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Salvos launch Family & Domestic Violence Support policy for employees on White Ribbon Day

On White Ribbon Day, The Salvation Army Australia Southern Territory launched a Family and Domestic Violence Support policy for its employees. With over 4,500 employees across Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory, The Salvation Army is one of the largest not-for-profits to put in place such a policy. 

The policy provides comprehensive paid leave, flexible working arrangements and employee assistance programs for employees who are in or are seeking to remove themselves from a family or domestic violence situation. Employees actively supporting an immediate family member experiencing family or domestic violence are also supported. 

“The Salvation Army look after people in the community who find themselves in a family and domestic violence situation, so we wanted to be able to provide our employees with the same care,” explains Sue Chamberlain-Ward, Human Resources Consultant. 

Family and domestic violence is an abuse of power by a partner, ex-partner or family member. It takes many forms including intimidation, control, isolation and emotional, physical, sexual, financial or spiritual abuse. 

Both men and women can experience family and domestic violence, but nearly one in six women in Australia (16%) has experienced violence by a current or previous partner. 

According to Safe at Home, Safe at Work (a University of NSW domestic violence project) about two-thirds of women who experience violence are in paid employment. These women have a more disrupted work history, are on lower personal incomes, have had to change jobs frequently and are very often employed in casual and part time work than women with no experience of violence. Access Economics estimates that family and domestic violence costs the Australian community $13.8 billion each year. 

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The Salvation Army is also one of the largest providers of family violence services in Australia.

In the last 12 months, The Salvation Army Australia has supported over 6,000 clients through its Family and Domestic Violence accommodation and support services.

The Salvation Army provides 39 women’s homelessness programs accounting for one quarter of all Salvation Army centres nationally.

Salvation Army data indicates that first time presentations within Family and Domestic Violence services increased by 13 per cent in the quarter ending September 2013, and this increase is particularly high in Victoria due to proactive positive changes in state based legislation.

In the Safe at Home, Safe at Work 2011 survey of over 3,600 respondents:

  • Nearly half those who had experienced family and domestic violence reported that the violence affected their capacity to get to work, the major reason was physical injury or restraint (67%), followed by hiding keys and/or other parent failing to care for children.
  • Nearly one in five employees experienced continued violence in the workplace, with the majority being harassed by abusive phone calls and emails.

The policy will help people effectively deal with all the issues that come up around family and domestic violence, such as attending court, meeting lawyers, visiting specialised family violence services, attending medical appointments or moving house. It enables employees to remain in employment while they deal with their issues, which is enormously beneficial in enabling people to get through their family and domestic violence situations.

The Salvation Army Australia Southern Territory Territorial Commander Commissioner Floyd Tidd said, “Our core concern, our very heart, is for the long-term safety and growth of our employees and their families.”

“We firmly believe that it is time for The Salvation Army to act decisively, to support our employees who may be in domestic violence situations, and to offer real solutions that enable people to move forward.”

[1] Safe at Home, Safe at Work? National Domestic Violence and Workplace Survey (2011) Australian Domestic and Family Violence Clearinghouse and the Commonwealth Department of Employment, Education and Workplace Relations.