Our Story So Far
What is Gendered Violence?
Gendered violence is an expression of power and control over individuals or groups because of their gender. It's a broad term that encompasses domestic, family and sexual violence, and includes sexual harassment, sexual assault, stalking, intimate partner violence, and violence among household members, extended families and kinships. Gender-related violence, gender-based violence (GBV), sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and violence against women (VAW) are other commonly used terms in this field. More recently, terms such as gendered misconduct and sexual misconduct have also been used.
However, while it’s clear that women and children are disproportionately affected, we use ‘gendered violence’ with the acknowledgement that men, women, elders and youth can be victims and perpetrators. In addition, we acknowledge that gendered violence can be experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people. Gendered violence is not limited to physical or sexual violence. It can include a range of behaviours used to intimidate, coerce, harass and control another person, including financial abuse.
“The Gendered Violence & Organisations team were approached by Western Sydney University to provide Trauma Informed Response Training for the Counselling Service in 2017. The team worked closely with us to create informed, best practice training that was flexible and tailored for our service needs. The two-day training utilised excellent materials and generated extremely beneficial conversations for our service. The workshop was well received and exceptionally well delivered.”
- Dr Nicole Church | Psychologist, Counselling Service, Western Sydney University
Employees experiencing domestic, family and sexual violence are particularly vulnerable in relation to work due to the predictability of their location and hours. Moreover, the strain of dealing with the abuse may impact an employee’s productivity, performance and wellbeing. Research conducted in 2011 found that 19% of Australian workers who had experienced domestic violence in the previous 12 months reported the harassment continued at their workplace. The primary form of abuse involved receiving threatening phone calls and emails, and over 11% of respondents who had experienced domestic violence reported that the perpetrator had physically come to their workplace.
The perpetrator may also harass and threaten other employees, placing these workers at risk. This is especially the case for workers who are the first point of contact in a business, or for those working directly with colleagues who are experiencing abuse. In addition, employees who support affected co-workers may find that doing so affects their own productivity due to stress and greater workloads.
Why Should Employers Address the Effects of Gendered Violence on Their Employees & Organisations?
There are multiple benefits for employers who proactively and effectively address the effects of domestic, family and sexual violence on the organisation:
- Reduces costs and increases savings
- Helps to fulfil employers’ duty of care
- Improves staff health, safety and wellbeing
- Economic independence is key to leaving an abusive relationship
- Demonstrates corporate social responsibility
- Positions the organisation as an employer of choice
Employers can reduce costs and increase savings by providing supports to employees who are victims so that they can maintain their employment, thereby improving long-term productivity, safeguarding institutional knowledge and offsetting potential termination, recruitment and retraining expenses. Further, organisations which appropriately manage employees who are perpetrators of domestic, family and sexual violence will reduce the risk of vicarious liability and reputational damage – particularly if these employees are perpetrating violence on work premises, using work resources or during paid work time.
Employers will be fulfilling their duty of care to employees, contractors and clients by providing a safe organisation where foreseeable risks are removed or mitigated. This, in turn, could reduce insurance premiums and other security costs and will enhance the health, safety and wellbeing of all staff.
Research has identified maintaining employment, and therefore economic independence, is a key factor in assisting someone to leave a violent relationship without risking homelessness for themselves and their children.
Taking a stand against and responding to domestic, family and sexual violence will also demonstrate commitment to the organisation’s stated values and corporate social responsibility charters. This will enhance your reputation both within their workforce and the wider community. Since 2016 Australia’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency has required employers to report if they have formal policies or strategies to support workers who are experiencing domestic and family violence in order for the organisation to be considered for an Employer of Choice.
Gendered Violence & Organisations training workshop evaluations reveal many staff are proud to work for an organisation that takes the issue of domestic, family and sexual violence seriously and that they appreciate the opportunity to learn more about the issue and develop skills to assist their colleagues, if needed.
Leadership, Communication, Policy, Procedures, Training & Evaluation
Businesses and organisations can create an environment where people know it is safe to disclose if they are affected by domestic, family and/or sexual violence. People can be affected as a victim, a perpetrator, and as a supportive family member or colleague.
A supportive organisational environment is established by:
- Leadership from the top that clearly states domestic, family and sexual violence is not appropriate and will not be tolerated in the organisation
- The development and implementation of policies and procedures to support people (e.g., employees, volunteers, customers) who disclose they are affected by domestic, family and sexual violence
- The training of first responders who will be able to sensitively respond to requests for information and disclosures
- Providing for reasonable and appropriate accommodations or adjustments to allow people affected to remain safe and productive while at work or in the organisation
- Regular review of policies, procedures and safety/workload plans
- Support for first responders
- Effective dissemination of domestic, family and sexual violence policies and procedures within the organisation