New domestic violence factsheet for SMEs

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Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell has released a new factsheet on domestic violence for small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

The release coincided with White Ribbon Day last Friday.

White Ribbon is a global movement of men and boys working to end men’s violence against women. On its website, White Ribbon Australia states: “We aim to create an Australian society where all women can live in safety, free from violence and abuse.”

A workplace issue too

Ombudsman Kate Carnell says the consequences of violence at home can spill over into the workplace.

“Violence is a workplace health and safety issue if the perpetrator of the violence harasses and stalks their victim, putting the victim’s colleagues in danger,” she said.

“It’s important small business owners and employees understand domestic family violence, so they can give colleagues the support they need.

“If you think you don’t have time to develop a domestic-violence policy, remember it doesn’t need to be 20 pages. It can be one or two pages that cover key actions you can take if you or a staff member is experiencing domestic and family violence.

“Our factsheet provides information on workplace behaviours that might signal an employee is being abused and what to do when they disclose abuse.

“We also have contact details of national and state-territory organisations that can provide further information and support.

“Family violence is not discriminatory – it can happen to anyone. So it’s important that small business owners understand their obligations and have a plan of action, whether the victim be a member of staff or themselves.”

High on the agenda

Domestic and family violence has risen up the government’s agenda this year.

The Fair Work Commission and Fair Work Ombudsman recently made it a requirement for business owners to have a policy for dealing with domestic violence and supporting victims.

In a further government measure, people suffering domestic violence are now entitled to five days’ unpaid annual leave.

The private sector has been active, too. Just last week, retail giant ALDI introduced a new domestic violence policy for all its Australian employees.