Workplace Training in Domestic Violence Awareness & Response
AVAILABLE DURING COVID-19, via Zoom.
Workplace Training in domestic and family violence awareness and response is relevant to support the safety of community members and employees. In many instances, for people who are experiencing violence, the workplace might be the only place that individual feels safe. This feeling of safety could potentially result in a disclosure of an experience to a colleague, Manager or Human Resources Officer. It is important that the person they disclose to is trained appropriately to act in a way that is non-judgemental and is supportive of immediate safety without reacting in a manner that can make the person feel alienated, or puts them at further risk through well intended but harmful responses and actions. This is where DVConnect can help your organisation. DVConnect tailors training packages in domestic and violence to suit your workplace’s needs and requirements.
Training can be specific to the role of Managers/Supervisors/HR Officers who supervise staff members and have some responsibility for the wellbeing and safety of employees, with the following key areas of learning:
- How you can recognise and respond appropriately to employees, colleagues or clients who may be showing signs of domestic and family violence.
- How you can respond appropriately and safely to employees, colleagues or clients who disclose that they are experiencing domestic and family violence or perpetrating domestic and family violence.
- How you can refer employees, colleagues or clients to appropriate supports available and assist in supporting safer communities.
DVConnect also commonly develops training packages specific to the needs of the organisation contacting us, and is experienced in facilitating education awareness sessions from an employee perspective working with colleagues or clients who might disclose their experience of violence to them. We have worked with Banks, Financial Institutions, Local Councils, Unions, Education providers and Health Practitioners to develop and deliver training suitable for Managers as well as customer facing employees. For more information, please contact
Why is domestic and family violence a workplace issue?
Although domestic and family violence may be happening outside of work hours and not inside your workplace, those living with violence in their home can suffer in a variety of other areas in their life. Often, real costs and negative impacts of their home life flow into the workplace.
Workplace costs – Within the population of women who have experienced violence, or are currently experiencing violence, the Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates that between 55% and 70% are currently in the workforce – that is, approximately 800,000 women, or around one in six female workers. This means that a significant number of Australian workplaces will be impacted by women’s experiences of domestic and family violence. Some common costs and impacts include decreased staff performance and productivity and increased staff turnover and absenteeism.
Impacts on employees – Research into the workplace implications of domestic and family violence has demonstrated how such violence can undermine the working lives of both victims and survivors. The 2011 National Domestic Violence and the Workplace Survey found that nearly half (48%) of respondents who reported experiencing domestic and family violence said the violence had affected their ability to get to work. The main impact of violence was on work performance – 16% of victims and survivors reported being distracted, tired or unwell and 10% needed to take time off work. Further, women who experience domestic and family violence are also more likely to have lower personal incomes, a disrupted work history, often have to change jobs at short notice and are very often employed in casual or part time work.
Domestic and family violence perpetrated in the workplace – The perpetrator of violence may go so far as to target the victim or survivor at their place of work. This could occur via email, phone or by physically showing up in an attempt to get the person experiencing the violence terminated or force them to resign. This can an attempt by the person using violence to increase the victim/survivor’s economic dependency, undermining their self-confidence – or in order to punish them for attempting to leave the violent relationship.
What can workplaces do?
Workplaces have the opportunity to provide disclosure safe environments to their employees and demonstrate commitment to ending violence and promoting safe communities for all through championing change, challenging gender stereotypes, and participating in education awareness sessions. This can result in strong benefits for the employer, including higher retention rates, higher staff morale, and higher health outcomes for their employees.
The role of leaders
Champion positive change and start a conversation about domestic and family violence – one where employers send a clear message to their employees that indicates:
- Domestic and family violence is an issue that affects the workplace.
- Those experiencing it are not alone.
- Employees can feel confident that disclosing a violent situation to their manager will not result in negative consequences for them or their employment.
- Bystanders should stand up against domestic and family violence in the workplace.
Establish clear policies and procedures
- Develop a policy about supporting victims and survivors of domestic and family violence.
- Develop policies for safe work places, free from harassment and bullying, which also deal with employees who perpetrate violence in the workplace.
- Ensure these policies and procedures are clearly articulated to staff and that employees are encouraged to make use of them.
- Use the Domestic Violence Policies and Procedures guide created by the Australian Human Rights Commission.
- Ensure staff (in particular Managers) receive adequate training in responding to domestic and family violence.
Make provision for leave or flexible work arrangements
- In their enterprise agreements or awards, workplaces can provide dedicated paid leave for those experiencing domestic and family violence. As of 2013, over one million Australian workers are able to avail themselves of leave and other protections made available through domestic and family violence clauses in their agreement or award conditions.
- Offer flexible work arrangements, as provided for under the Fair Work Act.
Establish clear roles and responsibilities and build capacity
- Clearly articulate the roles and responsibilities of line managers and senior leadership in supporting victims and survivors and in dealing with perpetrators in the workplace.
- Ensure managers and those responsible for policy implementation and safety planning receive adequate training and support.
Implement an awareness-raising and education programs
- Ensure all employees understand of the impacts of domestic and family violence on individuals and on the workplace.
- Ensure employees are adequately trained on how to recognise signs that a colleague may be experiencing, or perpetrating domestic violence.
Ensure adequate support is provided for affected employees
- Discuss the short and longer term needs and requirements of the affected employee.
- If required, develop a safety plan. DVConnect can help with the intricacies with this if needed.
- Ensure ongoing communication and regularly check in with the affected employee.
- Respect privacy and confidentiality.
- Ensure employees are aware of appropriate support services. Eg: some Employee Assistance Programs have counsellors trained in domestic and family violence counselling.
Conduct safety planning with affected employees
- Ensure managers receive training in developing a safety plan for those experience violence.
- Use the Developing an Effective Safety Plan guide created by the Australian Human Rights Commission.
Provide referrals and external support
- Ensure those employees required to support others (eg. managers) are aware of the appropriate support and referral pathways for those who experience violence as well as for those who perpetrate violence, as well as support available for themselves.
- Use the Information and Referrals guide created by the Australian Human Rights Commission.
Encourage monitoring and reflection
- Ensure that you monitor and reflect on your progress after you’ve worked through the above actions.
- Utilise the Assessing Responses to workplace Domestic Violence Questionnaire created by the Australian Human Rights Commission.
- The Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 requires workplaces with more than 100 employees to report annually on whether the workplace has a formal workplace policy or strategy, or any other measures to support employees experiencing domestic and family violence.