In summary

  • Swinburne Pathway and Vocational Education (PAVE) students raise awareness around the prevention of family violence and challenge old ideas about masculinity.
  • A thought-provoking series of mock advertisements produced by PAVE students highlight attitudes around the saying ‘boys will be boys’

Swinburne Advanced Diploma of Screen and Media students have produced Boys Will Be Boys: a series of mock advertisements to raise awareness around the prevention of family violence and challenge old ideas about masculinity.

The phrase ‘boys will be boys’ was first recorded in English in 1589. Originating from the Latin proverb: 'Children (boys) are children (boys) and do childish things'. The expression has changed over the years into a dismissive way to excuse the attitudes and actions of boys and men of all ages. At best it is used to describe rowdy or naughty behaviour. At worst, it is used to 'explain away’ hostile attitudes and behaviours toward women.

Supporting Swinburne's commitment to creating a safe and tolerant community, students took on the challenge of writing, producing and starring in 30-second video advertisements that get viewers thinking about their experiences with harmful attitudes and behaviours.

The campaign is part of the Family Violence Primary Prevention pilot in Victorian TAFEs. It also aligns with Swinburne's work through the national Respect. Now. Always. initiative, which aims to prevent sexual assault and sexual harassment within Australian universities and empower victims of assault or harassment to seek help and support. Other Swinburne programs include the MATE Bystander Program, a Consent Matters training module and the peer-to-peer Be a Better Human initiative, alongside a multitude of resources around respectful online behaviour.

Swinburne is sharing the series on social media in acknowledgement of the United Nation's International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls, which takes place on 25 November.

Behind the scenes – delving into gender-based violence behaviours and attitudes

The following 'behind the scenes' video takes a look at the thinking behind the concept of the series as a whole, as well as insights from the students themselves on what their individual advertisements meant to them. 

Although the overarching project was developed as a reflection of Swinburne's values around preventing violence against women, students were encouraged to come up with their own personal take on the topic.

Kathryn Smyth, Family Violence Primary Prevention Officer, is part of the family violence prevention project at Swinburne, which supported the students on the direction of the series.

"We asked students to think about their behaviours and attitudes and how they could be improved," Ms Smyth says.

"Then they had to come with their own scripts, their own storyboards and their own concepts that they believe would have an impact on these attitudes, norms and behaviours."

Catcalling: street harassment is another instance of sexual objectification

As its title suggests, Catcalling, created by students Sophie Bonollo and Daniel Woods, focuses on the harmful behaviour of catcalling and its damaging effects. 

"We aimed to make the audience uncomfortable," Ms Bonollo says.

"We wanted it to feel gross and dirty and real and gritty, so we could create empathy within our target audience, which is ultimately the men who do those exact things." 

Group attitude

Students also produced an advertisement called which explores how harmful and harassing behaviour towards women can become normalised and amplified within group settings.  The video conveys how young men can be influenced by one another to replicate these behaviours and to do so more brazenly than they would outside of a group setting.

For advice and support if you, or someone you know at Swinburne, is affected by inappropriate, concerning or threatening behaviour, contact Safer Community by email at  safercommunity@swin.edu.au  or online at swinburne.edu.au/safercommunity. Reports can be made anonymously. Safer Community support and resources, including reporting, can also be made via the Swinburne app.

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