We learn more about Challenge DV, an organisation working to support employers with their role in eliminating violence against women, thanks to our partnership with Family Friendly Workplaces.
When family members and colleagues discussed family and domestic violence with Keith Tracey-Patte, he concedes that he would struggle to understand how he could actually make a difference.
But he decided that as “a middle aged white man” he needed to do more research and figure out how to get involved.
He spent decades in social policy and eventually became CEO of Challenge DV, a social enterprise on a mission to end domestic and family violence.
Through workplace programs, Challenge DV empowers businesses to be part of the solution by educating managers and staff to recognise the signs of domestic and family violence and respond appropriately.
They have worked with some of the largest employers in Australia, including the Queensland Government, Minter Ellison, Transport NSW and QBE Insurance.
Tracey-Patte says that while there is not enough data on how many DV perpetrators are in the community, we know that these people are going to be in the workplace – along with victim-survivors.
Challenge DV teaches people that there are individual things each of us can do, whether it’s through a more direct HR role or in watching out for signs that a person in the workplace isn’t acting like themselves.
“A lot of the work that I’m really personally passionate about, is engaging with other men about getting them to stand up and take personal action,” says Tracey-Patte.
When it comes to helping employers to understand the reality and prevalence of domestic violence, and the fact there are likely perpetrators and victim-survivors in their workforces, Tracey-Patte always starts with the facts.
“The second that we say this is an issue of violence against women, the men in the room – or a large chunk of them at list – will go, ‘but what about the men?’,” he says.
“So, starting with the statistics, we talk about the fact that yes, violence and abuse happens to men, women and children, right across the gender identity spectrum, but it is overwhelmingly impacting women.”
Last year, Challenge DV took an important step in making sure that women are safe in the workplace by partnering with Family Friendly Workplaces, enabling Challenge DV to support organisations wanting support in creating effective policies for doing so as well as incorporating workplace training.
“Creating a safe workplace is a legal obligation. And then it’s also something that’s really powerful,” he says.
“This is the whole family, friendly workplaces ethos that people will want to work for you if you are a safe and inclusive workplace.”
Additionally, research has shown that creating a safe workplace environment is good for business and revenue.
Back in 2016, KPMG conducted a study estimated that about $2 billion in direct business costs was being lost as a result of family and domestic violence, says Tracey-Patte, adding that this doesn’t even include sexual harassment’s negative effects.
And while workplace training for DV prevention can save a business from lost productivity revenue, Tracey-Patte says it is also “a really powerful way to drive change in society, because the expectations of behaviour in the workplace tend to go back out into the communities, expectations and attitudes that we all carry into our daily lives.”
Citing an eye opening 2011 attitude survey, Tracey-Patte says that about half of all people identified as having been affected by domestic and family violence struggled to get to work every day, and when they were there, trauma significantly affected their productivity.
It shows that workplaces have a positive obligation to create a safe and inclusive environment in all different types of spaces as well, considering that impacts of family and domestic violence can be found in any sector.
“We’re saying businesses should be investing in their people, and they should be investing in their communities to prevent violence as leaders,” says Tracey-Patte.
“If we can change the behaviours of people in our workplaces and in our peer groups, over time the attitudes about what is acceptable and not acceptable will shift as well.”
Check out more from our series profiling family-friendly certified employers here.
By Brianna Boecker
First published by Women’s Agenda