At 7am this Friday a moving walk will be held in Wollongong where pairs of shoes will be laid out to remember each person who has died as a result of domestic violence in the last 12 months.
The walk is raising awareness about domestic violence and comes just days after the Housing Trust became the first business in the Illawarra to be awarded White Ribbon Workplace Accreditation recognising leadership in domestic violence prevention and response.
One in three women will experience violence in their lifetime and hite Ribbon Australia program manager Ronan Smith encouraged all organisations to do as much as they can. “What we are trying to do is create social and cultural change and accreditation is a tool that allows us to do that”.
Mr Smith said the Housing Trust accreditation acknowledged the standard it was setting. The only other local organisations in the region to achieve this recognition are the NSW Police and a government department. The accreditation demonstrates the Housing Trust is a safe, respectful and supportive workplace which has benefits for its clients, the broader community and their staff.
A new policy provides staff experiencing domestic violence with 10 days of special leave to help leave violent relationships. Which is important support given research by the Australian Council of Trade Unions estimates the average cost of leaving a violent relationship is $18,000 and 141 hours.
The tools and learning provided the Housing Trust provides enables its staff to identify and challenge inappropriate behaviour both inside and outside of the organisation.
Chief executive Michele Adair said the accreditation was the result of 18 months of development across all staffing levels. And she encouraged team members present to share information about how it has been implemented with other organisations commited to stopping violence against women.
“Everyone has embraced the strategies we have put in place,” she said.
“By ensuring our staff are promoting respect and equality we can provide an increasingly effective service to the whole community”.
Anything that can be done is important because one in three women will experience violence in their lifetime so domestic violence is an issue in every workplace.
Mr Smith said the more workplaces that equip their staff with the knowledge and skills they need to address violence against women in their daily work helps reduce violence everywhere.
He said the accreditation lasts three years and is designed to provide ongoing support to all employees in challenging inappropriate behaviour within their organisation.
He said violence against women as a serious, prevalent and preventable issue.
Whether it happens inside or outside the workplace it impacts on the health and safety of employees, their wellbeing and their productivity.
It also impacts negatively on workplace culture, organisational reputation and bottom-line profit and loss.
The community will get a chance to help publicly raise awareness this Friday morning when the Illawarra Committee Against Domestic Violence asks people to show their support by saying no to domestic violence at the annual White Ribbon Day Walk.
It will start at 7am at Andrew Lysaght Park and proceed along the foreshore and past the lighthouse before concluding at J P Galvin Park next to the North Wollongong Surf Club.
Committee chairperson Debbie Gaudie said immediately following the walk range of speakers including White Ribbon ambassador Greg Yee as well as the Lord Mayor and commander of the Wollongong Local Area Command for NSW Police.
It will also involved a moving tribute to those who have died as a result of domestic violence during the last year.
The theme on Friday is “walk in her shoes” and towards the end of the walk pairs of shoes will be laid out to represent each life lost to domestic violence.
Mrs Gaudie said it was important to take a stand in trying to eliminate domestic and family violence.
SOME IMPORTANT FACTS
WHITE RIBBON WALK – ILLAWARRA
- The 2017 Illawarra White Ribbon Day Walk is on Friday, November 24 between 7am and 9am.
- The walk is a way to raise awareness of domestic violence.
- The walk starts at Andrew Lysaght Park Wollongong (In front of the Illawarra Brewery) and finishes in JP Galvin Park Wollongong (next to North Wollongong Surf Club). In the event of bad weather, walkers can meet at the Wollongong PCYC.
- The event is hosted by the Illawarra Committee Against Domestic Violence.
- The Lord Mayor, Superintendent of Police and White Ribbon Ambassador Greg Yea will be speaking at the event
- This is a chance to show your support and say “No” to domestic violence.
- Donations are accepted on the day.
- Free bacon and egg rolls and sausage sizzles will be available for breakfast after the walk. It is a family friendly event.
DOMESTIC AND FAMILY VIOLENCE
- Statistical evidence indicates that one in three women will experience violence in their lifetime.
- Domestic and family violence is a pattern of abusive behaviours used by one person in a relationship to gain and maintain control over another person.
- Domestic violence can happen in any relationship including between husbands and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends, people in same sex relationships, parents abused by their children, older people abused by their family members and the abuse of young people.
- Domestic violence can happen in ongoing relationships or after separation.
- Breaking the silence surrounding domestic violence is the first step towards stopping it.
- Domestic violence is a crime and should be reported to the police. Domestic violence happens across all communities, all cultures and all social and economic conditions.
- Domestic violence affects people from all age groups, income levels, cultures, nationalities and religions. It can happen to anyone.
- Domestic violence is the most common form of assault in Australia today. It remains largely a hidden problem, because it usually occurs within the privacy of the home and people are reluctant to talk about it because of fear, shame or embarrassment.
- Research by the Australian Council of Trade Unions shows that leaving a violent relationship takes on average $18,000 and 141 hours.
WHITE RIBBON ACCREDITATION
- The White Ribbon Workplace Accreditation Program recognises workplaces that are taking active steps to prevent and respond to violence against women.
- Housing Trust is the first Illawarra business (both the NSW Police and NSW Family and Community Services have accreditation) to gain accreditation.
- The organisation has been working for more than 18 months to gain accreditation.
- The accreditation lasts for three years.
- Accredited workplaces demonstrate effective leadership, resource allocation, communication, HR policy development and training to create a safer and more respectful workplace.
- The program builds on existing gender equality and diversity initiatives, providing the tools to strengthen a culture of respect and gender equality at all levels of the organisation.
- The program supports organisations to respond to and prevent violence against women, whether it occurs inside or outside the organisation, through supporting women experiencing violence, holding perpetrators to account, supporting all employees to challenge inappropriate behaviour and strengthening gender equality within the broader community.
Key benefits of White Ribbon Workplace Accreditation
- Drive social change to strengthen gender equality and stop violence against women
- improved workplace culture, office safety and morale
- increased knowledge and skills of staff to address violence against women
- improved retention rates and lower staff turnover
- risk mitigation
- improved productivity
- reduced absenteeism
- improved reputation
- becoming an employer of choice.
- The Housing Trust is the largest Community Housing Provider in the Illawarra, providing subsidised rental homes and wrap around support services for more than 2000 people in need.
- It formed in 1983 to prevent homelessness by providing long-term rental housing to people on very low to moderate incomes via social and affordable housing.
- The Housing Trust recognises that Domestic Violence is one of the leading causes of homelessness.