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How employers can support domestic violence sufferers in the workplace
Today is White Ribbon Day, the National Day to Stop Men's Violence Against Women. Greg Tadman, Regional Human Resources Director, Asia Pacific for Michael Page looks at how business can help raise awareness around this important issue which some have labelled an epidemic.
The statistics on domestic violence in Australia are frightening. On average, one Australian woman dies every five days as a result of domestic violence, one in six Australian women over the age of 15 have experienced physical or sexual violence from a current or former partner, and one in four women have experienced emotional abuse from a current or former partner.
It is therefore likely that there is someone in your workplace enduring unacceptable treatment at the hands of a partner.
As a business it can be difficult to know how to assist in such a personal matter, however it is important to recognise that many domestic violence victims are isolated from support networks and their workplace can play a critical role in providing a sense of support and community.
So what can workplaces do?
Raise awareness & educate
Make it clear that your company believes domestic violence is unacceptable and that you are committed to supporting victims. By raising awareness you help to reduce the stigma around domestic violence, which can be helpful in encouraging victims to seek help and for concerned parties to speak up when they suspect something is wrong.
Be aware of the signs
Signs of violence aren't always as obvious as bruising or a black eye. Things like a drop in performance, unexcused absences, and visits or phone calls from a partner that appear to distress an employee may all be a sign that something is not right. While we must be careful not to get too suspicious, if you notice unexpected and out of character behaviour along these lines, you should offer the employee support. Whilst the issues may not relate to domestic violence, there may be something else going on they need help with.
Outline what assistance you can offer
Domestic violence impacts an employee's ability to perform. If your company offers formal support via an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), make it known, and helping connect people with professional services can often make a difference.
White Ribbon runs a workplace accreditation programme that recognises employers who take active steps to prevent and respond to violence against women. You can read more about this great programme here.
Make a donation
Getting your company involved in fundraising activities or to commit to sponsoring programmes that help combat domestic violence and provide support to survivors can have a huge impact. At Michael Page, we held morning teas at our various offices to discuss the prevalence of domestic violence and raise awareness, we also managed to raise some money for the White Ribbon initiative. Every little bit helps!
If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit www.1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000.