To create a country free from sexual violence, Aotearoa New Zealand must challenge the historically entrenched beliefs and behaviours that drive sexual violence, along with the structures, practices and systems that support it.

SVPP and SVP activities must promote cultural values and norms that stop incidences of sexual violence from occurring. Acknowledging and addressing gender inequality, racism, the effects of colonisation, heterosexism, ableism, transphobia etc. is an essential part of building a world without violence, including sexual violence.

Well planned, developed and executed SVPP and SVP activities can significantly change individual and community attitudes and behaviours in the same way successful prevention campaigns targeting smoking and drink-driving have.


Shaping sexual violence primary prevention activities may include strategies to:

  • increase individuals’ knowledge, awareness and skills to reduce the likelihood that they will become victims or perpetrators of sexual violence (e.g. by building skills around negotiating consent, identifying unsafe situations, and creating healthy relationships)

  • build bystanders’ motivation and capacity to intervene to prevent assaults

  • change the social norms supporting sexual violence (e.g. NZ’s macho culture that normalises aggression and violence, gender inequalities that contribute to the tolerance of sexual violence)

  • influence policies and laws aimed at reducing sexual violence[1]

  • ensure SVPP and SVP work is based on a clear gender analysis and intersectional[2] feminist understanding of why sexual violence and abuse occurs

  • ensure SVPP and SVP activities achieve behavior change and a shift in the cultural norms that support and enable sexual violence and abuse

  • ensure SVPP and SVP work is developed and assessed in ways that are culturally relevant to its intended audience

  • include SVPP and SVP programs that target a range of delivery locations, including schools

Using transformative teaching approaches in primary prevention:

“No pedagogy which is truly liberating can remain distant from the oppressed by treating them as unfortunates […] the oppressed must be their own example in the struggle for redemption[3]

Effective teaching, in the context of SVPP and SVP within the education system, depends heavily on deep and caring relationships with the young people we engage with. Spending extra time to build relationships is time well spent and needs to be fully resourced. The adage ‘students don’t care what you know until they know that you care’ is supported by numerous studies of effective educators. To provide the ‘authentic care’ that students require in order to learn from us, we need to connect our indignation over all forms of oppression with the audacious hope that we can act to change them.[4]

Teaching SVPP and SVP using the ‘skills first approach’:

This approach is a form of ‘learning by doing’; it prioritises ‘doing’ over ‘description’. Practicing the necessary skills as often as possible is central, and the value can be seen in role play and games to embed safety skills in examples such as:

  • fire safety

  • water safety

  • first aid

  • social safety

The teaching in prevention programmes prioritises behaviour change and safety over intellectual understanding. For example, evacuating a place of employment in an emergency, responding to a flooding river, or being a first respondent in any crisis demands a level of competency in several sets of safety skill – including understanding of the needs of bystanders or the implications of the situation for a community. An individual’s intellectual understanding can be woven in as they develop their practical competency. Prevention can then become embedded in personal, organisational and community practice. And as each skill becomes embedded and used in a community, so the whole community becomes safer.


[2]Is a term coined by American civil rights advocate Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw to describe overlapping or intersecting social identities and related systems of oppression, domination, or discrimination. Intersectionality is the idea that multiple identities intersect to create a whole that is different from the component identities. These identities that can intersect include gender, race, social class, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, religion, age, mental disability, physical disability, mental illness, and physical illness as well as other forms of identity.

[3] Freire, P. (1979). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Continuum: New York. (page 10)

[4] Duncan-Andrade, J. M. R. (2009). Note to Educators: Hope Required When Growing Roses in Concrete. Harvard Educational Review, 79(3), 181-194.


  • Many specialist agencies[1] deliver co-facilitated workshops to model power sharing. These agencies spend time and resources on their SVPP and SVP facilitators, developing their skills and insights on sharing power respectfully and effectively.

  • Women’s Self Defence Network – Wahine Toa (WSDN-WT) work in the space between Primary and Secondary Prevention. They use a gendered analysis and an empowerment model which differs from regular women’s self-defence courses. These often risk reinforcing gender norms of women as ‘gatekeepers[2] who are responsible for their own safety. WSDN-WT course participants learn that sexual violence is never a victim’s fault[3]. This approach successfully challenges long-held beliefs that victims are to blame for sexual violence.

  • The Who are you? campaign focuses on behaviours to stop a sexual assault from happening. The campaign invites people to consider questions such as

    • What if we looked after each

    • What if we became ‘ethical’ bystanders?

    • What if we took action that could help keep others safe?

It explores the little things we can do, long before anyone gets to the point of harm. It examines the way sexual violence has an enormous impact on people’s lives – not just of the victims, but also their families, partners and friends. It offers ideas about actions that people can take to help keep everyone safe[4].

[1] Sexual Abuse Prevention Network, Rape Prevention Education, Sexual Abuse Support and Healing (SASH-Nelson) Inc, Rape Crisis National Collective.

[2] The notion that women are responsible for setting sexual boundaries, as men are incapable of controlling themselves.

[3] Jordan & Mossman, 2016



ACC’s Making a Difference: Sexual violence primary prevention toolkit has a wealth of knowledge and tools for any group or organisation who want to develop their own SVPP activity or programme including:

We suggest:

  • Making use of further resources available to develop Kaupapa Māori SVPP and SVP frameworks and models of practice.

  • What else is useful and relevant when managing and delivering SVPP and SVP activities with specialist and non-specialist services.

  • More child and adult teaching methods that are conducive to this work.