40.8% of women from the age of 15 have experienced family or domestic violence.
Domestic violence is currently the leading cause of death, disability and physical/mental illness for Australian women between the ages of 15 and 44 years.
At least two-thirds of Australian women experiencing family or domestic are in the workforce.
The estimated cost to workplaces of domestic violence in 2002/3 was $8.1 billion. This could rise to $9.1 billion annually by 2021/2 if no action is taken by employers.
Family and domestic violence is a societal issue and it is a business issue. A comprehensive and effective people-centred response, therefore, must be multi-stakeholder and Australian businesses are leading the way.
A new report released by UN Women Australia, highlights the emerging best practice of 13 Australian company’s first-step response to family and domestic violence. Konica Minolta Australia is among the companies sharing both the successes and challenges of our efforts to embed a framework to support victims and offer assistance to perpetrators of domestic and family violence.
Legal, People and Culture Director, Suzie Brett describes how Konica Minolta’s policy was a collaborative effort, while being realistic about the now ongoing learning process. “External engagement with the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and the Women’s Legal Service of Queensland was key to developing the foundation of people-centric policies and processes. Now, as we experience our first cases, we are learning where we can strengthen our response and provide ongoing support to managers. Building a robust response will be an iterative approach.”
Sharing her story at the report launch, Kristy McKeller – survivor, advocate and consultant – described the victims journey as neither linear nor ever ending. Initially, an employee may only ever reach out once so how colleagues respond can be critical to the recovery process. She describes how the most devastating response is to “not believe, silence, and reinforcing victim-blaming language.” During the reintegration, Kristy says “the little things are the big things when someone is experiencing family or domestic violence.”
So what can you do? If you feel something is not right, if a colleague has been frequently absent, more withdrawn, increasingly distracted, or has a noticeable change in appearance or dress, don’t be afraid to be that friendly face that asks a few questions. Sometimes it is the small conversations, where victims feel safe and supported to disclose, that can catalyse change.
Violence against women is about power and control. It is preventable. As individuals, we can challenge the structures and norms that enable violence to go unchecked. As businesses, we can foster inclusive cultures and provide support mechanisms that create a safe space for women to seek help without fear of judgement or reprisal.
If you or someone you know has experienced family, domestic or sexual violence, phone the 24/7 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) number, or visit www.1800respect.org.au