Council staff united against Domestic and Family Violence

Published on 17 October 2019

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Rockhampton Regional Council demonstrated their commitment towards the elimination of domestic and family violence this week, with over 600 staff attending mandatory expert led awareness sessions.

Mark Walters from the CQU Centre for Domestic and Family Violence Research spoke to employees about what people can do personally and in the workplace to recognise potential risk factors and provide support to those who need it.

Tracy Sweeney, the Manager of Workforce and Governance at Rockhampton Regional Council, said the sessions Mr Walters had with supervisors earlier in the year received such positive feedback that Council decided to invite him back to speak to all staff members.

“Mr Walters’ knowledge, experience and insights into this issue are without dispute, as he is an educator at the Centre for Domestic and Family Violence Research at Central Queensland University and sits on Queensland’s Domestic and Family Violence Death Review and Advisory Board.

“We received outstanding feedback on his knowledge and presentation style from our supervisors earlier this year, so we wanted to share his insights with our entire workforce.

“Unfortunately domestic and family violence is a significant problem in Australia. On average, one woman a week is murdered by her current or former partner, 1 in 6 Australian women have experienced physical or sexual violence, and 1 in 4 have experience emotional abuse by a current or former partner.

“Women are disproportionately affected by domestic and family violence but men can also experience it, with 1 in 19 Australian men experiencing physical abuse at the hands of a current or former partner.

“As one of the most public facing and largest employers in the region we are very aware of our responsibility to our staff and the wider community to take a firm and public stance on the issue of domestic and family violence.

“Council is committed to promoting a safe workplace free from all forms of violence and we have policies and procedures in place – including domestic and family violence leave, flexible working arrangements and access to counselling – to support those affected.”

Mark Walters said that in response to the 2015 Not Now, Not Ever report the Queensland Government committed to three foundational elements in the Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Strategy 2016-2026 (DFVP Strategy). These are shifting community attitudes and behaviours, integrating service responses, and strengthening justice system responses.

“Obviously there is a lot of work to be done across all of these areas, but these sessions really focus on shifting community attitudes and behaviours. Of course not all men are violent but to quote Michael Kaufmann, the founder of White Ribbon, most men are silent on the issue.  

“The sessions are quite challenging and confronting, especially when we look at the statistics that show the overwhelming majority of domestic and family violence is perpetrated by men and we have to ask ourselves why that is and how can we change it. The real question becomes not ‘why doesn’t she leave’, but ‘why doesn’t he stop’.

“When gender stereotypes and inequality are present and not challenged in our communities, domestic and family violence is more likely to occur. 

“The good news is that it is possible to change attitudes and behaviours and shape a better future for us all, and I commend the Rockhampton Regional Council for involving all of their employees in this.”

To organise a session for your organisation, contact The Queensland Centre for Domestic and Family Research on 4940 3320. https://noviolence.org.au/

Further information:

Domestic and family violence takes place in the context of an intimate partner relationship; against a previous intimate partner, within a family relationship, or in an informal care relationship. It is not exclusive to heterosexual relationships. Domestic violence can occur with same-sex couples and other intimate relationships that exist in the LGBTIQ+ community.

Domestic violence is often thought of as being mainly about physical abuse of a woman by her male partner. However, domestic violence can be any behaviour used to exert power and control over a person through fear. Types of domestic and family violence behaviours include: financial abuse, stalking, verbal abuse, psychological/emotional abuse, sexual abuse, reproductive abuse, spiritual/cultural abuse, damage to personal property, digital/technology abuse and social abuse.

All information and statistics taken from DVConnect, a not-for-profit organisation that has provided state-wide specialist domestic, family and sexual violence crisis counselling, intervention, information and pathways to safety (emergency housing and refuge) for 17 years

Pictured: Lawrie Whouley -RRC Coordinator Human Resources and Payroll, Mark Walters - CQU Centre for Domestic and Family Violence Research, and Tracy Sweeney – RRC Manager of Workforce and Governance.