Gendered Violence & Organisations

A knowledge translation project of the Gendered Violence Research Network (GVRN).

Services we offer

By translating research into practical solutions, we are able to :

Read through some of our client testimonials, or read more about the knowledge translation carried out in collaboration with UNSW Colleges as an example of our work.

What is gendered violence?

Gendered violence is an expression of power and control over individuals or groups because of their gender. It is 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 is clear that women and children are disproportionately affected, we use ‘gendered violence’ with the acknowledgment 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

How does domestic, family and sexual violence affect employees and organisations?

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 (PDF) [1 Mb] 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 domestic, family and sexual violence on their employees and 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.

How to ensure an appropriate Organisational Response

Leadership, Communication, Policy, Procedures, Training and 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.

About Gendered Violence & Organisations

Timeline

  • 2018

We have renamed our Gendered Violence & Work program the Gendered Violence & Organisations stream. We have expanded our services and now translate research about gendered violence into advisory and training services for organisations and employers wanting to address the effects of domestic, family and sexual violence for their key stakeholders including employees, boards, students, volunteers and customers. 

  • 2016-2017

We developed and delivered advisory and training services addressing organisational responses to both domestic and family violence, and sexual assault and harassment to organisations. These included corporations, government agencies, businesses, tertiary education institutions including residential colleges and not-for-profit organisations.

  • 2015

We launched the Gendered Violence & Work program as part of UNSW’s Gendered Violence Research Network (GVRN) with expanded advisory and training services for employers who want to address the effects of domestic, family and sexual violence on their employees and organisations.

  • 2014

We partnered with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, along with the Business Coalition For Women and Pacific Adventist University in Papua New Guinea (PNG) to address the effects of family and sexual violence (FSV) on the workplace in PNG.

This includes the development of culturally-appropriate, gender-sensitive and gender-equitable strategies for businesses. In 2014, we created PNG’s first ‘Model Policy on Family and Sexual Violence’ based on international good practice and participatory research in PNG. The current phase involves implementation support for local employers through research, training and advisory services, as well as building the capacity of local trainers.

  • 2013

We undertook pilot research with survivors of sexual violence in the Northern Territory, Australia to establish the effects of sexual violence on employees and their organisations.

  • 2013

We successfully advocated for changes to Australia’s Fair Work Act (2013) to provide all employees in the federal jurisdiction the right to request a change in work arrangements if they are: experiencing violence from a family member; or they need to provide care and support to a member of their immediate family/household as a result of domestic and family violence.

  • 2010–2013

We developed pioneering research, advisory and training services to help employers implement domestic and family violence supports for their employees and successfully advocated for the uptake of domestic and family violence provisions.

This was previously known as the ‘Safe at Home, Safe at Work’ program funded by the Commonwealth Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, and included research in the education and health sectors to establish the effects of domestic and family violence on employees and their organisations. The methodology and findings have since inspired similar research projects in Canada, New Zealand and the U.K.

Currently around 1.6 million Australian employees are covered by domestic and family violence clauses in their Enterprise Bargaining Agreements or Awards. The Northern Territory Government also has workplace supports to employees affected by sexual violence.

  • 2001

W reviewed literature examining the links between gendered violence and work as part of the Australian Domestic and Family Violence Clearinghouse publication series.

Contact us

Mailin Suchting

Manager
Gendered Violence Research Network, UNSW
Phone: +61 2 9385 2991
Email: m.suchting@unsw.edu.au

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Training and eLearning products 2018-19 (PDF) [162 Kb]