Domestic and family violence (DFV) is a very complex topic and each situation is different – different people working in different environments in different personal circumstances with different impacts leading to different needs. It is important we consider this when forming a workplace response to DFV to ensure we offer flexibility in our approach and avoid an overly-rigid approach.
Over recent times, it has been great to see many businesses stepping up to understand DFV and support impacted employees. If your business is planning, implementing or reviewing your DFV guidelines, it is important to ensure the support provided is workable and meaningful, and a variety of options are provided to meet the diversity of need.
For example, DFV leave is helpful to those who need to attend court, go to related appointments, or need time away from work to leave their DFV situation. For others, the leave may pose a problem as it can lead to spending more time with the perpetrator or other complications.
And whilst Employee Assistant Program counselling (EAP) gives victims of DFV the opportunity to download and discuss their situation, specialist DFV counsellors with connections to support services are likely to be more effective and guide victims of DFV to safety.
There are many things a workplace can offer to support someone who is impacted by DFV to support their specific needs and situation. These may include:
- Flexible work arrangements to enable employees to balance their home situation and their work commitments.
- A designated go-to person at work to discuss their situation in confidence.
- Consideration of their workload to ease unnecessary stress as they navigate through the DFV situation.
- Safety assessment and relevant measures to ensure the person is not at risk on their way to or from or whilst at work.
- An empathic, non-judgemental and supportive culture that makes people feel comfortable to come forward and seek support if they are impacted by DFV.
- Communications activities to drive awareness, connection and understanding about DFV within the workplace.
- Training of leaders, HR teams and other relevant staff to ensure the business has the right knowledge, skills and resources to address DFV within the workplace.
- Ongoing check-ins with employees who are impacted by DFV to ensure they remain safe and supported.
- Financial support to enable them to leave their situation and establish a new place to live
- A loan mobile phone to enable them to stay connected with their loved ones
- The provision of a StandByU Shield to provide connection and safety (www.standbyu.org.au)
The key to supporting someone who is impacted by DFV is empowering them to decide what they need during this challenging time. Listen to their needs, provide options and let them make a decision on their preferred options.
And it’s important to remember that the workplace has legislated obligations in relation to DFV – these can be found at the Fair Work website. Check out www.fairwork.gov.au where you can find the Employer Guideline to Domestic and Family Violence.
If your organisation wants to commence, update or enhance your approach to DFV, WorkHaven can help with advice, guidance and practical support. For more information, please visit www.workhaven.com.au