Careers in primary prevention

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

An increasing number of professionals from different sectors are applying their unique skills and experience to prevention work. If you’re passionate about preventing family and gender-based violence, 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 family and gender-based violence before it occurs.

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

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

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

Find out more about working in primary prevention – get an overview of the sector and find out where your work fits. 

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 or social science, public policy, health promotion, education, arts, humanities and social work.

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

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 the core skills and foundational knowledge articulated in Victoria’s Preventing Family Violence & 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
  • 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 of violence.

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
  • leadership, advocacy and policy reform.


Are you interested in a career in primary prevention? Here are some steps you can take to get started.

Familiarise yourself with the evidence base

There is a robust and expanding body of academic research, organisational reports, program evaluations, policy papers and submissions to inform and guide primary prevention work, including several key documents that all prevention practitioners in Victoria should be familiar with.

Visit the Evidence base, frameworks and strategies page for a list of foundational frameworks, strategies and evidence that underpins work to prevent violence against women in Victoria.

Organisations, such as Our Watch and Gender Equity Victoria have created and collated many useful evidence papers and resources for people who are interested in developing their knowledge further.

Familiarise yourself with key policy documentation

Primary prevention exists within a complex and changing policy context. All primary prevention practitioners in Victoria should have a good knowledge of these state and federal policy documents.

To read about the history, organisations, settings and challenges that make up Victoria’s prevention of violence against women sector visit Overview of the sector.

Undertake training

While accredited prevention training is still being developed, there are several short courses you can do to build your knowledge and understanding of primary prevention work.

We offer a range of training opportunities for people who are interested in developing their foundational knowledge in primary prevention.

Prevention in Practice Virtual Training
This two-day course is suitable for people who are interested in building their career in the primary prevention of violence against women sector or professionals who want to learn prevention program design. This course is mapped to the Capability Framework and covers the foundational skills and knowledge outlined in the framework.

Read more

Unpacking Resistance Virtual Training
Dealing with resistance comes with the terrain of primary prevention work and is a normal part of social change. This one-day training supports and equips practitioners with the strategies and tools needed to manage and respond to resistance in their work. Learn to unpack the different forms and levels of resistance and develop your skills to open up dialogue and feel more confident in having challenging conversations.

Read more

Family Violence Foundations (e-learn)
Developed by Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria in partnership with Family Safety Victoria, this free online course provides foundational information about preventing and responding to family violence and violence against women. It is an introduction to these areas and is suited to those working in the specialist family violence sector. This training is self-paced and can be done in your own time.

Read more

Build your network

Joining a primary prevention professional network is a great way to stay on top of the latest news and job opportunities in the sector, meet prospective mentors and colleagues, and access key resources and information that will improve your knowledge and skill set.

Partners in Prevention (PiP) is one of the longest running networks for Victorian prevention practitioners. It provides a range of networking and capability building activities where existing practitioners and people who are interested in joining the workforce can connect, share and learn.

Join the Partners in Prevention network and receive regular email bulletins with the latest prevention news, resources, events, and training and networking opportunities.

Many organisations in the primary prevention sector send out regular informative email newsletters. Signing up to these mailing lists is another great way to keep up with the latest sector news, events, training and job opportunities.

Consider signing up to:

  • Municipal Association of Victoria Prevention of Violence Against Women & Gender Equality E-news Update – latest resources, training and sector opportunities, with a focus on local government initiatives
  • Family violence reform newsletter – updates on family violence reforms from the Victorian Government
  • Our Watch newsletter – latest evidence, tools and resources, and campaigns developed by the leading organisation in the primary prevention of violence against women and their children in Australia
  • Gender Equity Victoria newsletter – updates from the peak advocacy body for gender equity in Victoria
  • Women’s Health Victoria – updates on upcoming training and events and other news and publications relating to women’s health issues
  • Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) Notepad – fortnightly updates on latest research, events, training, news and issues in the media related to violence against women
  • The Australian Women Against Violence Alliance (AWAVA) Weekly Round-Up – weekly updates on the news from the preventing and responding to violence against women sector
  • Women with Disabilities Victoria (WDV) Violence and Disability Quarterly – quarterly updates on sector development and policy relating to violence against women with disabilities.

