Domestic violence (sometimes called ‘family violence’) can take many different forms including intimidation, coercion or isolation, emotional, physical, sexual, financial and spiritual abuse.
Domestic violence is pervasive in all Australian communities, extending across cultural, ethnic and socioeconomic groups.
According to VicHealth, Domestic violence is the leading preventable cause of death, injury and illness for Australian women under 45 years, a higher health risk for women in this age group than smoking and obesity, and can have long- term impacts on victims’ health and wellbeing.
According to the ABS, over sixty percent of victims of domestic violence are in paid work and violence has a damaging, yet often hidden, impact on victims’ working lives.
The 2011 "Safe at Home, Safe at Work? National Domestic Violence and the Workplace Survey", conducted by Australian Domestic and Family Violence Clearing house found that thirty percent of 3,611 respondent workers had experienced some form of domestic violence over the course of their lifetime.
Of the respondents who had experienced domestic violence, nearly half reported that it had affected their capacity to get to work.
Nineteen percent of respondents who had experienced domestic violence reported that the violence had impacted on them in the workplace: abusive calls and emails and the abusive person attending the workplace were the most common form of abuse experienced.
The impacts on workers included feeling distracted, tired or unwell, having to take time off and being late to work.
In many instances, the abusive person targets the victim at work or their capacity to get to work in order to force them to resign or abandon their job, or get them fired or disciplined. Once the victim loses their job, it can be difficult - if not impossible, to leave the violent relationship: without an independent income source, the victim is unlikely to have the means to pay rent or mortgage repayments and other necessary expenses.
Women who are victims of domestic violence have more disrupted work histories, on average have lower personal incomes, have had to change jobs frequently and are more likely to be employed in casual and part time work than women with no experience of violence.
Income security and employment are identified as a key structural supports to women leaving violence relationships.
Sign the petition.
Ask our Prime Minister, the The Hon. Julia Gillard MP, to ensure that all workers in Australia who experience domestic violence can be safe at work as staying in employment is critical to reducing the effects of the violence. By supporting women and men to remain in paid employment, workplaces can assist women and men on their pathway out of violence and keep the whole workplace safer.
Ask the Prime Minister to ensure that workers in Australia who experience domestic violence be protected in the workplace by:
1. amending the Fair Work Act to include domestic and family violence protections as a National Employment Standard
2. ensuring that a consolidated Commonwealth equality law prohibit discrimination on the ground of domestic and family violence.
For more information see www.dvandwork.unsw.edu.au