The National Community Attitudes towards Violence Against Women Survey, or NCAS, is a resource for anyone wanting to understand and prevent the serious and prevalent problem of violence against women.
It can be used by community educators, policy-makers, program planners, researchers, journalists, and students.
The NCAS tells us how people understand violence against women, their attitudes towards it, what influences their attitudes, and if there has been a change over time. It also gauges attitudes to gender equality and people’s preparedness to intervene when witnessing violence or its precursors.
The survey collects information through telephone interviews with over 17,500 Australians 16 years of age and over. Results are analysed for:
- the Australian community as a whole;
- each state and territory;
- young people;
- Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders;
- people from non-English speaking backgrounds;
- people with disabilities; and
- other relevant demographic and contextual indicators.
The NCAS is the world’s longest-running survey of community attitudes towards violence against women. The first survey took place in 1987. It has evolved over time, with the current NCAS based on a survey used in 1995.
It is implemented every 4 years. The last two national waves were led by VicHealth (2009 and 2013). ANROWS is proud to lead the next wave with the 2017 NCAS.
The Australian Government's Department of Social Services (DSS) funds the NCAS as part of The National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022. It is one way of monitoring the progress of the plan.
The 2017 NCAS is also associated with two other important national initiatives:
- It is closely aligned with Change the Story, the national framework for the primary prevention of violence against women and their children in Australia.
- It complements the Personal Safety Survey, which asks people about their experiences of violence. This survey is led by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and is funded by the DSS.
Measuring community attitudes is important because they serve as a "barometer" of how a community responds to social problems like violence against women. They can tell us how we are progressing towards ending the problem and where we should direct our actions to prevent it.
Collectively, attitudes influence the ways in which communities, organisations, and institutions respond to particular issues, both informally (e.g. via organisational cultures) or formally (e.g. via rules).
Although attitudes may influence behaviour directly, their main impact is through their influence on broader social norms and cultures. That is, the strongest influences on how people actually behave in a given situation are:
- what they believe other people, especially influential individuals, believe or expect of them.
- expectations communicated through other formal social controls, such as the rules of an organisation or laws.
This makes it important to collect both information on people’s individual attitudes as well social norms. The NCAS is in the process of developing ways of measuring social norms for future work in this area.
Preventing violence against women requires a range of actions, and changing attitudes are but one important step. We need to address the full range of structures, norms, and practices that support and allow violence against women to continue.
The NCAS investigates four key areas summarised in our research framework:
- knowledge of violence against women;
- attitudes towards violence against women;
- attitudes towards gender roles, relationships, and equality; and
- responses to witnessing violence, or its precursors.
While the survey contains some questions designed to measure social norms (the fifth area in the research framework), addressing this area more comprehensively is an area of future development for ANROWS.
The purpose of the survey is to:
- gauge knowledge of, and attitudes towards, violence against women in order to identify areas that need attention in future;
- assess changes in attitudes over time;
- improve understanding of the factors influencing knowledge, attitudes and responses; and
- identify segments of the population that may particularly benefit from activity to prevent violence against women.
The survey does this by analysing responses to individual questions in the survey.
It also puts responses to selected questions together to make "scales". Scales are made from groups of survey questions that measure people’s overall levels of knowledge or attitudinal support.
The scales can be used to assess change over time and to compare groups. They are also useful for examining if attitudes (or knowledge) are influenced by other factors, such as a person’s level of education or the area they live in.
Before each survey, the "instrument" is reviewed to make sure it is current. At the same time, it is also important to keep as many existing questions as possible in order to measure change over time.
The review and redevelopment process for the NCAS 2017 took place in consultation with interested stakeholders and experts, and involved extensive research and testing.
Among the new features of the 2017 NCAS are:
- Improved multi-item scales designed to measure people’s levels of:
- understanding of violence against women;
- endorsement of attitudes supportive of violence against women;
- endorsement of attitudes supporting gender equality.
- New scales and measures designed to better understand which factors shape attitudes towards violence against women, including measures of:
- support for violence in general;
- the gender make-up of a person’s social networks;
- prejudice against people from other cultures or from marginalised groups.
- A different approach to collecting data that will enable us to examine attitudes among specific occupations.
- New questions measuring how willing and confident people are to take action when they witness behaviours that may lead to violence.
- A strong alignment with Change the Story.
- Some approaches to gauging the influence of "social norms" measured by what people think others think or what is expected of them.
The Social Research Centre’s (SRC) highly skilled team of interviewers made over half a million telephone calls to reach our target of 17,500 interviews. They called a mix of randomly generated mobile and landline telephone numbers, and offered interviews in twelve languages other than English. In order to reach this target, interviewers were making calls every day for over 5 months.
