Unions have partnered with It’s not OK to provide information about family violence in the workplace using the message what happens at home affects what happens at work.
Unions have developed posters featuring union representatives, and information about family violence is being included in some unions’ newsletters and magazines.
The Council of Trade Unions is leading the unions’ involvement in family violence prevention. Resources have been developed and distributed by the Public Service Association, Maritime Union, Nurses Organisation, Tertiary Education Union and First Union, and more are planned.
New Zealand has high rates of family violence – half of all murders and 60 percent of violent crime is family violence related. Police attend an incident every six minutes.
It is a workplace issue because what happens at home affects what happens at work. Family violence affects the safety and wellbeing of workers.
Making your workplace safe for people to talk about what is happening at home is a good start. People who are living with violence feel a lot of shame, talking about it is hard – how colleagues and employers respond can make a difference.
Know the Signs
Violence is not just physical; it includes verbal, emotional, sexual and financial abuse, and can happen in any family or intimate relationship: partners (married, de-facto, dating, same sex and different sex), parents and children, grandparents and grandchildren, extended family.
Family violence happens to people of any age, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, ability and faith.
Signs of physical abuse are easier to identify than more subtle – and more common – signs that someone may be abused at home. They include:
- distressed, distracted and fearful at work
- keeping secrets, withdrawn
- receiving constant texts, phone calls and visits
- needing permission from another person
- taking a lot time off work.
Signs that someone you know may be using violence in their relationships include:
- jealous or possessive of their partner
- controlling family members
- yelling, swearing, putting down
- using derogatory language and sexual comments
- bullying in the workplace
- using work time and resources to harass or monitor their victim.
What can you do?
Workplaces can offer support to people living with violence, as well as taking a stand on the issue and creating an environment where violence will not be tolerated.
Research by the It’s not OK Campaign shows that people want help from those around them first – family, friends, colleagues. Police estimate that only 20% of family violence incidents are reported to them.
Raise awareness – put posters and leaflets round the workplace including staff rooms and bathrooms; arrange speakers; include information in newsletters, on websites, Facebook and emails.
Education – organise family violence awareness training; help members to recognise signs that a colleague is affected by violence; support champions in the workplace – this could be people who have become violence free or ‘go to’ people who know how to respond if a colleague discloses violence.
Policies – include procedures for responding to disclosures, how to keep victims safe and contact people who know about family violence and harassment; include clauses on supporting victims in employment agreements.
Be Ready – know who your local family violence prevention services are and what can be offered immediately such as flexi-time, time off, relocating to a non-public area, alerting security guards.
Take Action – take all threats seriously. If someone discloses believe him or her. The family violence information line can help you work out what to do and refer you to local services 0800 456 450. If a person’s life is in danger call the Police on 111 even if you’re not sure. Encourage victims to make a safety plan. For more information go to www.womensrefuge.org.nz
The It’s not OK Campaign aims to make family violence unacceptable in families, communities and workplaces. The Campaign has partnerships with unions, business organisations, sports clubs, local Government, and community organisations.
You can order campaign posters and leaflets free from www.areyouok.org.nz