Domestic and Family Violence Work AwareWhen Domestic and Family Violence comes to Work
About DV Work Aware
DV Work Aware is a program of the National Working Women’s Centres that has been developed to raise awareness and promote best practice responses to issues of domestic and family violence (DFV) in the workplace. The key objectives of the program are:
- To increase knowledge and awareness of DFV as a workplace issue
- To support employees affected by DFV and enhance the capacity of workplaces to respond to issues of DFV that impact at work
- To encourage informed actions by workplaces in responding to DFV by providing free and easy to understand resources for diverse groups as well as to provide accessible consultancy and training services to support management and employees to take actions toward the prevention of DFV.
What is Domestic and Family Violence?
Domestic and Family Violence (DFV) is a pattern of abusive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship where the person who uses the violence is motivated by a desire to dominate, control or oppress the other person in a way that causes fear. DFV can take many different forms including intimidation, coercion or isolation, emotional, physical, sexual, financial and spiritual abuse. DFV can happen to anyone and occurs in all socio-economic and cultural settings.
DFV usualy increases over time, becoming more serious and more frequent. It harms not only those who are targets of the abuse but others including children who witness the abuse. If someone is fearful or feels scared of a partner, ex-partner or a family member they may be experiencing DFV.
On average one almost one third to one fith of Australian women will experience DFV in their lifetime, and while men also experience DFV women are more likely to be seriously injured and subjected to ongoing assaults than men. DFV remains significantly under reported to relevant authorities. People experiencing DFV are often isolated due to shame and fear and may be reluctant to ask for help.
Two thirds of women experiencing DFV are in paid employment and maintaining employment is important for economic independence to be able to address the violence. However sometimes the violence can continue at work creating safety risks not only to the victim but also to co-workers. Creating opportunities for workers to be more comfortable discussing DFV can help prevent it from entering a workplace and in dealing with it if it does.
Increasingly workplaces are getting on board about the important things they can do to support workers and to help prevent DFV. Employers, supervisors, managers, unions and co-workers as well as workplace health and safety representatives can all play a role. DFV is a complex issue with the potential for serious harm and sometimes death so not overlooking risk factors is important for safety and risk management in workplaces. It is important that responses in the workplace are based on best practice for both prevention and harm minimisation.
For more information or support about DFV, visit 1800 RESPECT or download the DAISY App, Local Services Locator here. See more State specific service information at the bottom of this page. CLICK ON THE PICTURE BOXES BELOW AND FIND THE TRANSLATE BUTTON IN THE BOTTOM RIGHT CORNER.
For further assistance also see our Resources page.
In an emergency situation telephone the police by dialing 000
Domestic and Family Violence is a Workplace Issue
The effects of DFV can have a significant impact nor only on employees well being and safety but on their workplaces, affecting the economic strength of the organisation.
Abuse at home can have a detrimental effect on work performance through stress, absenteeism, distraction and by invasion of the abuse into the workplace.
The effects on the individual can be physical and mental and may include injury, exhaustion and depression, post traumatic stress and suicide attempts.
Co-workers can be drawn in to cover for the victim or may experience trauma from indirect exposure. People who use DFV are also employed in our workplaces who must be prepared to respond to the concerns that will arise from this identification.
For some employees work can be a safe haven and a route to safety if they can access support services away from the view of the person using the violence.
A safer and supportive work environment for employees assists to manage workplace health and safety responsibilities as well as assisting those employees who are experiencing or perpetrating the abuse to seek support.
Without a job and a source of income, those experiencing DFV are less likely to find a way of escaping or addressing the abusive relationship.
Without the link to the workplace and supportive colleagues, those suffering DFV are more isolated and therefore more vulnerable.
Without intervention DFV tends to get worse over time and rarely goes away on its own.
Workplaces can embark on this journey by raising awareness and developing policies and practices on how to respond appropriately to disclosures of DFV. The training of key personnel is a key aspect of an overall workplace response.
Australia is now leading the way internationally with over two million workers entitled to access paid DFV leave and workplaces preparing themselves to address the risks and support thier staff by implementing policies and strategies to prevent DFV as part of a broader community response.
The key message is for workplaces to recognise that employees sometimes face DFV in their personal lives and that this can impact upon attendance and performance at work.
Employees can be supported to keep their jobs and address the DFV when workplaces respond with support and confidentiality, maximise safety and refer to appropriate DFV support services.
It also provides information and referrals to appropriate services for work colleagues and managers when someone who identifies as gender, sex or sexuality diverse discloses an experience of abuse or violence in their relationship or family.
Having an effective response to DFV in the workplace that provides support for people experiencing the violence can mean the difference between staying in an abusive situation or taking action to address it.
For those experiencing DFV, maintaining paid employment and access to money is vital to providing choices to address their situation and break the cycle of DFV. If you or someone in your workplace is affected by DFV and you are a union member, your union may be able to help in various ways including with information about your workplace rights particular to your situation.
As an employee if you are worried about raising the issue of DFV at work - it's best to get expert advice about talking to your employer first.
DVWA is inclusive of all genders. DV is non gendered but this resource has been developed with women in mind and in accordance with the objectives of the Working Women’s Centres. Everyone is welcome to use this resource and contact us.