May 7th, 2018
A recent event “Actions for Businesses – Addressing Domestic Violence” hosted by the Committee for the Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) in Perth gave voice to this issue. With keynote speakers Rosie Batty (Domestic Violence Activist), Hon Simone McGurk (WA minister for Child Protection and Prevention of Family Violence), Joanne Farrell (General Manager Rio Tinto) and Jay Watson (WA State General Manager Westpac); strategies for approaching this dilemma were discussed.
Joanne Farrell argued that family and domestic violence was a challenging issue affecting all Australian businesses. Recognition of the issue at the senior tier was vital in creating an effective family and domestic violence strategy. She said that Rio Tinto’s Domestic and Family Violence policy process began with an alliance with White Ribbon, an organisation lobbying to end violence against women, who Ms Farrell says provided guidance and support. One of her main questions was how to start the conversation with her senior team. Rio began training leaders with skills on dealing with family and domestic violence issues. It initiated a range of support mechanisms for people at risk of or experiencing violence. This included 10 days of paid family and domestic violence leave, flexible working arrangements, emergency financial and accommodation assistance and confidential support. This support is particularly important, said Ms Farrell, as “it encouraged any employee experiencing family and domestic violence to remain in the workplace which often provides the financial security needed to leave a violent relationship”.
Similar support systems have been implemented at Westpac according WA Westpac General Manager, Jay Watson.
All agreed that attitudes can change but it takes a multi levelled long term strategy. Think of how the wearing of seatbelts has changed over the last 50 years. In the ‘70s it was almost unheard of to wear seatbelts. Now, when we get behind the wheel, we automatically clip on our seatbelt. This is a fine example of successful change driven by Federal and State government.
There is a national strategy signed by all states and the Federal Government to combat domestic violence. The main reason stated for domestic violence is that we have high levels of gender inequity. This can be changed. One of the places of change is the workplace.
As Joanne Farrell said “it is all actors in society playing their part. This starts at the top with Federal Government, followed by state, local, civil, big and small business and the individual. It’s about individuals making a decision that they will do what they can to address this problem, take action and see the violence stop”.
Contact Wentworth Advantage for guidance on setting up and implementing a Domestic Violence policy and access to our extensive resource library on health and wellbeing.
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