 per cent of Australians condemn domestic violence, the automatic defences which impede our likelihood to influence, and be influenced, are powerful,” the report says.
What that means is that there are some ingrained assumptions people make about domestic violence, and those assumptions are found in both young people and their parents, teachers and other figures of influence.
“Importantly, victim blaming occurs automatically and seemingly unknowingly.”
The research the report was based on a mix of information gathering techniques, including focus groups across the country.
Ken Lay, the former Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police, is now the chair of the COAG domestic violence advisory committee.
The report was commissioned by the committee.
In a speech to mark International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on November 25, Lay said changing youth attitudes was the key to ending domestic violence and other violence against women.
“When presented with some scenarios on aggression by boys, I heard with sadness about 10-year-old girls already diminishing the abuse they received from boys.
“I heard girls say about boys harassing them: “It’s not that bad, it’s not like he punched her.
“I heard boys justifying the violence by simply saying that they just want to be heard – that it was harmless,” Lay said.
“And for all the things I’ve seen in my many years at Victoria Police, this important evidence of the origins of gendered violence… and our complacency to it… brought me to tears. I felt embarrassed. I felt ashamed.”