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Call-in Culture – not Cancel Culture – the Way Forward in Tackling Domestic Violence

By Nicola Smith on December 24, 2021 in News

Prevention is part of the cure. Photo: Domenic Svejkar

A research team from the Design Innovation Research Centre at the University of Technology Sydney is looking for new ways to prevent domestic violence before it starts through community intervention.
Rather than working with domestic violence survivors or in rehabilitating perpetrators, the team hopes to work with men and broader communities to open up conversations about ‘relational health’.
While calls to care for physical, emotional and mental health are common in mainstream dialogue, reflecting on and caring for ourselves and our relationships with those close to us, as well as the broader community, is discussed less often.
The project, Preventing Domestic Violence in the East (PDVE), was sparked by fears of rising domestic violence rates during COVID lockdowns in early 2020 with uncertainty around the effects of social isolation. Supporting people to reflect on the beliefs and behaviours that can lead to violence can also help manage other social problems such as suicide, mental illness and social isolation.
The researchers are seeking to generate avenues for community conversations around domestic violence in which men can be vulnerable about stressors in their lives, as well as any issues they may be facing.
Conversations around domestic violence prevention are often stigmatised, with men not wanting to be perceived as potential offenders, particularly with high profile perpetrators of domestic violence often condemned under ‘cancel culture’.
Instead, the PDVE program seeks to use ‘call-in culture’, a phrase coined by academic Loretta J. Ross, to start conversations within communities about how they can care for one another and create healthy views of masculinity that can help prevent domestic violence before it starts.
Social Design Researcher Domenic Svejkar explained that calling people out can create barriers rather than change.
“Cancel culture can be dangerous if people and communities can’t discuss how they can change and move forward. We really hope call-in culture will be the next stage in our post-Me Too world,” Mr Svejkar explained.
One prong of the project is the #nowthatsstrength campaign, a poster and advertising campaign set to target public spaces where men of different generations and life stages interact such as pubs, RSL clubs and gyms. The campaign materials seek to challenge traditional notions of masculinity by reconceptualising and broadening what masculine strength is in our community.
The research shows that domestic violence is strongly linked to gender inequality, and that many gender stereotypes can be unhealthy for both men and women. However, researcher Mariana Zafeirakopoulos explained that the PDVE project pursues a community-based approach, where men are supported by other men as well as the broader Eastern Suburbs community.
“It’s about opening up the conversation around domestic violence with men and community in a safe and supportive way,” Ms Zafeirakopoulos said.
“For community change to happen, we need to consider the expectations we have of ourselves – our roles and identity – and how these expectations impact and interplay with others.”
The PDVE team would love to hear from readers of The Beast about their thoughts on domestic violence prevention and a community-based approach. If you have anything to share, you are invited to register your feedback by visiting
bit.ly/nowthatsstrength.

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