03 October, 2017

Shine awards first DVFREE Tick to Westpac, now a domestic violence “safe haven”

Can New Zealand businesses become safe havens for victims of family violence?

Shine, a leading New Zealand domestic violence specialist organisation, has awarded its first DVFREE Tick to Westpac NZ.

The DVFREE Tick recognizes that Westpac NZ has a comprehensive domestic violence programme that provides a safe and supportive workplace for staff who are experiencing domestic violence. It ensures staff know what to do if they see or know domestic violence is happening to, or being perpetrated by, someone in the workplace; ensures the use of work time or resources to perpetrate domestic abuse is not tolerated, and non-violent change is supported and encouraged.

Both men and women can be affected by domestic violence; however, one in three women in New Zealand experience physical or sexual assault within their lifetime. Westpac NZ, with its 4,500-staff made up of 62 per cent women, is training hundreds of employees to be equipped to help victims of violence, including workshops for managers and in-depth training for ‘First Responders’ - hand-picked staff who are available to support any staff who are being abused and wish to seek help from Westpac NZ.

All Westpac NZ staff are encouraged to complete the online domestic violence learning module that the bank developed in partnership with Shine last year. This module is available to anyone to complete online. Westpac NZ also offers five days paid leave to employees impacted by domestic violence.

“The DVFREE Tick is a new solution to one of New Zealand’s most important social issues,” says Holly Carrington, Communications Manager at Shine, who was part of the Shine Team working with Westpac NZ to train staff and implement the DVFREE programme. “The DVFREE Tick lets current and prospective employees know that Westpac is a safe and supportive place to work, especially if you are experiencing domestic abuse.”

Ms. Carrington continues: “Imagine if all New Zealand businesses had the DVFREE Tick – more than half a million businesses employing more than two million people. That would be an important signal to all New Zealanders that family violence is unacceptable and support is available.”

“Realising that domestic violence is actually a workplace issue was a revelatory moment for me,” adds Westpac NZ Chief Executive David McLean. “As a large employer, knowing that some of our staff members are suffering abuse from a partner or family member obliges us to do something to help them out of these intensely difficult situations, because we take our role seriously to keep our people safe and secure. The DVFREE Tick requires much more than a domestic violence policy and provision for special domestic violence leave. We help in all manner of ways to ensure our people are kept safe. This could include a security plan, alerts that let us know if they need urgent assistance or other forms of support – whatever they feel they need. “We also welcome legislation, currently before Select Committee, that would require businesses to take some of the steps we’ve already taken, and we believe we have a moral duty of care to help where and when we can,” Mr McLean says. "In the meantime, we would encourage other businesses to take steps to make their workplaces domestic violence-free.

Shine has developed the DVFREE Tick programme for businesses across New Zealand. The programme requires the development of comprehensive policy and procedures, as well as targeted training for key staff and awareness-raising for all staff. To be awarded the DVFREE Tick (starting from “ground zero”) would typically require three- to six-months of focused effort for a large employer.

The DVFREE Tick is the latest, most comprehensive development of Shine’s DVFREE programme, first developed in 2001 to support employers to improve their response to employees who experience domestic violence, as well as to employees who perpetrate domestic violence.

More about the DVFREE Tick

The DVFREE Tick is awarded for meeting criteria that includes:

1. Creating a pathway for employees experiencing domestic violence, so they know how to get help within their organisation and in the community, know their concerns will be taken seriously and that they will receive emotional and practical support to be safe at work.
2. Raising the level of awareness about domestic violence throughout the organisation to dispel common victim blaming attitudes to make it easier for victims to disclose domestic violence without stigma.
3. Making sure that all staff know what to do if they know or suspect that someone on staff is experiencing or perpetrating domestic violence.
4. Making sure domestic violence is not tolerated or excused and being prepared to respond appropriately to staff who perpetrate domestic violence on work time or with work resources

Shine’s experts have distilled their knowledge and experience to create Guidelines on Policy & Procedures – a detailed set of recommendations and supporting information, that also outlines the criteria for the DVFREE Tick. The Guidelines can be purchased through www.dvfree.org.nz.

Shine has over 25 years of experience responding to domestic violence. This includes many years of demonstrated success training professionals in how to recognise domestic violence and respond safely and effectively to both victims and those using violence. Shine provides a range of services that help adult and child victims of domestic violence to get safe and stay safe, and that motivate and support men and women who’ve abused partners and family members to change.