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Webinar Makes Workplaces Part of the Solution for Gender Violence


Monday, 13th February 2017 at 8:47 am
Wendy Williams, Journalist
Workplaces are being called on to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem when it comes to gender violence.


Monday, 13th February 2017
at 8:47 am
Wendy Williams, Journalist


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Webinar Makes Workplaces Part of the Solution for Gender Violence
Monday, 13th February 2017 at 8:47 am

Workplaces are being called on to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem when it comes to gender violence.

1800RESPECT, the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service for people living in Australia, is set to host a webinar on Tuesday to help people better understand why gender-based violence is a workplace issue and how to respond.

The aim is to start a conversation about what people can do to ensure the health and safety of women, both within the workplace and their homes.

The webinar will be presented by The Full Stop Foundation, which was established by Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia.

Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia executive officer Karen Willis told Pro Bono News it was a workplace issue.

“The whole concept around it is that in the first instance domestic violence will cost about $1.9 billion a year for employers so it is a great cost to our economy,” Willis said.

“Mostly that is in people needing to take leave either to attend court or move house or look after the kids or just because they have spent the night before being yelled and abused and just really can’t go to work today.

“And in the past what has happened is employers just decided that it was all too hard and it was the employee that was at fault and they got the sack, which of course even further reduces that employees options in terms of escaping.

“So employers nowadays are saying: ‘We want to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem… we have a valued employee going through a rough trot, if we give them a hand, we can assist them to safety and recovery and we will continue to have a valued employee.’”

The webinar, Workplace Responses to Gender Based Violence, will cover:

  • trauma and other impacts of sexual assault and domestic violence
  • how a traumatised person may present in the workplace
  • skills in responding compassionately to a person who has experienced sexual assault and/or domestic or family violence
  • workplace strategies to create a supportive workplace culture
  • tactics used by perpetrators.

Willis said it was a question of having appropriate policies in the workplace and making sure the first responders were trained to know how they can support the person and how to develop a safety plan.

“What workplaces need to do in the first place is develop policies, around what they will do and how they will do it,” she said.

“Then they need to make sure that those who might be the first responders, so whether that’s the team leader or HR or whatever, is trained so that if someone comes to them and says: ‘I’ve experienced domestic violence,’ they know what to do.

“Now that is not about being a counsellor, but it is about knowing what the organisations policies are and also knowing the things to say and not to say, and also to think a bit about workplace safety planning.

“So it might be in discussion with the employee, that maybe there needs to be some arrangements made about flexible work hours because the offender may know what time they come to and from work, or another location where they can park their car or a desk at the back just incase the offender decides to come in the front door or a change of email because the offender is harassing them via email, so there can be a whole range.”

Under national employment standards, employers are now required to make flexible arrangements where an employee might be experiencing domestic violence, and many employers have included a range of different responses around domestic violence leave.

Willis said there had been a definite shift for employers to take the issue seriously and have processes in place.

“Ten years ago, this wasn’t even on the radar and workplaces would be saying: ‘I don’t even see why we should be thinking about this,’” she said.

“Now we get lots of requests from workplaces saying: ‘Can you come and run the training and do things with us?’ or: ‘Can you look at our policy?’ or: ‘Can you give us some advice?’

“What we do know, over the years there have been incredible acts of kindness. I remember one woman I was working with a long time ago, awful violence and needed to do a runner and the boss showed up with a truck and half a dozen of his mates and loaded everything out of the house and in the truck and had another mate who had a flat that was for rent: ‘There you are, you can stay there until you get organised’ and while they were unloading he recognised that the fridge was just about to die and next minute he’s back with a new fridge and set that up and gold.

“Human beings that you just want millions of them, can we clone you mate!

“So there has always been people who do that but more and more now than ever, and having a formalised process in the workplace, this is part of the suite of services that employers offer our employees: ‘We want to be an employer of choice, we want to be part of the solution, we don’t accept that domestic violence is acceptable in anyway shape or form and if we can do our bit in this workplace to help someone be safe from that, then we might not be able to change the big picture but we can do out bit here.’”

The webinar will take place 1pm 14 February. To find out more about the webinar and to register see here.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with any of the issues mentioned please visit www.1800respect.org.au or call 1800 737 732.


Wendy Williams  |  Journalist |  @ProBonoNews

Wendy Williams is a journalist specialising in the Not for Profit sector.

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