Council Fights Back Against Domestic Violence
Bass Coast Shire Council is responding to Victorian Police statistics that incidents of family violence in Bass Coast are higher than the State average and are increasing annually.
Council, as one of the biggest employers in the region, has registered to become a White Ribbon Workplace through the White Ribbon Australia Workplace Accreditation Program.
The Accreditation Program recognises that Australian workplaces can make a significant contribution to stopping violence against women.
Council’s General Manager Healthy Communities, David Elder, and General Manager Governance and Organisation Development, Mark Brady, are White Ribbon Ambassadors and are both keen for Council to be part of the Program.
“Workplace prevention and response initiatives are becoming increasingly important considering that violence – whether happening in a person’s private life or in the workplace – impacts on women’s health, safety, their productivity and capacity to do their work,” Mr Elder said.
“It may also impact negatively on the reputation of an organisation and its capacity to do business.”
Mr Elder and Mr Brady said Council was introducing the White Ribbon accreditation program into the workplace to raise awareness and educate staff in response to the high levels of domestic violence reported in Bass Coast.
“As one of the largest employers in the Shire, and our female employees making up 58 per cent of staff, this is a great opportunity to raise that awareness, and encourage staff to share that information with their family, friends and personal networks,” Mr Elder said.
“By becoming a White Ribbon Workplace, Council has the opportunity to further showcase a workplace committed to equity and respect, raising awareness of this important health and wellbeing issue.
“We’ll also be talking to other employers across Bass Coast and encouraging them to become a White Ribbon workplace too.”
Mr Brady said Council will now formally recognise and commit to addressing men’s violence against women, whether inside or outside the workplace and ‘walk the talk’ by introducing policies, procedures, leadership and training.
“Taking these measures will drive social change, refine support offered to employees who are victims of violence, commit our workplace to being one of equality and respect and directly address and mitigate risks of bullying,” Mr Brady said.
“White Ribbon states that two thirds of Australian women who report violence by a current partner are in paid employment, and becoming a White Ribbon workplace can improve office safety and morale, result in staff retention, and reduce costs associated with HR claims and staff absenteeism.”
The Accreditation Program takes 14 months to complete, and all employees will undertake training and education as part of the program.
Actions to prevent and raise awareness of family violence are outlined in the Bass Coast Municipal Public Health and Wellbeing Plan 2014/15 Action Plan.
Facts About Domestic Violence
- Victorian women aged 15 to 44 years, intimate partner violence is the leading cause of illness, death and disability. (VicHealth 2011) This is a greater contributor to the burden of disease than physical inactivity, unhealthy body weight, drug and alcohol related harm and tobacco use.
- It is recognised that the rates of violence against women are higher in rural areas. Women in these areas face barriers to receiving support to leave violent relationships safely. Issues impacting rural women include geographical isolation, a limited number of shelters, limited education and employment opportunities, difficulties in accessing justice, health, communications and other services. (Australian Human Rights Commission 2012)