Working to End Violence Against Women
25 July 2016 at 11:30 am
South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill has said employers need to realise that violence against women is something that affects them.
The state government has been working to end violence against women, with 11 of the state’s government departments now gaining accreditation as White Ribbon Workplaces.
Over the past 18 months, 20 workplaces nationally, including South Australia’s Department of the Premier and Cabinet, Attorney General’s Department, Department of Correctional Services and SA Police, took part in the internationally recognised program, which has reached almost half-a-million Australians through their jobs.
Weatherill told Pro Bono Australia News that as the largest employer in the state, the South Australian Government was setting an example.
“We want to build a supportive, inclusive and diverse workplace,” Weatherill said.
“I am very proud that all of the departments have been successful in achieving accreditation.
“We are now officially recognised by White Ribbon Australia as being a pioneer in contributing to national cultural change to prevent and respond to violence against women.
“It is vital that both men and women get involved, support new workplace initiatives, stand up and speak out to prevent violence against women.”
The premier committed all South Australian Government agencies to becoming White Ribbon Accredited Workplaces when he launched Taking a Stand: Responding to Domestic Violence in October 2014.
The document included a number of policy responses – some directly relating to the issues raised by the coroner following the inquest into the death of Zahra Abrahimzadeh who was murdered by her estranged husband in 2010 – as well as other broader measures to help prevent domestic violence.
As part of the workplace accreditation process, organisations were required to make a number of changes, including the provision of leave to staff experiencing violence, codes of conduct, support services and staff training.
The new complement of White Ribbon Workplaces brings the total number of Australian employers that have attained accreditation to 65, including those in the traditionally male industries of stevedoring, mining and construction.
White Ribbon Australia CEO Libby Davies said real change could come about through addressing domestic violence via workplaces.
“Most organisations employ perpetrators and victims of domestic violence at one time or another. These White Ribbon Workplaces are walking the talk of violence prevention,” Davies said.
“Disclosing an experience of violence to supervisors can be traumatic for victims and an unhelpful response significantly reduces the likelihood a person will disclose again. It can also be a stressful time for bosses receiving the news.
“Training is critical to safely intervening, whether it be by calling out staff who are displaying disrespectful behaviours or recognising the signs of abuse and getting help for staff.”
It comes as the South Australian Government is also calling for community discussion on preventing domestic violence.
On Sunday, Attorney-General John Rau and Minister for the Status of Women Zoe Bettison released a Domestic Violence Discussion Paper, which is to be followed by a six-week consultation period, inviting public feedback.
The paper includes discussion of a Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, under which a person’s history of domestic violence could be disclosed to a partner, as well as discussion of initiatives to support victims in speaking up and ways to improve homelessness services.
Rau said the first step in addressing a problem was to expose it.
“Domestic violence is everybody’s business. The discussion paper encourages the public to take notice and get involved,” Rau said.
“The discussion paper shines a spotlight into the dark corners, providing unprecedented levels of information and analysis in South Australia.
“The topics set out potential areas for reform to create a framework for authorities and the community to work together to reduce domestic violence.
“Success will hinge on the measures being appropriate, efficient and effective – qualities which require community support.”