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Sat Dec 26, 2015, 02:14 PM

It's time for employers to back domestic violence victims and stand up to abusers [View all]

It's time for employers to back domestic violence victims and stand up to abusers

With Australia suffering from a domestic violence ‘epidemic’, employers have a responsibility to protect the safety and job security of victims


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Australian of the year Rosie Batty addresses the national press club about domestic violence in Canberra in June 2015. Employers are increasingly acknowledging their role in supporting employees experiencing domestic violence. Photograph: Mike Bowers for the Guardian



Employers are starting to take domestic violence seriously. In November, the federal government’s workplace gender equality agency released its 2015 gender equality scorecard (pdf). One of the findings that stands out was that employers are increasingly acknowledging their role in supporting employees experiencing domestic violence. Almost 35% of Australian organisations now have a domestic violence policy or strategy.

It’s high time. Australia is experiencing a domestic violence epidemic. In 2014 figures showed that a woman in Australia is more likely to be killed in her own home by her male partner than by anyone else. Research indicates intimate partner violence to be the leading preventable cause of death for women aged between 15 and 44. There are undoubtedly male victims, but domestic violence is overwhelming experienced by women.

Fortunately where it was once considered a private matter, advocates like Rosie Batty have worked tirelessly to shatter this silence and momentum appears to be mounting to force domestic violence out into the open and fundamentally change community attitudes. The solutions are complex and everyone in the community has a role to play, but employers must consider their own contribution and how they can support and assist employees suffering at the hands of the perpetrators of domestic violence. They must also consider their responsibilities when it comes to the perpetrators who may also be their employees.

Perpetrators often make it difficult for victims to attend work, sometimes through abusive phone calls and emails. Perpetrators can try to locate victims at their workplace, which poses safety and liability issues, and colleagues can also be targeted. Protecting the safety and job security of victims and other staff must be a vital first step for employers.

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http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2015/dec/23/its-time-for-employers-to-back-domestic-violence-victims-and-stand-up-to-abusers

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