Strengthening Family and Domestic Violence Support

13 Jul 2020

Viva Energy Australia today announced an update to its Family and Domestic Violence Support Policy to further assist employees who are victims of family and domestic violence abuse at home. 

Viva Energy Australia CEO, Scott Wyatt said that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was no doubt that Australian households and individuals would be experiencing higher levels of stress, financial uncertainty, and health concerns.

“In Australia between 55% and 70% of women who have experienced or are currently experiencing family and domestic violence are in the paid workforce,” Mr Wyatt said. 

“Although family and domestic violence doesn’t just impact women, sadly they are overwhelmingly the vast majority of victims.

“A workplace may well be the safest place a victim of domestic violence may have, and every employer needs to play an important role in providing support and getting the help victims need, “Mr Wyatt said.  

Announced under an updated policy, Viva Energy employees who may be experiencing family and domestic violence will be able to access ten days paid leave for the purpose of attending medical appointments, legal proceedings, seeking safe housing or other activities related to dealing with family/domestic violence. 

The company is also providing direct financial assistance up to $2,500 to help with any costs, support changes to hours of work and other flexible working arrangements, and help with access to confidential support services.  

In a recent study Responding to the ‘Shadow Pandemic’ ,published by Monash University measuring the early impacts of COVID-19 on domestic violence,  front-line family violence support practitioners across Victoria found that the pandemic had increased the frequency of violence against women, and that the number of first-time family violence reports had gone up for 42% of the respondents.

The study also identified that in addition to increased risks to women’s safety posed by pandemic control measures, many workforces that support women experiencing violence have been required to rapidly transition to remote work, disrupting support services during a time of heightened risk.

Mr Wyatt said through his affiliation with the Male Champions of Change  initiative, he would be sharing Viva Energy’s policy approach with industry peers to drive meaningful change in reducing the prevalence of family and domestic violence in the broader community. 

Male Champions of Change includes 230 men and women CEO and Board-level leaders focused on achieving gender equality and advancing more women into leadership. The group has had a long-term focus on how workplaces can respond to the scourge of domestic and family violence in Australia. 

“By raising awareness and leading change, employers can play their part in helping improve the lives and safety of women and children in our community, and more generally make Australia a better place to live,” Mr Wyatt said.