Compulsory training for SA public servants to reduce violence against women

By Stephen Easton

Wednesday November 27, 2019

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The South Australian government says it is “taking bold steps to eliminate violence against women” through new gender equality action plans across the public service.

As part of the Workplace Equality and Respect Project, led by the state’s Equal Opportunity Commission, 24 plans are being rolled out in agencies employing over 100,000 people.

Dr Niki Vincent. Image: Twitter.

The plans set out how agencies plan to encourage gender equality and support people experiencing domestic, family, and sexual violence.

They were announced on United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women by Michelle Lensink, the Minister for Human Services, and Carolyn Power, the Assistant Minister for Domestic and Family Violence Prevention.

The ministers say some agencies plan to run “compulsory staff training on men’s violence against women” while others will send staff to more general “domestic and family violence training and events and forums on gender equality” delivered face-to-face.

“Each department’s plan is specific to its staff, with actions promoting equal participation in the workforce, respectful relationships between genders and the breaking down of stereotypes,” they said in a joint statement.

Other actions include participating in events like White Ribbon Day and increasing awareness of existing support mechanisms, policies, and procedures related to staff who experience violence — including the 15 days of paid domestic and family violence leave they can access.

“Simple things like staff training and increasing awareness about this whole of community issue will go a long way changing attitudes and ending violence once and for all,” said Lensink.

Commissioner for Equal Opportunity Dr Niki Vincent is confident that cultural change will be achieved in agencies and says the public sector has an important role to play in influencing wider social change.

“Work is a place where people come together and have their attitudes either supported or challenged,” she said.

“This includes jokes, which may seem harmless, but can contribute to a culture that condones violence against women. If we have clear actions and direction that sexism, discrimination and violence is completely unacceptable — cultural change will follow.

“Workplace gender equality is achieved when people are able to access and enjoy the same rewards, resources and opportunities and are afforded the same value and respect — regardless of gender.”

Lensink said violence against women was “significant, prevalent and preventable” and expressed pride in the public service for playing its part.

“We will continue having this conversation until we eliminate all violence against women,” she added.

Power said all forms of violence were unacceptable. “Together, we can all contribute to a South Australia where women and their children can feel safe at home, in the workplace and on the streets.”

READ MORE: From government policy to algorithms to medical research focus — where are the women?


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