Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Australian Government calls on business to join the fight against domestic violence

Corporate Australia is being enlisted to help the Howard Government tackle the scourge of domestic violence which has been estimated to cost the nation around $8.1 billion each year.

The Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women’s Issues, Senator Kay Patterson, during an event to mark National Stop Domestic Violence Day, said the Howard Government had devoted $50 million during the past seven years to research and develop innovative and effective strategies to help combat domestic violence.

“The unprecedented commitment by our government to tackle this problem is being further expanded today with the launch of national seminars and resource materials to help corporate Australia make a bigger contribution.

“While domestic violence rarely occurs in the workplace, it has been estimated that the problem is costing businesses up to $1.5 billion a year.

“Progressive and community focused companies such as Qantas, Australia Post and BankWest have already introduced policies to support domestic violence victims and help perpetrators recognise they have a problem and need help.

“I also want to acknowledge Trevor Nisbett of the Eagles, Cameron Schwab of the Dockers and the players from both teams who represented the Australian Football League at this important event.

“Our Partnerships Against Domestic Violence – A Business Approach initiative will encourage more senior executives and human resources managers to raise awareness about the impact of domestic violence, both among their workforce and in the wider community.

“As part of this process we are very happy to have engaged Relationships Australia to host a national round of seminars for businesses beginning early next month in Canberra, Darwin, Newcastle and Townsville.

“We will be encouraging Australian businesses to use our research and resources to develop their own domestic violence policies so that they are better prepared to deal with the issues when an employee is a victim or perpetrator of domestic violence.

“Some employers may not be aware that domestic violence is the underlying reason for a downturn in individual performance or behavioural changes by an employee.

“If those employers have domestic violence policies and trained staff in place they will be able to take early action to provide information and access to professional services which may prevent major productivity losses through absenteeism and reduced work rates,” Senator Kay Patterson.