The 16 Days of Activism to End Gender-Based Violence may wrap up officially on 10 December, but the commitment of countless Australian workplaces, large and small, across diverse industries, to support survivors of violence and stop violence before it starts, will carry on.
Interviews with thirteen organisations form the latest report chronicling Australian workplaces' world-leading response to gender-based violence, Taking the first step: Workplace responses to domestic and family violence, by UN Women National Committee Australia.
Violence against women is one of the most serious, life threatening and widespread violations of human rights globally. In Australia, 40.8% of women have experienced some form of violence since the age of 15. Of those Australian women experiencing domestic and family violence, two-thirds of them are employed.
Violence against women carries with it significant costs, to individuals, businesses and societies. It results in loss of income and increased costs for women who experience violence, due to the cost of accessing services and days off work. For businesses, research has found significant costs in terms of decreased productivity due to violence against women, both in and outside of the workplace. It is estimated that domestic and family violence will cost Australian businesses $609 million annually by 2021.
"For women working out of the home, who are experiencing violence at home, a job may provide one of the only escapes from abuse," states Janelle Weissman, Executive Director, UN Women National Committee Australia. "Workplaces with policies in place to protect and support their employees experiencing violence can provide a vital lifeline to safety. And Australian organisations are leading the globe in their recognition of violence as a workplace issue, and their comprehensive response to keep people safe. These are stories we want to share not only within our country, but across the region and around the world to spur action throughout the 16 Days of Activism to End Gender-Based Violence and beyond."
Today, UN Women National Committee Australia, joined by representatives from business, government and the community sector will launch a new report, Taking the first step: Workplace responses to domestic and family violence at an event hosted by Commonwealth Bank. With interviews, links to practical policies and templates, candid stories from organisations about what works and doesn't, the report offers guidance to any organization that wants to take the first step to tackle domestic and family violence. Several community and customer-facing initiatives are featured, from Telstra to Commonwealth Bank, Rio Tinto to Mirvac.
"We must remember that violence against women is entirely preventable. Every organisation has a role to play to support its people who are experiencing domestic and family violence, and create a culture that does not tolerate violence or discrimination and actively promotes gender equality, to address the root cause of violence. Every change starts with a single step. We hope this report offers practical guidance and inspiration for people leaders and organisations willing to make change by taking a stand against violence," says Janelle Weissman.