Disappointing, dangerous, and concerning. This was how central Victorian women's advocates described the results of a survey into young Australians' attitudes towards domestic violence and gender equality.
People aged 16-24 are becoming more supportive of gender equality, but their attitudes have gone backwards in some regards, according to the survey from Australia's National Research Organisation for Women's Safety.
Several advocates called for the whole community to join together to model respectful relationships and gender equality to fight this change in attitude.
Annie North Women's Refuge chief executive Julie Oberin said it was disappointing that change was so slow and that some attitudes, particularly those of young men, had regressed.
The survey revealed attitudes that were dangerous for women and children, Ms Oberin said.
24 percent of young people did not agree that violence against women was common.
14 percent of young men didn't understand that harassment by repeated emails or text messages was domestic violence.
"We know the link between coercive control and domestic violence in a relationship and it is disappointing that so many young men think it is okay and natural to do this," she said.
"I am really disturbed that so many young men think that controlling tactics in their relationships are alright. I'm also still shocked to see that so many young men think it is okay to track and stalk their partner."
Loddon Campaspe Centre Against Sexual Assault chief executive Kate Wright said the findings reflected a disconnect between and communication of an attitude and the living of it.
One in seven young Australians thought a man would be justified to force sex if a woman initiated it, but then changed her mind and pushed him away.
Nearly one third of men aged 16-24 years believed that many women who say they have been raped had instead led the man on and then had regrets.
Ms Wright said it was "alarming" as a sexual assault agency that there was still a misunderstanding about consent among young people.
She said the findings showed that young people needed more support.
Challenging people's attitudes needed to occur in business, the media, schools, workplaces and online, she said.
Ms Wright identified technology as one of the key ways young people communicated, which needed to be addressed.
"We've still got a lot of catch up to do with all of the work that's occurring in government and in the community around condoning violence against women and challenging gender stereotypes. [It] actually needs to be transferred into action by all of us," she said.
"Whilst we talk about gender equality and consent, and equity in relationships, there are still attitudes among all age groups that reinforce that we're not achieving gender equality."
Centre for Non-Violence chief executive Margaret Augerinos said the survey reflected the push back she sees when talking about gender equality as a driver of violence against women.
22 per cent of young men think men should take control of a relationship and be the head of the household.
Ms Augerinos said statistics like this showed that our society had a long way to go towards equality.
She said there was a push back because people did not understand what equality was and how it would benefit everyone.
Ms Augerinos said changing attitudes towards domestic violence and gender equality began at the top.
"People in positions of power need to be modelling and demonstrating respect and equality," she said.
"When you have that culture, it then gives license for others in the community to start to engage with those sort of behaviours.
"If we say, 'Anything goes', then anything goes. But if we say very firmly, 'These things are not okay, it's not okay to behave in these', then that sends a community message."
Chief executive of Women's Health Loddon Mallee Tricia Currie said that negative attitudes towards women could be changed by promoting gender equality.
Organisations like her own needed to help men learn the skills to call out violence, or discrimination against women, she said.
The survey showed most young people said they would be bothered if they heard a male friend insulting or verbally abusing his partner, but fewer were confident they would act, the survey showed.
Ms Currie was also concerned by a lack of knowledge surrounding consent. The survey showed 12 per cent of young people thought women often say, 'No', when they mean 'Yes', while one in eight young people did not know that non-consensual sex in marriage was a criminal offence.
"A good percentage of the young people were not able to articulate what consent was. So that's something that we can better support young people with understanding," Ms Currie said.
"A kiss is not consent. Consent is ... actually a negotiated position or it's an understanding within a respectful relationship that both of those young people are consenting to what's occurring."
Ms Currie said violence against women and gender equality were issues that the community needed to address together.
"The call to action is that [this generation] can be the generation that actually puts an end to violence against women," Ms Currie said.
"Young men in particular really need more support to overcome or address the sort of pressures that will stop them from speaking up and challenging discrimination and sexism.
"We really want to help young people to keep improving those attitudes about gender equality."
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