Westpac's anti-domestic violence efforts lauded

Bank trains employees to help abuse victims, and offers dedicated paid leave days

Westpac's anti-domestic violence efforts lauded
Westpac has been awarded the first DVFREE Tick from Shine, a leading anti-domestic violence organisation.

The DVFREE Tick recognised the bank’s comprehensive domestic violence programme that offers a safe and supportive workplace for employees experiencing abuse from their partners or family members.

Both men and women can be affected by domestic violence even as one in three women in New Zealand experience physical or sexual assault within their lifetime.

“Realising that domestic violence is actually a workplace issue was a revelatory moment for me,” said Westpac NZ Chief Executive David McLean.

“As a large employer, knowing that some of our staff members are suffering abuse from a partner or family member obliges us to do something to help them out of these intensely difficult situations.”

Westpac NZ, with a 4,500-strong workforce, 62 percent of which are women, is training its employees to help victims of violence.

It provides workshops for managers and in-depth training for “first responders”, and offers five days of paid leave to employees affected by domestic violence.

The DVFREE Tick is a new solution to one of New Zealand’s most important social issues,” says Holly Carrington, Communications Manager at Shine.

“Imagine if all New Zealand businesses had the DVFREE Tick – more than half a million businesses employing more than two million people. That would be an important signal to all New Zealanders that family violence is unacceptable and support is available.”

To be awarded the DVFREE Tick would typically require three- to six-months of focused effort for a large employer.

Criteria include:

  1. Creating a pathway for employees experiencing domestic violence, so they know how to get help within their organisation and in the community;

  1. Raising the level of awareness about domestic violence throughout the organisation to dispel common victim blaming attitudes;

  1. Making sure that all staff know what to do if they know or suspect that someone on staff is experiencing or perpetrating domestic violence;

  2. Making sure domestic violence is not tolerated or excused and being prepared to respond appropriately.

"We would encourage other businesses to take steps to make their workplaces domestic violence-free,” added McLean.

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