Changing perceptions from the ground up

Changing perceptions from the ground up

For weeks Australian newspaper front pages – particularly in Sydney – have focused on one story: random street violence fuelled by alcohol that now has resulted in the deaths of two teenagers.

The relentless attacks in Sydney’s CBD prompted Conal Hanna, the online editor of, to think of ways that may help change how young people think about committing acts of violence.

“It was an idea I had some time ago because, working in the media, you start to see a cycle of stories that you’ve read before,” he said.

“With the recent stories about alcohol-related violence, we believe that there are cultural issues at play. We know that you  just can’t affect cultural change by clamping down on people that break the law.”

Mr Hanna wanted to encourage young people to define what they thought was acceptable and communicate that, and so the Safer Sydney Ad Challenge was born.

“It’s all well and good in a newsroom to decide what is and isn’t acceptable,” he said. “The people who are committing this violence aren’t going to be swayed by what is on the front page of a newspaper, but we hope that these people will be swayed by their peers.”

The Safer Sydney Ad Challenge calls for readers to come up with an ad, either a 30-second video or an A4 poster, aimed at helping curb the prevalence of booze-fuelled violence in Sydney. The winning ad will be used across all Sydney Morning Herald platforms, as well as its creator receiving a prize of $2500. The competition is open to people of all ages.

“The main thing will be whether the ad appeals to the target audience,” Mr Hanna said.  “We don’t want anything that will antagonise the audience.  The RTA’s “pinkie” anti-speeding campaign, for example, might actually have been antagonistic – we don’t want to replicate that.

“It’s all about how you do it.  Of course, you wouldn’t make fun of the people who have been injured, but you can make light of the sorts of people who appear tough – trying to cut it off at the source.”

The campaign closes on Friday, February 21. To find out more and to enter click here

1 comment

  1. Read this wonderful, powerful, humane poem

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