Fiona McNamara, General Manager
Sexual Abuse Prevention Network
04 801 8975
It's Our Business is a programme that increases the sexual violence prevention skills of people working in the hospitality industry.
When it ran
The programme has been running since 2009 with ongoing development. The most substantial redevelopment was in 2014–2015. It was evaluated in 2015.
It’s Our Business is a programme for people who work in the hospitality industry, or other professionals who may interact with people in alcohol-fuelled environments. Most often the programme is run with bar staff and duty managers. We have also run versions of the programme with taxi drivers, City Hosts and emergency services personnel
It's Our Business aims to promote identification and prevention of sexual violence within hospitality settings and other alcohol-fuelled environments.
Using principles of bystander intervention, we aim to encourage a zero-tolerance policy to sexual aggression on licensed premises, and build professionals’ skills to identify sexual assault and behaviour that may lead to sexual assault and to respond appropriately.
The programme is designed to empower people to help others, and encourage community commitment to sexual violence prevention.
What we did
It’s Our Business is a four-hour workshop.
Delivery includes Who Are You? — a short, New Zealand-made film that seeks to demonstrate how bystanders can intervene to prevent potentially sexually harmful situations from happening.
Throughout 2015, delivery to four groups was evaluated. The general consensus among key informants was that the workshops used a good variety of teaching methods and resources to engage participants. There was a strong endorsement of the more interactive and skill-based parts of the workshop.
When assessed against evidence-based principles of ethical bystander interventions, the evaluator rated the It’s Our Business workshops as well developed.
Theories and models
- The design of It's Our Business accords with the "spectrum of prevention" framework (within a public health approach) on at least four of its six levels.
- The agencies responsible for delivery of It's Our Business have an intervention logic that shows how the workshops expect to make a contribution to a reduction in the frequency and seriousness of sexual violence incidents and a disruption in peer cultures that support sexual violence in the Wellington region.
Format and delivery
- The workshops are scheduled and tailored to fit bar staff’s needs. Some are held in participants’ workplaces.
- They are run by carefully selected peer facilitators with small groups over a four-hour period.
- the workshops cover skill development around bystander intervention, as well as some other related topics.
- The facilitators draw on local statistics and examples of reported incidents of sexual assault to help make the content relevant for bar staff.
- The course content includes the contribution of alcohol to risk of sexual violence
- The facilitators use a variety of teaching resources (for example, alcohol advertisements, video clips — especially Who Are You?). These more interactive and skill-based sections of the workshop were assessed most favourably by participants.
- The workshops appear to be equipped to deal with disclosure, though none happened at the workshops the evaluators observed.
Who Are You?
Who Are You? was also evaluated. Information for the evaluation was gathered through before and after surveys with It's Our Business participants, as well as interviews with key informants and observations at four of the workshops.
The evaluation found that Who Are You?:
- received positive feedback from its intended audience of younger New Zealanders
- reflects national statistics that show young women are three times more likely to be at risk of sexual assault than young men, and that the majority of perpetrators of sexual violence are known to the victim
- gives unambiguous messaging in that whatever the circumstances there is never an excuse for a young person to sexually assault another young person
- includes scenarios showing different forms of bystander involvement (individuals and groups) and shows male characters, friends and strangers intervening
- illustrates the contribution of large amounts of alcohol to the risk of sexual violence
- succeeds in getting the message across that looking out for and intervening to prevent potentially sexually harmful situations from happening among young people accords with their collective best interests
- avoided victim blaming to some extent
- is equipped to deal with disclosure.
Suggested improvements or developments include:
- a greater emphasis on skills development
- restructuring of the workshops so that the bystander intervention skills-based activities are introduced earlier and take up more of the course time
- including additional resources that are more appropriate for different audiences (eg for more ethnically diverse audiences, gay audiences etc)
- extend the target audience to security staff stationed at bars.
Suggested enhancements to Who Are You? include additional versions of the film with:
- a sexual assault between two young gay people
- a bystander scenario in which the perpetrator character is confronted about his or her behaviour by friends in a bar
- some drug (other than alcohol) taking.
These suggested improvements have been used to inform development of the programme since 2015.
"Bar staff are ideal people to train to identify and prevent sexual violence, because they are in a strong position to intervene in their professional roles and it complements more general host responsibility. All adults can play a role in preventing sexual violence and hospitality staff can share the skills they develop in the It’s Our Business programme in other parts of their lives: in other work and in their social circles, which contributes to the long-term goal of ending sexual violence in all parts of society.”
— Fiona McNamara