I am committed to standing up and speaking out about the serious issue of domestic and family violence. It is up to all of us to bring this issue out from behind closed doors and into our conversations where together, we can address this as the serious community and workplace issue that it is.
And it is serious.
We know that one in four women across Australia experience this violence during their lives, and the impact on women and our children’s long term health and wellbeing, and on our community as a whole, is profound.
I want to acknowledge the strength and courage of the people who experience this violence, and the stark reality that they are disproportionately women.
The prevalence of this violence means that in our workplaces right across Australia, including my own organisation, significant numbers of people are impacted by this violence, every day. Today.
Domestic and family violence is a workplace issue because our workplaces are often the only place that a person experiencing this violence will feel safe and be safe all day. Work may also be the only place where people can safely access the confidential and vital support they need.
We know that violence against women is more likely to happen where there is gender inequality. This is an important part of the reason why I am focussed on creating an inclusive and gender equitable culture at DELWP.
Together, we can be part of changing the story of domestic and family violence.
We can do this by building a safe, inclusive and equitable culture in our workplaces, and having respectful conversations and relationships at work, in our homes and across the community.
It is up to all of us to recognise domestic and family violence as a workplace issue as much as it is a broader community issue and take positive action to bring this issue out from behind closed doors.
We can do this by supporting our colleagues, asking if they are okay and encouraging them to seek help and support early.
At DELWP, we have confidential support available for people experiencing family and domestic violence. This includes trained Family Violence Contact Officers who assist our employees to access the support services they need. DELWP and all Victorian Public Service employees can also access up to 20 days paid leave, in a discreet and confidential way.
Everyone who comes to work should feel safe and be supported to bring their whole selves to work and to access confidential assistance.
I am committed to changing the story about domestic and family violence and being part of Victoria Against Violence 16 Days of Activism campaign.
I encourage you to join this important conversation about creating a culture of equal and respectful relationships between men and women.
We are all in this together. Let’s change this story.
If you or someone you know needs support, please seek help early by calling 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au.
Victorian Government employees can also access support through the Employee Assistance Program.
The Men’s Referral Service on 1300 766 491 provides anonymous and confidential telephone counselling, information and referrals to men to help them to take action to stop using violent and controlling behaviour.
Adam Fennessy is secretary of the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and Victorian Male Champion of Change.