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Domestic violence is a workplace issue.

Workplaces need to do more to support victims of domestic and family violence.

That’s the message coming from some of the most prominent business leaders in Australia.

The Male Champions of Change, a group of business leaders including Qantas’ Alan Joyce, Treasury Secretary Martin Parkinson and former chief of Army Lieutenant General David Morrison, AO, recently released a report that called on Australian business to step up.

The report asks businesses to change their culture to help staff struggling with domestic and family violence.

That could mean talking about the impact of domestic violence, creating a workplace culture where people feel comfortable coming forward about problems at home, and providing leave for staff who are affected by violence in their homes.

“Economic factors are the most significant predictor of whether a woman experiencing domestic violence remains, escapes or returns to an abusive relationship. Our workplaces assist in providing the economic independence that supports women’s choices,” the report says.

“Furthermore, perpetrators often make use of work resources (such as email and phone) to carry out their abuse. Workplaces can ensure that this is not tolerated.”

It also argues that workplaces cannot afford to ignore violence at home, just because it isn’t always visible.

“Given the prevalence and cost of violence and our ability to make a difference, we are not prepared to dismiss domestic and family violence as a personal matter, outside our interest.

“We believe organisations can play a significant role when they have a robust response – thought through, leader-led, implemented strongly and not left to chance,” it says.

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Former Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick is chair of  Male Champions of Change.

elizabeth brodrick
Elizabeth Brodrick presenting her Ted Talk. Image via YouTube @Ted X Talks.

Launching the report, which is aimed at other business leaders in Australia and around the world, Broderick said the report was “the first time a group of leaders – including some of the nation’s most powerful business leaders –  have come together to acknowledge domestic violence as a workplace issue”.

“After learning from experts, they are committed to taking practical action to reduce the prevalence and impact of such violence, and to sharing what they have learned,” she said.

Supporting domestic and family violence victims would help Australia on the path to gender equality, the report says.

“Gender inequality is both a cause and consequence of domestic violence. We realise now that we can’t champion gender balanced leadership, without addressing domestic and family violence, whose victims are overwhelmingly women.”

According to Male Champions for Change, 1.4 million Australian women are currently or have previously been living in an abusive relationship.

800,000 of those women are workforce, and it is economic factors that determine whether a woman stays in an abusive relationship.

KPMG, who produced the report, estimate that domestic and family violence will cost Australian businesses $609 million a year by 2021.

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