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Recognising domestic and family violence as a workplace issue

Although we all would like to think that violence does not impact our co-workers or workplaces, unfortunately, the statistics are not in our favour.

Two-thirds of Australian women experiencing violence – approximately 800,000 women- are in some form of paid employment.[1] Add to this staggering figure the fact one in three victims of violence is male, and many of them are also in paid employment, and it is clear that domestic violence is a workplace issue.

Impact on the Workplace

Domestic and family violence (DFV) is not a personal issue that only occurs outside business hours. The negative repercussions of violence often flow to the working environment.

  • Violence at the workplace: many victims of DFV experience stalking violence at their place of work. Perpetrators often will repeatedly contact their victims at work (email, phone calls, unannounced visits) with the purpose of getting them fired, and in turn, increase the victim’s economic dependency and lack of confidence.
  • Toll on productivity: domestic violence often undermines the victim’s workplace participation, with victims often experiencing issues such as absenteeism, decreased performance, productivity loss during work,i and ultimately, inability to maintain employment.
  • Economic costs: According to a report recently released by Deloitte Access Economics [2], if no action is taken, the production-related cost of Australia’s domestic and family violence could rise to $15.6 billion annually by 2021/2022. Up $3 billion from the last figures released in 2008-09.

Leading the change, Autopia’s DFV prevention plan

At Autopia, we understand that providing a safe and supportive environment for victims and survivors of domestic and family violence is a must for any workplace. For this reason, we have developed a plan to address DVF effectively and build a culture of respect and gender equality.

Starting the conversation about DFV in the workplace

Research suggests that many employees often do not disclose their DFV situation at the workplace for fear of adverse consequences for their employment. At Autopia, we want to ensure employees know they are not alone; we firmly believe DFV is never acceptable and have developed strategies to support employees and connect them to appropriate support services. To achieve this, we have started to roll out initiatives to bring awareness around DFV in the workplace.

DFV policy development

Autopia has adopted the Support for employees affected by domestic and family violence – Queensland Government model policy template”, considered best practice and details support options available at our workplace, including:

  • Access to a minimum of 10 days per year of paid DFV special leave
  • Access to flexible working arrangements.
  • Provide other reasonable workplace adjustments such as quick change of email address and telephone, change or reduction of duties, and secure parking.
  • Access to counselling through our employee assistance programs (EAP).

DVF in the workplace education and training

To increase our staff understanding of DFV and how to support affected colleagues effectively, a few weeks ago, Julie McKay, former Executive Director of UN Women Australia, ran our first domestic and family violence training session for our management staff. The training session focussed on how to recognise, respond and refer employees experiencing DFV to appropriate support services. We will provide access to this DFV training session to all our staff members.

Autopia and its executive team will continue working towards the prevention of DFV, and ensuring we provide a supportive environment to all our employees, in particular, those experiencing violence.

We are truly committed to building a culture of inclusion and respect and as such, we will continue our work promoting gender diversity and flexibility in the workplace.

If you are experiencing domestic and family violence, contact the National Domestic Violence Line on 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) or Mensline Australia on 1300 789 978.

Anyone affected by the topics raised in this post can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.
[1] Australian Bureau of Statistics (2005) Personal Safety Survey, Australia, (Reissue), Catalogue No. 4906.0

Posted by Larissa Varela

Marketing Manager and Gender Equality Champion

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