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Workplace responses to violence
Workplaces have been identified as key environments in which to undertake preventative action to reduce violence against women and to support women who are experiencing or escaping violence. Workplaces can play an effective and important role in supporting women to remain safe, stay in work and to access specialist support services.
Violence against women can have significant impacts on the workplace. Workplaces can be used as places for perpetrators to harass women and to locate their whereabouts. The perpetrator may also harass colleagues of victims.
It can affect an employee's work performance, cause poor physical and mental well-being, lead to time off work and in some cases can result in termination of employment.
Workplaces can be ideal places for promoting the prevention of violence against women. The National Plan to Prevent Violence Against Women and their Children recognises the value of including workplaces in prevention efforts (Commonwealth Government 2011), as does the Victorian Health Framework to Guide the Primary Prevention of Violence against Women in Victoria. Organisations are recognised in both of these strategies as settings through which social norms that support violence against women can be challenged, shaped and changed.
Domestic violence leave
From 1 July 2016 employees of the South Australian public sector are entitled to 15 days domestic violence leave. This additional special leave with pay allows people experiencing domestic violence to take time off work to address issues that may assist them in progressing towards a life free from violence and its effects. More information is available in the Domestic Violence Guideline from the Office of the Commissioner for the Public Sector.
Entitlements such as those provided to South Australian public servants ensure that victims of domestic violence remain financially secure and have time to attend court appearances, seek legal advice or make arrangements to move house.
Safe at Home, Safe at Work
The Australian Domestic and Family Violence Clearinghouse was commissioned by the Commonwealth Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations to undertake the Safe at Home, Safe at Work project. The Project seeks to inform Australian unions and employers about domestic violence issues for employees and to promote the introduction of domestic violence provisions in enterprise agreements using the new Fair Work framework.
Domestic violence workplace policy
In 2018, the Department for Human Services released an updated Domestic Violence Workplace Policy for employees. A copy of the Staff Guidelines can be accessed here: DHS Domestic Violence in the Workplace Policy - Staff Guidelines.
White Ribbon workplace accreditation
The White Ribbon Campaign in Australia is the national violence prevention campaign supported by individuals and organisations concerned with raising awareness about and ending violence against women. The White Ribbon Workplace Program aims to support workplaces to prevent and respond to violence against women. The Program calls upon organisations to take steps to promote safe workplaces for women by adapting organisational culture, practices and procedures. The Program is funded by the Australian Government Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs for a term of four years. Information about the program is available on the White Ribbon website.
The Department of Human Services was the first State Government department to achieve White Ribbon accreditation in 2014. All other South Australian Government departments were accredited in 2016.