This month marks 3 years since WorkHaven officially launched. I am very proud to be the founder and CEO of this organisation, and as I reflect on those early days, it feels like yesterday and forever at the same time.

WorkHaven was “born” in mid-2020 at the height of the pandemic. And whilst this might seem like a strange time to launch a business, our services and messaging didn’t appear out of nowhere – they had been planned and researched for the 3 years leading up to the launch.
To be honest, as with many things in life, the timing was somewhat unplanned. I thought we would need to hold off starting the business until COVID disappeared, and I felt frustrated and crestfallen at the impending delays. But then, my circumstances changed, I was made redundant from my role, and so I welcomed my golden handshake, took a deep breath and a giant leap of faith, and WorkHaven set sail.

In the ensuing 36 months, WorkHaven has supported organisations across the corporate, community and government sectors to deliver relevant and meaningful approaches to support our heartfelt purpose – to drive much-needed change to reduce the incidence and impact of Domestic and Family Violence. To date, our prevention, support and awareness resources and activities have been accessible to over 90,000 Australians, and we are ready to scale to reach many more. Our team has grown and we have recently added to our services to support organisations address sexual harassment in the workplace as well as DFV.

And seeing that evolution on a large scale is incredible. But what really but what really drives the WorkHaven team is the smaller things – the one-on-one interactions or hearing about the positive impacts on an individual. For example, the employee who walked away from our training understanding more about DFV and was able to lean in and have a sensitive conversation with a co-worker, who then felt safe to disclose disclose they were experiencing DFV. They worked together to enable that person to find and receive the assistance they needed to be safe and supported.

Or the person who felt shame because of the way they were treating their family but didn’t know what to do to make a change, but then felt empowered to reach out for support to address their behaviour.

Or the employee who left a violent relationship last year and has been living in a “holding pattern” ever since, hamstrung by their resulting lack of confidence and direction, is now able to take steps to move forwards and reclaim their life by participating in our Fresh Start For Me program.

These are the reasons WorkHaven exists and will continue to grow, and these are the reasons we invite you to become a part of our work. As an individual, you can contribute the stand against DFV. As an organisation, you can drive an even bigger shift.

We remain committed to our cause, which came from my  lived experience and the lived and living experience of others. I lived in a domestic violence situation for five years. As the violence escalated, I turned to my workplace for support. Sadly, there were no mechanisms in place to provide this much-needed assistance and no understanding of DFV within the organisation. In fact, this lack of awareness made my situation even more difficult. As a result, I left my executive position and, along with many other elements of my life, my career came to a grinding halt. In hindsight, I know things could have been very different had my employer leant in with empathy and support. In fact that insight and experience fuels much of the work we do today.

As I look in the rearview mirror, I feel proud of our achievements and traction to date. However, I am also painfully aware of the work yet to be done. To date this year, 43 people in Australia have lost their lives to domestic and family violence. The Queensland Police Service has recently released figures to reflect an increase in DFV incidents, and many specialist services are struggling to keep up with demand. 1 in 6 women in the workforce are impacted by DFV during their life, and a recent study by Monash University has revealed that 84% of these women are struggling to do their job as a result. Considering these statistics, we need to acknowledge the inroads gained, but also understand that we are in the midst of a long journey of change.

When looking at DFV statistics, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, perhaps even think “What’s the point? What can I do to make a difference?”, but you can. Every single one of us can lean in and make a difference, both large and small. Each of us can play a part in this complex, prevalent and sensitive issue, whether that’s delivering empowering education to enable awareness and prevention, supporting people who are facing danger and crisis, or walking alongside victims on their path to becoming a survivor.

WorkHaven understands the important role of the workplace and the broader community in the stand against DFV. Our aim is to support organisations, communities and individuals on the right path by:
• developing resources to enable workplaces and communities to deliver the right support to people affected and those concerned about their behaviour,
• delivering engaging training to enable people to better understand DFV and the role they can play to prevent and guide people to support,
• spreading the word through effective and meaningful communications and
• providing a program for people who have emerged from DFV to help them rebuild and move forwards positively.

Like all organisations, from time to time we face challenges. As a small business, there have been a couple of obstacles and learning curves along the way. But regardless of the challenges, busyness and occasional curveballs, every single day is a privilege. Every day, we meet and work with incredible organisations who want to contribute to awareness and understanding about DFV and provide the right support to their people. Each week, we hear about clever new ideas to address violence and we find inspiration from those people, organisations and initiatives that are making positive and tangible change. And we invite you to become a part of that change. Together, we can truly make a difference.
For more information about WorkHaven and how we can make a difference to your organisation or community, please reach out to [email protected] or call 07 3315 6635.