What can employers do to end violence against women

Friday 25 November, 2016

Today is White Ribbon Day, a national awareness day to encourage us all to understand domestic violence and stop violence against women. One in three Australian women have experienced physical or sexual violence perpetrated by someone they know, so if you run a team there’s a good chance you’ll have employed someone who has been subject to (or someone who has perpetrated) domestic violence.




There are three really important things you need to do:

First, you need to pay attention to your people and be mindful of signs. It’s usually not easy to know if someone you work with is experiencing domestic violence. Violence and abuse are experienced in many different ways, not just external injuries. Because their partners can often be controlling and jealous, victims could come across as withdrawn or overly shy, only have access to small amounts of money, or have very low self-esteem. However, it’s also possible they will show none of these signs.

Second, you should do what you can to foster an environment in which people feel empowered or more confident to raise personal issues. Of course, violence of any description in or out of the workplace is totally unacceptable. So let your workforce know domestic violence has potential implications for the workplace, not just the home, and that you’ll support them if they raise the issue with you. Make sure your leaders are attuned to the signs of domestic violence and get your company behind campaigns like White Ribbon Day.

It might even be worth establishing a domestic violence policy if your workplace doesn’t have one. Like any policy it’s critical you communicate the aims and details to your team so they understand it’s not just a box-ticking exercise.

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Third, and most importantly, support anyone who tell you they’re experiencing violence at home. Judging, making light of, or not believing someone who confides in you can be devastating for the person disclosing their situation. Make sure they understand it’s not their fault, listen to them, discuss their options, and offer to give them support from (or even take them to) a counselling service. If they need time off work to escape from or deal with their personal circumstances, be reasonable about compassionate leave. We can help you manage this. If they do take leave, you should keep in touch with the person to see how they are going.

Depending on what industry you work in, the law might require you to report disclosures of violence where children are involved. Check with your state police for more information if this issue arises.

It’s a national shame that one woman dies at the hands of her current or former partner each week in our country. It’s important to remember that this isn’t a single-gender issue. While speeches like the one this week from Labor MP Emma Husar can be incredibly powerful, men must play a key role in the solution. A system that produces men who abuse women, produces men who abuse other men. Business leaders (and that’s the majority of CCIQ’s members) have an opportunity to take a stand with women and make other men pay attention. Check out this campaign including our CEO Stephen Tait, and take a moment to consider what you can do to speak out and put an end to domestic violence.


Counselling and support

1800 737 732
24 hour, national sexual assault, family and domestic violence counselling line for any Australian who has experienced, or is at risk of, family and domestic violence and/or sexual assault.

13 11 14
Lifeline has a national number who can help put you in contact with a crisis service in your State.

Relationships Australia
1300 364 277
Support groups and counselling on relationships, and for abusive and abused partners.


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Jason Wales

About the contributor:

Jason is the manager of CCIQ's Employer Assistance team.  



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