Be creative

Experience you might already have

Many skills easily transfer to prevention work. For example, grant or report writing, project management, budgeting, stakeholder engagement, research and analysis, and communications and marketing.

If you have experience working with specific groups (such as young people) and particularly in schools where prevention work is well established in Victoria, it will help you in many primary prevention roles.

Apply your skills to build your experience

You could incorporate prevention work into your existing role. For example:

  • Leading an initiative to start conversations about the gendered drivers of violence against women in your workplace or local community.
  • Consider how gender equality is promoted at your work and identify and encourage areas that can be improved.


Think about the skills, knowledge and contacts you already have and can use to support an organisation with a new project or initiative. Use the policy information and evidence base in this section to prepare your idea and ask for a meeting. 

Where to find jobs

  • The Victorian Government’s Family Violence Jobs Portal has a range of family violence roles in Victoria. You can search by keyword, category and location or set up a job alert to get notifications about new opportunities.
  • Ethical Jobs advertises jobs in the charity and not for profit sector.
  • Pro Bono Australia promotes job opportunities in purpose-driven organisations across the country. You can sign up for their weekly email to get a list of career opportunities.


Read about the types of projects you could be working on and meet some people working in prevention of violence against women.

Some job titles for prevention practitioners in Victoria are:

  • Health Promotion Officer
  • Preventing Violence Against Women Project Officer
  • Gender Equity Officer
  • Primary Prevention Specialist
  • Respectful Relationships Officer
  • Equity and Inclusion Officer

Meet some practitioners

While accredited prevention training is still being developed, there are several short courses you can do to build your knowledge and understanding of primary prevention work.

We offer a range of training opportunities for people who are interested in developing their foundational knowledge in primary prevention.

Nisha Liyanage

Health Promotion Officer
Women’s Health in the North


  • Implementing WHIN’s Free From Violence Workforce Capacity Building Project and Building a Respectful Community 2017-2021, the regional prevention of violence against women strategy
  • Planning and delivering training, including Bystander Training, Prevention of Violence Against Women 101 Training and Gender Equity Training.
  • Developing resources and tools, including the Communications Guidelines for Preventing Violence Against Women which aims to support partner organisations in applying a gender lens to communications.

Shelley Hewson-Munro

Project Manager
HealthWest Partnership


  • Project planning, including research, engaging stakeholders and the community, and creating marketing and communication strategies.
  • Project implementation, including recruiting participants, developing and facilitating training, mentoring participants, fostering connections between stakeholders, evaluation, seeking funding through grant applications and partnerships.
  • Completing the project including reporting, organising community events to present learnings, and creating a resource model to ensure work is sustainable.

You could be working on primary prevention projects like these

Partners in Prevention: DVRCV
Partners in Prevention is an ongoing project that provides a range of networking and capability building activities to support current and future prevention practitioners.

Learn more.

Equality@Work: Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health
Equality@Work is a workplace prevention program to address gender inequality and other intersecting forms of inequality which make immigrant and refugee women particularly vulnerable to family violence and other forms of violence against women.

Learn more.

Working Together with Men: HealthWest Partnership
Working Together with Men worked with men at the grassroots and supported them to co-develop and implement small primary prevention strategies or projects with other men in the communities.

Learn more

Carlton Respects: Carlton Football Club
Carlton Respects is a sport-setting based program that aims to educate the football community about gender equality to prevent violence against women.

Learn more.

Contact the Safe and Equal Prevention Helpdesk via email at any time for prevention-related information and links to prevention resources, contacts and networks. We can also support practitioners facing resistance and backlash. Email us at


With the Safe and Equal monthly bulletin