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Does HR have a role in preventing domestic violence?

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HC Online | 20 Oct 2015, 08:52 AM Agree 0
HC speaks to an employment lawyer about steps HR can take to assist victims of family violence in their workforce.
  • Keith Wilkinson | 20 Oct 2015, 02:43 PM Agree 0
    This is a fundamental issue for every organisation and I think it is likely that most large companies will have a Domestic Violence policy in place before 2020.
    The article mentions a key issue in passing and doesn't elaborate on it - the employees who are perpetrators. The statistics tell us 1 in 3 women are the victims of domestic violence the flip side of this is that 1 in 3 men within the workforce are perpetrators. How do employers address this? How do we educate our employees that bullying is unacceptable in the workplace and in the home!
    We need to demonstrate that this behaviour is not acceptable, while at the same time enabling our employees to seek help where they are involved in this abuse
    The more we can do to air this topic and provide the right support to all involved the more we can do to change people's lives and create a better workplace for all
  • Kate Connellan | 21 Oct 2015, 11:42 AM Agree 0
    Another initiative some employers are using is to become White Ribbon accredited. It involves a survey to establish a baseline and work out attitudes in the workplace, and then a training program.
    I have mulled over whether these issues are not too dissimilar from bullying issues in the workplace. Workplaces have traditionally had a reactive/ compliance approach to these too - but surely there must be some sort of pro-active behavioural training/ upskilling that can be done with staff to assist. I have looked into resilience training, but the US Army rolled out a massive program on this and it has shown no significant results (though anecdotally it was very popular).

    http://workzenibytes.blogspot.com.au/
  • Bernie Althofer | 21 Oct 2015, 11:45 AM Agree 0
    Having been a Regional Domestic Violence Liaison Officer, and having completed a thesis looking at how senior managers responded to workplace violence e.g. bullying, domestic violence and unlawful discrimination (including sexual harassment), I would suggest that whilst some ground has been made in relation to education and awareness, there is still some way to go.

    Domestic violence is a 'touchy' subject for some who have ingrained beliefs about what is and what is acceptable. Any form of violence is unacceptable and there may be those who don't understand how the abuse of power and control works.

    Over the years, literature continues to show that workplace violence has wide spread implications, not only from the physical and psychological aspect, but also the financial aspect. Attitudes that previously viewed domestic violence as 'just a family matter' are changing. Proactive and supportive executives understand that the impact of domestic violence does in fact flow through to the workplace and beyond. Some organisations have been proactive in providing education and awareness about what is domestic violence and who may be involved. However, it some cases, it does appear that the aggrieved will still be in a position where they have no power and are subjected to further abuses as they struggle to survive.

    It is a concern talking to individuals about domestic violence and then finding that they view what is happening to them as 'normal' because they don't equate the behaviour or conduct with domestic violence. In addition, when one looks around at the changes in society regarding the use of various social media 'tools', and one sees how various behaviours are used as 'entertainment', one can also see how individuals are not treated with respect and dignity as power and control are abused, and individuals are subjected to degrading conduct.

    Organisations may be 'busy' generating a profit in delivering a service to customers. However, one must also pose the question about how their profitability will suffer if it is demonstrated that a domestic violence death occurred because they did not treat it seriously. It does take like minded people who are serious about preventing violence to stand shoulder to shoulder and to stand up and speak out.
  • Rah Harj | 23 Oct 2015, 09:12 AM Agree 0
    Since when is the employer responsible for what occurs in the family home? If the employer can not control events outside the workplace why should the employer be lumped with the cost of these events (be it domestic violence or otherwise). If you want the employer responsible then allow them to also instruct you on your out of work activities (ie. who you can date, the car you can drive, where you can live, how often you you should excercise, the sports you're allowed to play, etc.). With the myriad of policy to operate a business these days only the large multinationals and government departments have the resources (and money) to meet every compliance requirement.

    If the government wants the workplace to be an extension of home life then perhaps they should foot the bill for the initiatives they want implemented.
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