Domestic violence cost could reach $15.6bn annually
Collaborative, coordinated response with business needed: Deloitte report
25 November 2015: Government, community and business must work together to prevent the economic cost of Australia’s domestic and family violence burden rising to $15.6 billion annually by 2021/2022, according to a new report by Deloitte Access Economics.
Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show an estimated 800,000 women in the national workforce have experienced domestic violence or are currently experiencing it, says the Deloitte report titled Change for a better future, addressing domestic and family violence together: The role of business.
Speaking at the launch of the report in Brisbane, Deloitte National Leader for Health Economics and Social Policy, Lynne Pezzullo said: “Domestic and family violence is a critical issue for Australia with one in six women and one in nineteen men impacted by physical or sexual violence since the age of 15.
“We produced this report “Change for a Better Future” as a roadmap for what can be done by businesses. We also very much support the Male Champions of Change call to action earlier this month to get involved and echo the point Non-Executive Director Lieutenant General David Morrison (Retired), made: ‘It’s absolutely on everyone in the workplace, but especially on those who lead it, to do something about it; to listen without judgment – to ask, not why does she not leave, but why does he not stop?”
Deloitte Australia’s CEO Cindy Hook, who is a special adviser to the Male Champions of Change said: “We will achieve progress when government, business and communities work collaboratively to address Domestic and Family Violence. As business leaders, we have an important role to play in addressing this national issue.”
Queensland Minister for Communities and Women Shannon Fentiman congratulated Deloitte on its efforts to put domestic and family violence prevention on its agenda. “This comprehensive report shows us what many forward-thinking businesses are already seeing – that domestic and family violence doesn’t just impact people’s home lives, it affects workplaces too,” Ms Fentiman said.
“Ninety five percent of women stalked by violent partners experienced harassment at work. Between one quarter and one half of women subjected to domestic violence report losing a job, at least in part due to the violence.
“It is fantastic to see many businesses now recognising what a critical role they can play to help tackle this scourge on our society. Workplaces should be a place where victims are supported and employees know what to do if they suspect a colleague is experiencing domestic or family violence.”
Cindy Hook said. “At Deloitte we are determined to actively drive change and play our part in reducing the prevalence and impact of domestic and family violence. We have a number of initiatives underway including providing Rosie Batty with support to establish the Luke Batty Foundation and asking former Army chief, David Morrison, a consultant to Deloitte, to play a leadership role as he did in the army with the successful White Ribbon accreditation program, and raise awareness of domestic and family violence as a workplace issue with us at Deloitte.”
Ms Pezzullo said: “Currently the activities addressing domestic and family violence in Australia are quite fragmented and mostly government focussed. We wholeheartedly support a collaborative and integrated approach to addressing domestic and family violence, with a focus on preventive actions and activities. The roles of government, service providers and the community are clearly established – however the role of business is less clear.”
Why domestic and family violence is a workplace issue
The report’s principal author Natasha Doherty, Director in Deloitte Access Economics said: “Business organisations can help enormously by working to create environments where those needing support feel safe. In fact for many the workplace may be their only safe haven during the day.
“Domestic and family violence can and does have a significant impact on attendance at work, on performance, safety and wellbeing. Violence impacts the survivors, the perpetrators, their communities, their employers and their co-workers.”
“The costs to business comprise of absenteeism (all employees), using work resources and time to be abusive (perpetrators), and being less productive due to distraction, anxiety, or tension (victims, co-workers),” Ms Doherty explained.
Guidelines for a business plan
The Deloitte report includes guidelines for every business to develop a plan to address domestic and family violence including:
- Starting the conversation in workplaces – make it clear domestic and family violence is a workplace issue with economic factors a major influence on women’s choices
- Providing support – discuss affected employees short and long-term needs and check in regularly
- Flexible work arrangements – allow leave for women who are affected
- Policy development – create policies that support survivors, as well as reaching those who may be perpetrators
- Education – create workplace awareness and open channels for employees to respond
Other Deloitte activities include:
- Holding a series of national events to position Domestic and Family Violence as a workplace issue.
- Supporting these events with a suite of resources including a Domestic and Family Violence policy, a managers’ guide and a Domestic and Family Violence page on the intranet for employees’ reference.
- Running pilot awareness training for Partners and People & Performance (HR) Directors.
- Launching the program nationally with People & Performance teams and key partner contacts to raise education and preparedness in relation to domestic and family violence incidents.
Workforce related costs associated with domestic and family violence include:
- Reduced productivity of the survivor due to reduced workforce participation and/or ‘presenteeism’
- Absenteeism of the survivor, perpetrator and family members
- Cost of replacing lost output through overtime by other workers
- Reduced productivity of survivors’ and perpetrators’ co-workers, friends and family
- Loss of unpaid household and voluntary work by the survivor, perpetrator, and family and friends.
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