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Benalla Health on the way to becoming an Accredited White Ribbon Workplace

Benalla Health is proud to announce that it has been accepted by White Ribbon Australia to work towards Accreditation as a White Ribbon Workplace.

Coinciding with the release of the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence, by joining the White Ribbon Workplace Accreditation Program, Benalla Health provides an example and leadership to other business within Benalla around dealing with Family Violence in the workplace. A recent survey showed that 30% of women in the workplace had experienced family violence. This disturbing statistic impacts negatively on businesses in terms of decreased staff performance and productivity; increased staff turnover and absenteeism. Furthermore it damages the organisation’s reputation and image in addition to the serious impact family violence has on women, children and families affected.

The Chief Executive of Benalla Health (Janine Holland) said,

“I am very pleased that Benalla Health has taken the step to become an Accredited White Ribbon Workplace. Our staff and especially those people in Community Health have worked diligently with our partners in the local community to raise the issue of family violence, support victims and encourage people to speak up and act when they see family violence. I would hope that other organisations and employees will follow our example and work with their staff to take action and stand up against Family Violence in our community.”

The White Ribbon Statement of Commitment signed by Janine Holland the Chief Executive of Benalla Health and Libby Davies, Chief Executive Officer of White Ribbon Australia, states that Benalla Health is committed to:

  • Encouraging greater understanding, knowledge and action around violence prevention within Benalla Health for the benefit of both the employer and all employees;
  • Demonstrating that Benalla Health recognises violence against women as a human rights issue that must be addressed in the workplace and
  • Participating in the White Ribbon Accreditation Program for the purpose of gaining accreditation as a White Ribbon Workplace.

Why is domestic and family violence a workplace issue?

In Australia, approximately one woman is killed by her current or former partner every week, often after a history of domestic and family violence.

  • 34% of women have experienced physical violence since the age of 15.
  • 17% of women have experienced violence from a current or former partner since the age of 18 (compared to 5.3% of men).
  • 30% of respondents to a 2011 survey on domestic and family violence and the workplace reported they had experienced violence, and 5% of those respondents had experienced violence in the last 12 months

Domestic and family violence is not just a private or personal issue. When an employee is living with domestic and family violence, there are often very real costs and negative impacts that flow on to the workplace.

Economic costs:

  • In the 2008/09 financial year, the cost of intimate partner violence to the Australian economy overall was estimated to be $13.6 billion.
  • If no preventative action is taken, this cost is projected to rise to $15.6 billion annually by 2021/22.
  • $456 million of this $15.6 billion will be borne by employers and $609 million will be borne in productivity losses.

Workplace costs:

Within the population of women who have experienced violence, or are currently experiencing violence, the Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates that between 55% and 70% are currently in the workforce  – that is, approximately 800,000 women, or around one in six female workers. This means that a significant number of Australian workplaces will be impacted by women’s experiences of domestic and family violence.

Impacts on employees:

Research into the workplace implications of domestic and family violence has demonstrated how such violence can undermine the working lives of both victims and survivors.

The 2011 National Domestic Violence and the Workplace Survey found that nearly half (48%) of respondents who reported experiencing domestic and family violence said the violence had affected their ability to get to work. The main impact of violence was on work performance - 16% of victims and survivors reported being distracted, tired or unwell and 10% needed to take time off work. Further, women who experience domestic and family violence are also more likely to have lower personal incomes, a disrupted work history, often have to change jobs at short notice and are often employed in casual or part time work.

If you would like to know more about how you can make a difference in the workplace, contact Neil Stott,  Director of Community Health and White Ribbon Ambassador, on 5761 4500.

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