SVAM! Social Marketing Campaign

Database Filters


A Phoenix House Social Marketing Campaign, to promote and facilitate change regarding anti-social sexual behaviours.

Type of intervention

Public education

Target groups, level of prevention and subgroups

  • Communities and Families | Primary prevention | Young Adults (18-20 years), Adults (21+ years) | Male and female | Public education | English

Target population

The whole of the community.

Delivery organisation

Phoenix House, Bundaberg, Queensland, Australia.

Mode and context of delivery

Social marketing campaigns are delivered to whole of community each year as part of Sexual Violence Awareness Month (SVAM).

Phoenix House had been holding ‘Reclaim the Night’ events on the last Friday in October in Bundaberg, Queensland since 1995. Since the development of SVAM, Phoenix House now dedicates the whole of October each year to primary education and prevention strategies and events.

SVAM was an initiative of the Gold Coast Sexual Assault Support Service. In 2000, the Hon Judy Spence formally endorsed the initiative to call October ‘Sexual Violence Awareness Month’ in Queensland, and in 2002, the Hon Peter Beattie officially proclaimed October as SVAM.

Level/nature of staff expertise required

SVAM is organised annually by community members and Phoenix House staff. The social marketing component is more often organised by Phoenix House staff who work in community education and development initiatives however.

Intensity/extent of engagement with target group(s)

Intensity and engagement is dependent upon the strategy utilised. For example:

  • 2012: The ‘It’s Time ...To Talk about Sexual Abuse’, this eight page prevention booklet was provided within the Bundaberg News Mail and reached an audience of well over 60,000 people.
  • 2013: The ‘These hands are not for hurting bus campaign”. For the month of October, six local buses had these important messages displayed upon them. They covered an area of approximately 50,000km.

Description of intervention

Social marketing is one of the key strategies in the suite of prevention services provided by Phoenix House. Social marketing campaigns are part of the comprehensive organisational response to the prevention of sexual violence.

The goal of the Phoenix House social marketing campaigns are to facilitate change in social environments, and communities (Donovan & Henley, 2003), as well as a particular behaviour/s so as to achieve a more socially acceptable desired behaviour/s (Castelino, Colla, & Boulet, 2013). Media-based social marketing campaigns have been recognised by the World Health Organisation [WHO], 2006) as having the potential to contribute to the prevention of child sexual abuse “by raising public awareness of the issue and educating and fostering pro-social behaviours within families” (Horsfall, Bromfield, McDonald, 2010). The SVAM social marketing campaigns focus on strengths. Campaigns that have used shaming, fear and shock have led to further violence (Hastings, 2004), and campaigns that utilise confronting content to address child sexual abuse have the potential to expose communities to traumatic themes and images, and thus re-traumatise (Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault [ACSSA], 2010).

Objectives of the SVAM campaigns are to:

  • Increase community awareness of the context, nature and extent of sexual violence
  • Impart strategies aimed at maximising safety and minimising risks of sexual violence
  • To increase awareness of support and resources available
  • To challenge attitudes, values and behaviour in relation to sexual violence

A communication-change model (Macguire, 2001) is used to guide the development of the SVAM social marketing strategies. It considers five variables:

  • Source: Individual, group, or organisation delivering the campaign
  • Message: Content, form
  • Channel: usually mass media
  • Intended Audience
  • Destination: Intended outcomes of the campaign


The SVAM social marketing campaigns have not been evaluated and this is a significant gap in this programme. An Australian literature review (Horsfall, Bromfield, McDonald, 2010) has shown that there is relatively little evidence regarding the effectiveness of social marketing campaigns in preventing or reducing child sexual abuse. They identified twelve publications that provided impact and/or outcomes evaluation evidence which have demonstrated some capacity to facilitate change in people’s awareness, knowledge, attitudes and behaviour.


Castelino, T., Colla, M. & Boulet, J. (2013) Social marketing for preventing violence against women: Making every action matter. Literature review for the Challenge Family Violence Project. Melbourne: Borderlands Cooperative, and project partners.

Donovan, R., & Henley, N. (2003). Social marketing: Principles and practice. Melbourne: IP Communications. Hastings, G. (2004). Social Marketing: Why should the Devil have all the best tunes? Oxford: Elsevier.

Horsfall, Bromfield, McDonald, (2010). Are social marketing campaigns effective in preventing child abuse and neglect? National Child Protection Clearinghouse, Issue No 32. Retrieved from

World Health Organisation. (2006). Preventing child maltreatment: A guide to taking action and generating evidence. Geneva: World Health Organisation and International Society for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect. Retrieved from

Wray, R. J. (2006). Public health communication theory and strategies for interpersonal violence prevention. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, 13(3/4), 41–60.

Contact details

Kathy Prentice, Director

Image result for queensland svam


RATING: Pioneering