Commitment to supporting staff experiencing domestic and family violence

Public Guardian’s statement of commitment to supporting staff experiencing domestic and family violence and some resources for assistance

Many people are affected by domestic and family violence, including the immediate person experiencing violence and the person using violence, their extended family and friends. Given the prevalence of reported domestic and family violence, it is understandable that OPG employees may have a personal experience of this. For those of you who have experienced it, you are not alone. Please know that I personally support you – and this Office will do everything we can to support the choices you personally want to make, including providing leave and other mechanisms to empower your freedom from domestic and family violence.

DFV continues to be one of the greater challenges of our community affecting people from all walks of life.

Domestic and family violence happens when one person in a relationship uses violence or abuse, or the threat of violence or abuse, as a deliberate action to control the other person. Domestic and family violence is usually an ongoing pattern of behaviour aimed at controlling a partner through fear. This often occurs quite outside the physical context.

Some common myths are: that domestic and family violence

  • is only ‘physical’ abuse
  • only occurs in the context of ‘anger’ or ‘uncontrolled outbursts’
  • only happens in the context of alcohol, drugs or mental illness.
  • only happens in the context of spousal relationships

None of the above statements are true. Power and control over another is the underpinning feature of a range of either non-physical or physical forms of domestic and family violence. Some people will not even identify the power and control behaviours they are experiencing as domestic and family violence. Regardless, everyone has the right to live free of this behaviour – and all people using these behaviours have the right to receive the support they need to change the attitudes that sustain these behaviours.

I am firmly committed to the right of every employee of OPG to feel safe and supported in the workplace. I acknowledge that the situation for each person will be different. I will ensure that all OPG Managers, Team Leaders and Supervisors are trained to:

  • Recognise the signs of domestic and family violence in both victims and perpetrators
  • Respond appropriately to changes in work performance, behaviours, appearance or disclosures.
  • Refer people affected by domestic violence to appropriate services and encourage individuals to seek help safely.

I want colleagues to feel empowered to support their peers who have been brave enough to disclose their experiences of domestic and family violence, and I will provide every opportunity for this to occur.

“Please remember that you are not alone”.

Of paramount importance to me is that the OPG:

  • Promotes safe, inclusive, respectful workplace culture and gender equity
  • Offers all affected victims, persons using violence, bystanders or those assisting affected persons appropriate support options. This can include offering special leave where required.
  • Identifies safety needs of employees who may be victims of DFV including employees who use violence and abuse.
  • Supports staff to build capability through training programs such as Recognise, Respond and Refer.
  • Challenges attitudes on violence and promote positive cultural change through approaches that support our people who use or may use violence to change their behaviour.
  • Uses respectful, non-judgemental language and support a culture where employees are confident and empowered.
  • Maintains confidentiality.

Where to go to get immediate, confidential help:

  • The following link will allow you to identify the closest and most appropriate free domestic and family violence counselling service in Queensland to you: click here
  • If you or a client are in immediate danger, phone the police on Triple Zero (000).
  • For immediate assistance with locating refuge accommodation and direct advice and support call: DVConnect Womensline: 1800 811 811. This service operates 24 hours, 7 days a week.
  • Advice and support for men is also provided through DVConnect Mensline: 1800 600 636. This service operates 9.00am to 12 midnight, 7 days a week
  • The Sexual Assault Helpline can be reached on 1800 010 120. It is open from 7.30am to 11.30pm, 7 days a week. Sexual Assault counselling and support services in your region can be found here.
  • The Elder Abuse Helpline can be reached on: 1300 651 192. It is open from 9.00am to 5.00pm, Monday to Friday.

A phone call to DVConnect is a great place to start—although based in Brisbane, they can link you in with a local service in your part of Queensland: 1800 811 811. If you are based in Brisbane, BDVAS can provide direct support on: (07) 3217 2544 and if you are in the Townsville area, contact NQDVRS.

A full list of services in Queensland can be found at: http://qlddomesticviolencelink.org.au/

  1. 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732) is a free national counselling helpline, information and support service available 24/7.  It’s a resource for those either experiencing violence, or their friends and family to talk to.
  2. DVConnnect Mensline also exists to support men (1800 600 636).
  3. We are really lucky in Queensland. Unlike many places, this State actually provides services to people who use violence on others and really want to stop.

DJAG has a very informative page on the intranet which includes a resource pack (http://intranet.justice.govnet.qld.gov.au/divisions-and-branches/corporate-services/domestic-and-family-violence/domestic-and-family-violence-in-the-workplace

Please remember that myself and everyone in this office is committed to listening to you, not judging the decisions you make and supporting you regardless of what decision you make.

Natalie Siegel-Brown
Public Guardian