Domestic Violence – what can your workplace do?

Does White Ribbon Australia closing have an impact on our response to domestic violence?

Over the past few years I have been in a privileged position as a Family Violence Contact Officer, helping and supporting many women within my workplace (my role was to support all staff, but only women have utilised it). These women have trusted me during one of the most difficult times in their life. They sought help because they were victims of domestic violence.

In the news recently, we were once again told of another shocking domestic violence situation and reminded that “One woman is killed every week, by domestic violence”. We then heard about the closure of the charity, White Ribbon Australia.

White Ribbon Australia was one of Australia best known domestic violence charities. The White Ribbon movement engaged men and boys: to end men’s violence against women and girls; promote gender equality; and create a new vision of masculinity. A charity which assisted many organisations implement preventative programs and campaigns to help educate workplaces in relation to Violence against Women.

This movement often started conversations in the workplace. Conversations which, in the past, many preferred not to have. Conversations too hard and too sensitive to even start.  I found throughout my time supporting not only the victims of domestic violence, but also their managers, that the “White Ribbon” discussion tools and conversation resources were invaluable.

What steps can you take to not only educate and increase awareness about domestic violence, but set your workplace up to provide the support and processes needed?

Prevention and education

Prevention and education are the first steps in ending violence against women. By talking about the signs of family violence and identifying if you or someone you work with is experiencing violence, are actions to help prevent violence against women. Educate yourself, so when and if the time comes, you are ready.

What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence refers to violence, abuse and intimidation between people who are currently or have previously been in an intimate relationship. The perpetrator uses violence to control and dominate the other person. This causes fear, physical harm and/or psychological harm. Domestic violence is a violation of human rights.

Domestic Violence can include:

  • Physical assault
  • Sexual assault
  • Verbal abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Financial abuse
  • Social abuse
  • Spiritual abuse

What are the signs of domestic violence I should be looking out for?


Should I approach an employee or colleague if I think they are a victim?

Many people worry that if they approach an employee or colleague they would feel as though they were “interfering” or that its personal matter and not a work matter. From my experience employees welcome a conversation to check on their wellbeing.

A supportive and caring approach will ensure your best intentions show.  A clear and sensitive way to commence the conversation may be:

“I’ve noticed you don’t seem yourself lately and I am worried about you. Are you okay?


“I’ve noticed some bruises or that you’ve been crying a lot lately. I am worried about you. Are you okay?”

It important to not push the situation if they are uncomfortable, but always let them know that you are here for support or to chat at any time.

What if they tell me they are a victim?

The first steps when an employee discloses an experience of violence are critical. As employers you can provide support as follows:
















Awareness and White Ribbon Day

November 22nd 2019 is White Ribbon Day. Even though White Ribbon Australia has closed its doors, this does not mean that this vital awareness day will cease. I encourage workplaces to continue with their plan to raise awareness, and continue to educate, support and seek advice in relation to domestic violence.

Within the next few months we will blog about Domestic Violence workplace legislation, resources and tools to help managers support victims of domestic violence and create safe workplaces.

Together we all can make a difference in ending domestic violence.

If you or someone you know is experiencing violence and need help and support, please contact on the hotline numbers below:

  • Call 000 for Police and Ambulance help if you or someone is in immediate danger.
  • WRISC- Family Violence Support – 53 333 666
  • Safe Steps- Family Violence Response Centre – 1800 015 188
  • 1800RESPECT – 1800 737 732
  • Lifeline – 13 11 14
  • Mensline Australia – 1300 789 978


Emma Baldwin is a seasoned human resource business partner, who strives to build trust and respect in every workplace. As a generalist, Emma’s experience spans the full range of human resources including: compliance, mediation, investigation, conflict resolution, employee training and recruitment. Outside of work, Emma enjoys exploring the great outdoors, health and fitness, theatre productions and spending time with her young family.


Disclaimer: The material contained in this publication is of a general nature only. It is not, nor is intended to be, legal advice. If you wish to act based on the content of this publication, we recommend that you seek professional advice.



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