Domestic violence and the workplace

Brisbane City Council is demonstrating a positive commitment to staff by endeavouring to address domestic violence issues through the workplace.

The initiative emerged from the Lord Mayor's Women's Liaison Group which has established a Domestic Violence Committee. An estimated one third of families suffer domestic violence and this impacts on work performance and absenteeism. The Committee is developing action plans and other strategies to tackle the issue in Council's workplace and the wider community.

Lord Mayor Jim Soorley said Council has been actively campaigning against domestic violence in the community for some time. "Council is involved in a range of initiatives to address domestic violence including highly visible campaigns for Domestic Violence Prevention Week and support for local awareness raising projects," he said.

"To inform and encourage community involvement Council has also been involved in a pilot project aimed at fostering more coordinated responses to domestic violence by promoting greater collaboration between local communities, agencies and services."

The response to domestic violence is designed to be practical. The Domestic Violence Committee aimed to identify existing corporate consistencies, strategies and practices which would logically accommodate processes for recognising domestic violence in the Council workplace.

To assist implementation, the Committee enlisted the advice of the Assistant Director of the Domestic Violence Resource Centre Donna Justo. She said it is important for businesses to realise that developing a response to domestic violence does not have to be costly or laborious. Most businesses need only overlay existing strategies in workplace health and safety.

Brisbane's initiatives include an Employment Assistance Program which provides a counselling service for employees and a proposal to train Justice Referral Officers (grievance contact personnel) in how to link colleagues with points of assistance such as the Employee Assistance program.

Council's main objective is to let employees know that help is available and how to access it. "What is critical is that government and business understand the advantages of this process," Donna Justo said. "It will benefit employee productivity, is cost effective and businesses do not have to have all the answers, they can link into existing domestic violence services."

For further information contact Brisbane City Council's Senior Human Resources Projects Officer/Diversity Strategy telephone (07) 3403 8888.