A spike in domestic violence is expected around Christmas as frustrations and disappointments mix with alcohol to provide the perfect cocktail for an unhappy festive season. The data is based on previous year’s crime statistics across NSW that has shown an increase in violent crime occurs early on Christmas morning and again on New Year’s eve – a trend also seen across Australia.
“It happens when households under financial or social stress get together and drink a lot of alcohol,” NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research director Don Weatherburn
“and when you mix stress with alcohol you get violence.”
But police are still battling the perception that domestic violence is a private family issue when really the whole community needs to get involved.
NSW police assistant commissioner Mark Jones said behavioural changes in family, friends, colleagues and concerns about some one in their neighbourhood are clear signs people need to call the police.
According to UN Women Australia who released their report earlier this month, ‘Taking the first step – workplace responses to domestic and family violence,” domestic and family violence can have a profound impact on the victim at work. Often times people are experiencing violence at home are not immune to that violence when at the workplace. People using violence may actively target the survivor in the workplace in the following ways:
- Email and phone call harassment, or appearing at the workplace
- Trying to force the survivor to resign or get them fired
- Trying to control the survivor by making them financially dependent, by undermining their confidence or punish them for trying to leave the abusive relationship.
The 16 Days of Activism to End Gender-Based Violence wrapped up officially on 10 December, but the commitment of countless Australian workplaces, large and small, across diverse industries, to support survivors of violence and stop violence before it starts, will carry on. Even during the holiday season when employees can often be most at risk.
To those who are actively supporting employees impacted by Domestic and Family Abuse and Violence over the Christmas and holiday season demonstrate the true spirit of working to end this scourge on society. Out of sight is never out of mind for those truly committed to ending domestic and family violence.
UN Women interviewed thirteen organisations to form the latest report chronicling Australian workplaces’ world-leading response to gender-based violence, Taking the first step: Workplace responses to domestic and family violence, by UN Women National Committee Australia.
Violence against women is one of the most serious, life threatening and widespread violations of human rights globally. In Australia, 40.8% of women have experienced some form of violence since the age of 15. Of those Australian women experiencing domestic and family violence, two-thirds of them are employed.
Violence against women carries with it significant costs, to individuals, businesses and societies. It results in loss of income and increased costs for women who experience violence, due to the cost of accessing services and days off work. For businesses, research has found significant costs in terms of decreased productivity due to violence against women, both in and outside of the workplace. It is estimated that domestic and family violence will cost Australian businesses $609 million annually by 2021.
“For women working out of the home, who are experiencing violence at home, a job may provide one of the only escapes from abuse,” states Janelle Weissman, Executive Director, UN Women National Committee Australia. “Workplaces with policies in place to protect and support their employees experiencing violence can provide a vital lifeline to safety. And Australian organisations are leading the globe in their recognition of violence as a workplace issue, and their comprehensive response to keep people safe.”
With interviews, links to practical policies and templates, candid stories from organisations about what works and doesn’t, the report offers guidance to any organization that wants to take the first step to tackle domestic and family violence. Several community and customer-facing initiatives are featured, from Telstra to Commonwealth Bank, Rio Tinto to Mirvac.
“We must remember that violence against women is entirely preventable. Every organisation has a role to play to support its people who are experiencing domestic and family violence, and create a culture that does not tolerate violence or discrimination and actively promotes gender equality, to address the root cause of violence. Every change starts with a single step. We hope this report offers practical guidance and inspiration for people leaders and organisations willing to make change by taking a stand against violence,” says Janelle Weissman.
Taking the first step: Workplace responses to domestic and family violence – you can download the report here.
. Included in the report are excellent case studies from companies leading the way to support victims and indeed to step up to the table and are making this a workplace issue that they are committed to addressing.
Well done to Aurizon, Australia Post, Australian Public Service, Autopia, Carlton Football Club, Commonwealth Bank, Housing Plus, Konica Minolta, Mirvac Group, PwC Australia, Queensland Government, Rio Tinto, Telstra.
 Australian Bureau of Statistics (2013). Personal Safety, Australia, 2012, Cat 4906.0. Available from: http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/4906.0
 The National Council to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children (2009). The Cost of Violence against Women and their Children. KPMG.