A new law is in effect for New Zealand businesses that offers domestic violence leave up to ten working days. Upon the legislation implementation on April 1, many companies are starting to understand their role in doing more to help prevent domestic violence and to support its victims. As a result, many are now joining a domestic violence business accreditation framework through White Ribbon and The Warehouse.
“Our country has the highest rate of reported violence in the developed world,” said White Ribbon ambassador Anna Campbell. “To change this, we need an all-of-society-approach. That is why White Ribbon supports and encourages businesses to prevent violence through education and awareness raising as part of our accreditation process.”
The process is simple and involves the accreditation team working with organisations to ensure their policies create a safe workplace.
“We then train key staff so the organisation has the knowledge and skills to support victims of domestic abuse in the workplace and ultimately deliver the training themselves,” she said. “Lastly we work with businesses to ensure they have violence prevention built into their yearly activities, and where possible, this includes both employees and customers. This ensures that we are not just working with victims and survivors, but helping to break the cycle of family violence by supporting those who use violence to change.”
In Queenstown and Wanaka, where domestic violence is reported to line the town’s underbelly, a strong and similar conversation on how businesses can get involved in violence prevention started a few years ago.
“We are not working in silos, we are connected to what is happening nationally and what is happening locally,” said Jigsaw Central Lakes family violence coordinator Jane Guy. She is not directly linked to White Ribbon or to The Warehouse, who offer their own in-house training; however, she has been implementing Jigsaw’s business training, suggesting policy changes and starting conversations around domestic violence for the last two years.
Jigsaw, Wakatipu's domestic and sexual violence abuse prevention network, currently focuses its workplace education programs on Queenstown, but plans to expand those services towards Wanaka soon.
Noting a 48 percent increase in Jigsaw’s work with domestic abuse clients throughout the Wakatipu Basin between 2017 and 2018, Guy implements timely information into her training as well as new ideas and approaches for businesses and companies to consider. “Things like: what is happening for the employees socially, what information do you include on your pay slips, people need to think about safety and how do people come forward to human resources and ask about that [now legislated] 10 days of time off because there are even safety issues around that,” she said.
She said one of the biggest things Jigsaw echoes back to companies is that victims typically do not talk about domestic violence at work. “That reiterates to management there's nothing wrong and they just carry on,” she said. We are not trying to turn businesses into social workers; we are just trying to raise the awareness level so people can start talking and getting access to help where they need it.”