Responsible Reporting of Violence Against Women Curriculum

By Caitlyn Hoggan


OurWatch has developed a suite of curriculum materials on reporting of violence against women for journalism students and are seeking to further trial the curriculum with Universities in semester 1 2019.

On any understanding of news values, violence against women is an enormous news and human-interest story. Violence Against Women is about human rights, crime, law enforcement, the economy, health and gender equality. There are very few aspects of life in Australia that are not touched by this issue. It underlies homelessness, economic disadvantage, mental health and many other issues.

Research has shown that who or what is selected to appear in the news and how those individuals or events are portrayed can have a significant impact on people’s attitudes, beliefs and behaviours (Flood & Pease, 2009). As such, news media is an ideal site to foster attitudes that support gender equality and condemn violence, but reporting on Violence against Women can be complex and difficult.

The curriculum materials have been developed in partnership with Associate Professor Margaret Simons, the DART Centre and the Domestic Violence Resource Centre, and are designed to be flexible and can be used in the wide variety of ways in which journalism skills are taught in Australian tertiary institutions. Those Universities that trial the curriculum will be required to support and participate in the evaluation of curriculum materials. This evaluation will identify areas for improvement of the curriculum and ways to better support educators.

Some courses will be able to dedicate a full three weeks of their curriculum to this issue, others will need to be selective in identifying what and how the materials will be incorporated. Adapting the materials to suit your needs is encouraged. The curriculum materials include:

  1. Three lessons: Lectures of between 45 minutes and an hour, comprising teaching notes and PowerPoint slides. 
  • Lesson One: Understanding Violence against Women 
  • Lesson Two: Finding things out 
  • Lesson Three: Communicating the results 
  1. Suggested essay questions, journalistic assignments and seminar activities
  1. Core readings for undergraduates and postgraduates.
  1. Example stories from a variety of media which are referred to throughout the lectures.
  2. Breakout Lectures: provides examples of many issues that are taught in many journalism courses, including
  • Gendered newsrooms
  • News sense
  • Objectivity
  • Interviewing traumatised people
  • Reporting from Indigenous communities

For those interested in finding out more about the curriculum, and trialling the resources, please contact Caitlyn Hoggan, Senior Practice Advisor at OurWatch. Email:

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