Careers in primary prevention

The prevention of violence against women sector has grown significantly in recent years and new roles and opportunities are continually being created in many different settings.

More and more people from other professions bring their unique skills and experience and apply them to prevention work. If you’re passionate about preventing violence against women, there are many different ways you can build a rewarding career in the prevention sector.

What is a ‘prevention practitioner’?

The term ‘prevention practitioner’ refers to a person working to prevent violence against women before it occurs.

Prevention practitioners design, implement and monitor initiatives and policies that aim to address the underlying drivers of violence against women.

Prevention practitioners can have a range of different job titles and work in different kinds of organisations including local government, community health and women’s health organisations, as well as dedicated primary prevention and gender equality organisations such aRespect VictoriaOur Watch and Gender Equity Victoria.

Prevention practitioners support lots of different organisations – from sports clubs to schools, workplaces, local government, health services and the media – to embed primary prevention initiatives into their work.

What is primary prevention?

Work to address violence against women fits into three broad categories that exist along a continuum – primary prevention, early intervention and response.

Each of these approaches are important and reinforce each other. Work must occur across this continuum if we are going to create a world where women and their children live free from violence.

Primary prevention addresses at least one of the underlying drivers of violence, informed by Change the Story: A shared framework for the primary prevention of violence against women and their children in Australia. The four gendered drivers are:

  1. Condoning of violence against women
  2. Men’s control of decision-making and limits to women’s independence in public and private life
  3. Rigid gender roles and stereotyped constructions of masculinity and femininity
  4. Male peer relations that emphasise aggression and disrespect towards women

Find out about the three approaches to addressing violence against women and how your work may be placed across the continuum.

Qualifications, skills and knowledge you need

Most prevention roles require candidates to hold an undergraduate degree in gender studies, public health, community development or a related discipline. There are currently no specific primary prevention qualifications in Victoria.

In fact, people working in the primary prevention sector have a range of qualifications and come from various professional backgrounds, including political/social science, public policy, health promotion, education, arts, humanities and social work.

The specific knowledge and skills you need as a prevention practitioner will vary depending on the focus of your role. However, all prevention practitioners are expected to have core skills and foundational knowledge that are articulated in Victoria’s Preventing Family Violence and Violence against Women Capability Framework (‘the Capability Framework’). These include understanding:

  • the behaviours that constitute violence against women;
  • the nature, dynamics and impacts of this violence, and;
  • the terms and concepts commonly used by prevention practitioners.

While prevention practitioners do not need to have experience in supporting victim survivors, the Capability Framework makes clear that they need to know the indicators of violence against women and how to respond or refer those who disclose their experience.

In addition, the Capability Framework requires prevention practitioners to be skilled in:

  • designing logical and sustainable prevention initiatives;
  • implementing and monitoring such initiatives;
  • documenting and communicating the process, impact and outcomes of the initiatives, and;
  • leadership, advocacy and policy reform.

Unsure about the terminology? Our Key Terms in the Prevention of Violence against Women resource will help you understand commonly used terms and phrases.


Meet some practitioners and read about the work you could be doing in a primary prevention role.

Types of projects and roles

Acknowledgement of country

DVRCV and the PiP network acknowledge Aboriginal people as the traditional owners of the lands and waters throughout Australia.

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