The time it takes to complete the survey varies from person to person, but on average it took approximately 20 minutes. The NCAS aims for an average of 20 minutes to minimise the possible impacts of long interviews for respondents and the quality of the data collected from them.
To increase the comfort of both the interviewer and interviewee, we had females interview females, and males interview males. A choice was available for those not identifying as female or male.
Implementing a survey on a sensitive issue like violence against women requires careful processes to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the interviewers and respondents. This included explaining to respondents the sensitive nature of the survey, and reassuring them that they could take a break or end the interview. When appropriate, respondents were offered information about support services. A thorough complaints protocol was also developed.
All interviewers were trained to deal with difficulties respondents might experience in the interview. Support was offered to interviewers to discuss any issues resulting from their work on the survey.
Findings from the 2017 NCAS will be released at the end of 2018 and early 2019 and will include reports of findings for the community as a whole, as well as for:
- young people;
- Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders; and
- people from non-English speaking backgrounds.
Additional resources to communicate the findings, such as infographics and videos, are also being planned.
An overview of the NCAS and its new features are available here.
The NCAS survey provides a large and rich database which, will soon be available to researchers via the Australian Data Archive. Further detail on accessing the database will be available in the near future.
It is also important that the survey is regularly reviewed so that it addresses emerging issues and uses the best possible methodologies.
ANROWS works with the Australian government, other researchers, and interested stakeholders to ensure that the NCAS’s potential is realised and that it continues to be strengthened by:
- communicating the findings to a range of audiences using a variety of means;
- conducting further research based on the NCAS data;
- supporting other researchers to use the NCAS database;
- exploring questions arising out of the NCAS findings using different research methodologies;
- identifying and developing new ways to gauge attitudes and norms contributing to violence against women through NCAS; and
- consulting with stakeholders to identify ways in which the survey could better meet their needs.
The NCAS project is a unique, national, cross-university, cross-sector collaboration.
It is led by ANROWS in partnership with researchers from the Social Research Centre, the University of Melbourne, RMIT University, and the University of New South Wales. Data is collected by the Social Research Centre. A diverse range of experts and stakeholders are involved in NCAS through its governance structure.
Department of Social Services
Dr Marian Esler, Director, Evidence to Policy and Practice, Families Group
The NCAS Implementation Group, responsible for planning and implementing the survey, includes:
- Professor Jenny Morgan (co-chair), Law School, The University of Melbourne
- Professor Julie Stubbs (co-chair), Law School, UNSW
- Dr Mayet Costello, Director, Research Program, ANROWS
- Ms Jilly Charlwood, Director, Marketing and Communications, Our Watch
- Dr Kristin Diemer, Senior Research Fellow, The University of Melbourne
- Dr Nikki Honey, Research Director, Social Research Centre
- Ms Loksee Leung, Senior Data and Evaluation Advisor, Our Watch
- Ms Justine Mickle, Project Officer (NCAS), ANROWS
- Ms Violeta Marticorena Politoff, Senior Research Officer (NCAS), ANROWS
- Associate Professor Anastasia Powell, Senior Lecturer, Justice and Legal Studies, RMIT
- Ms Kim Webster, Manager (NCAS), ANROWS
If you are interested in contacting the NCAS team, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Below is a list of the available resources developed by VicHealth for the 2013 NCAS. You can also visit VicHealth’s NCAS page for more information on previous waves of the survey.Summary report: 8-page highlights report on key survey findings.
NCAS report: 100-page summary report on survey findings and their implications for the prevention policy and programming.
NCAS—Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders’ attitudes toward violence against women: This report is a summary of key findings as they pertain to people identifying as of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) descent or origin (341 respondents).
NCAS—attitudes towards violence against women among people born in non-main English speaking countries: This report summarises the findings of respondents who were born in a country in which English is not the main language spoken (3453 respondents).
Young Australians' attitudes towards violence against women report: This report focuses on the responses given by 1923 young people aged 16–24 years who participated in NCAS. These findings are compared with those aged 35–64 years of age, enabling results to be compared between two generations: young people and their parents.
Full technical report: 500-page detailed report on survey methodology, questionnaire development, and relevant literature.
Appendices: Appendix to the full technical report.
Video: Young Australians' attitudes towards violence against women (2013 NCAS)
VicHealth. (2016). Youth attitudes to gender equality and violence against women. Melbourne, VIC: Author.
Gallery of infographics (2013 NCAS):
|VicHealth. (2014). Findings from the 2013 National Community Attitudes towards Violence Against Women Survey (NCAS). Retrieved from https://www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/media-and-resources/publications/2013-national-community-attitudes-towards-violence-against-women-survey|