–Public service leaders pledge to confront domestic violence and do more to help victims

November 25, 2017

On White Ribbon Day, the Australian Public Service’s departmental secretaries affirm our commitment to addressing domestic and family violence within our workplaces.

Domestic violence takes many forms. It is a crime of power and control. It is inexcusable in any form and should never be trivialised.

We understand that, while there is complexity to the underlying drivers of this violence, more often than not it is driven by gender inequality. While men do experience domestic and family violence and sexual assault, the evidence shows that most victims are women. Both men and women are three times more likely to be assaulted by a man than a woman.

We acknowledge that the victims, perpetrators and witnesses of this crime are within our workforce. According to current statistics, almost one in three Australian women over the age of 15 will experience physical violence, and one in five will experience sexual violence.

These are dreadful statistics, yet they tell only part of the story. These experiences are accompanied by both physical and emotional trauma that can last well beyond the time of the offence.

Australian government departments have developed domestic violence policies and/or guidance. These policies were developed to give staff affected by violence the reassurance that flexible and timely support is available.

Through our workplace responses to domestic violence, the APS secretaries are contributing to the integrated responses to this issue being pursued through the COAG under The National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children 2010‑2022. This approach is also reflected in the development aid we provide to countries in our regions.

In September, secretaries from across the APS met to consider how to improve support for staff affected by this crime. We agreed to explore ways to better support staff who are exposed to (or witness) this crime, both in person and through secondary exposure, including from client-facing activities. We also considered how workplaces could engage with staff who use, or may use, violence, to support behavioural change.

As leaders, we know our actions, by example, set the standard for our staff’s behaviour. We understand the boundaries between work and personal life are not absolute. We also acknowledge that we play a role in reinforcing respectful behaviours and relationships.

Given the well-documented prevalence and harm it causes, reducing the occurrence of domestic and family violence is a pressing national issue that we, as leaders, will address. We hope you will join us in committing to supporting respectful relationships in the workplace and in your community.

Martin Parkinson – Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

John Lloyd – Australian Public Service Commission

Chris Moraitis – Attorney-General’s Department

Daryl Quinlivan – Department of Agriculture and Water Resources

Mike Mrdak – Department of Communications and the Arts

Greg Moriarty – Department of Defence

Michele Bruniges – Department of Education and Training

Kerri Hartland – Department of Employment

Rosemary Huxtable – Department of Finance

Frances Adamson – Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Glenys Beauchamp – Department of Health

Renée Leon – Department of Human Services

Michael Pezzullo – Department of Immigration and Border Protection

Heather Smith – Department of Industry, Innovation and Science

Steven Kennedy – Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development

Kathryn Campbell – Department of Social Services

Finn Pratt – Department of the Environment and Energy

Simon Lewis – Department of Veterans’ Affairs

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