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Domestic violence programs needed in the workforce


Aged care facilities need to implement a domestic violence program or policy to support staff, an industry conference in Sydney heard.

Eldercare site operations manager Ryan Midgley said violence mustn’t be kept behind closed doors.

“Domestic violence is not something we can ignore as employers,” Mr Midgley told delegates at the ACSA National Summit yesterday.

Almost two women a week are killed as a result of domestic violence, Mr Midgley said.

“Indigenous women are 10 times more likely to die from assault and 35 times more likely to be hospitalised as a result of intimate partner violence. One in six women is currently experiencing domestic violence,” he said.

There are potentially 53,683 victims of domestic violence among Australia’s 366,000-strong aged care workforce, Mr Midgley said.

He said domestic violence occurs in many forms where women are demeaned and considered less valuable.

Sexist language or jokes, victim blaming, belittling, controlling money, verbal abuse, sexual harassment, social isolation, physical violence and murder are all forms of domestic violence.

Eldercare received the White Ribbon Workplace Accreditation in February earlier this year, Mr Midgley said.

He said the accreditation program recognises active steps to stop violence against women.

Eldercare’s commitment to become a White Ribbon Workplace-accredited organisation came after its CEO Jane Pickering attended a White Ribbon ceremony in Adelaide in 2015.

This followed the introduction of an 18-month project which involved educating staff, using the Prince 2 project management methodology, creating brochures, posters, newsletters, magazine updates, holding monthly meetings and having a ‘can do’ attitude.

“White Ribbon’s vision is about having a nation that respects women in which every woman lives safely, free from all forms of abuse, including physical, sexual, verbal social, spiritual, economic and cyber abuse,” White Ribbon ambassador Mr Midgley said.

White Ribbon provided tools to strengthen Eldercare’s culture in the workplace, he said.

“The program supported us to respond to violence against women in an environment where women feel safe to come and get help.

“We all know the wellbeing of staff is directly related to the wellbeing of your residents and community,” Mr Midgley said.

The key benefits that are seen within the implementation of the program at Eldercare are social change and increasing safety and morale, he said.

Increasing knowledge to address violence against women, increasing retention and productivity, and decreasing staff turnover, risks across the organisation and sick leave are among other benefits of implementing a domestic violence program.

He said having leadership, community engagement and cultural change in the workplace are among primary prevention techniques of domestic violence.

The ACSA National Summit takes place in Sydney from September 3-5.

More information on the White Ribbon Workplace Accreditation program here.

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One Response to Domestic violence programs needed in the workforce

  1. Felicity Chapman September 6, 2018 at 8:04 am #

    This is good and very welcome – but there are two gaps that I think deserve equal attention.

    1. Aged care homes not only need literacy about domestic violence to support the well being of staff. Staff also need to be aware of the many different forms of domestic violence to support and protect their residents – especially when both husband and wife reside in the same care home. If the one who has experienced a history of abuse also has dementia then they are doubly more vulnerable and their families are often not aware that abuse exists and/or are in the vices of it themselves.

    2. While I do appreciate that a shocking number of women experience abuse from men – please let’s not forget to that men are also abused.

    Felicity Chapman – clinical social worker and author of Counselling and Psychotherapy with Older People in Care.

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