This November, cafes across the South East of Melbourne will take part in a region-wide campaign to raise awareness about violence against women, specifically focusing on actions individuals can take to call out disrespect when they see it.

16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence is a global campaign, led locally by Women’s Health in the South East (WHISE) and supported by a number of local government and community organisations.

“It’s fantastic to have once again cafés around the South East involved in the campaign and we are delighted to welcome new cafes this year,” says WHISE CEO, Kit McMahon.

“Research tells us that 79%1 of Australians want practical tips about ways to safely intervene when witnessing disrespect towards girls and women. Cafes participating in the campaign will be provided a range of tools, including custom-designed takeaway cups, to help café owners, employees and customers understand the simple actions that can be taken to call out violence against women,” says Fiona Cost from Cardinia Shire’s community initiative, Together We Can. 

“We know that lack of knowledge about how to intervene and the unclear nature of some everyday sexism are some of the main reasons that people find it hard to call out disrespectful behaviours. Starting on 25 November, this campaign aims to overcome these barriers and address the main drivers of violence against women in our community,” says Jodi Sessler, Community Partnerships and Program Manager at South East Water, a member community organisation involved in developing the campaign.

 “Cafés really are on the front line of providing customer service to the community. As a café owner I know that we can play a role here – it’s important to our staff, our customers and as a business owner I am keen to find ways that my business can make a difference. It’s great to feel that you can be a part of the change!” says Gina Hristidis, Mr Franks Café owner in Frankston.

“Getting the messages out through the local community is a vital part of the work that we all need to do to end violence against women. WHISE and its partners hope that this will start a very important discussion around why we need to challenge disrespect towards women and how it links to gender-based violence.” Says Ms McMahon.

If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit In an emergency, call 000. For more information about a service in your state or local area download the DAISY App in the App Store or Google Play.

Key Points:

  • The campaign starts 25 November, International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and concludes 10 December, Human Rights Day.
  • This is the third year that the campaign has run in the region.
  • Cafes play an important role in the community of bringing people together, which is why we want to spread the message to end gender-based violence through the use of these recyclable takeaway coffee cups.
  • Preventing violence and discrimination is a shared responsibility across the community, and is not just the responsibility of perpetrators or victims.
  • Research tells us that when sexism, discrimination and violence go unchallenged they are effectively condoned
  • Much international research suggests that engaging bystanders to take action when they witness incidents of violence, sexism and gender discrimination, may be an effective tool in violence prevention.

Hashtags: #RespectStartsWithMe #Callitout


[1]   ‘Australians want support to speak up against sexism, gender discrimination and gender equality’