University of Auckland introduces family violence policy

Image: iStock

In November 2015, the University of Auckland joined the growing list of New Zealand employers to adopt family violence policies.

The University's "Family Violence Policy" and "Family Violence Prevention and Management Guidelines" set out supports it can provide for students and staff affected by family violence.

Supports available can include: 

  • Flexible work or study arrangements
  • Leave
  • Compassionate considerations
  • Campus personal safety planning

The policy and guidelines support people who:

  • Have experienced or are experiencing family violence
  • Are concerned about a student or colleague, or about safety on campus because they are aware of a family violence situation
  • Are managing an employee experiencing family violence
The University will provide "reasonable support" for staff and students affected by family violence so as to enable them to maintain employment or study. The policy is supported by training, guides and other resources.
 
The policy says, "The University affirms that family violence is unacceptable and that every person is entitled to respect and to live free from fear and abuse. The University also has a legal obligation to ensure a safe and healthy work, learning and (for those in university accommodation) living environment."
 
Vice Chancellor Stuart McCutcheon and Pro Vice-Chancellor (Equity) Trudie McNaughton affirm that the University has a role in addressing family violence in a video message.
 
Further information is available from the Family violence – It’s Not OK page on the University of Auckland website. 
 
Other New Zealand workplaces to have implemented family violence supports include the Warehouse Group, New Zealand's largest retailer and the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), the only state sector employer to have done so.

Further information and resources

New Zealand

Intimate partner violence and the workplace (New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse Issues Paper 7, November 2014). This paper summarises New Zealand and international research and resources on workplace responses to intimate partner violence. It discusses: why workplaces are an ideal place for intervention and raising awareness about intimate partner violence, barriers to action by workplaces, and local and international examples of strategies to support employees experiencing intimate partner violence.

The It’s Not OK Campaign has a range of resources relevant to workplaces and businesses. These include a "Good for staff, good for business" toolkit on how employers can increase understanding of family violence and support employees affected by family violence.

In Auckland, the North Harbour Business Association, in conjunction with the It's Not OK Campaign, New Zealand Police, the North Shore and Rodney Family Violence Networks, Shine and the North Shore Women’s Centre, promote the ways businesses can support employees experiencing violence. The partnership has produced free resources designed to help businesses increase their understanding of family violence and be able to take simple actions without a significant time or financial commitment.

Shine (Safer Homes in New Zealand Everyday) has developed DVFREE, a programme supporting employers to develop an effective workplace response to domestic abuse.

Productivity Gains from Workplace Protection of Victims of Domestic Violence (Sherilee Kahui, Bryan Ku and Suzanne Snively, 2014). This report found domestic violence costs employers $368 million a year, a cost which would be avoidable through workplace protections.

Measuring the Economic Costs of Child Abuse and Intimate Partner Violence to New Zealand (Sherilee Kahui & Suzanne Snively, 2014)

A Member's Bill, Domestic Violence - Victims' Protection, proposed by Green MP Jan Logie, aims to enhance legal protections for victims of domestic violence through a series of amendments. The Bill is yet to be drawn from the ballot.

The Public Services Association (PSA) has carried out a range of activities on addressing family violence as a workplace issue.

Australia

In Australia, over 1.6 million employees are covered by domestic and family violence clauses in their Enterprise Bargaining Agreements or Awards. Organisations with domestic and family violence policies include universities, federal and state public sector agencies and private sector companies including Telstra, Virgin Australia and some banks.

The University of New South Wales' Gendered Violence Research Network hosts a Gendered Violence and Work programme. This replaces the previous 'Safe at Home, Safe at Work' programme, which initiated much of the work in this area in Australia.

Building effective policies and services to promote women’s economic security following domestic violence: State of knowledge paper (ANROWS, 2015). This paper identifies the need to make economic issues primary components of domestic violence prevention and responses, and to ensure income support, employment, housing, financial, legal and other systems work more effectively together to prevent, identify and respond to the economic tactics and impacts of domestic violence.

USA

VAWnet, The National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women, has a Special Collection: Employment and Domestic Violence. It includes a carefully selected set of articles, fact sheets, guides, laws, regulations, reports and surveys related to this important intersection of domestic violence and employment.