Challenging sexism, discrimination and violence against women
Together we can reduce the rates of violence in our community, starting in the workplace.
Act@Work is an organisation-wide cultural-change program for workplaces.
Violence in the context of this program is defined as any act of gender-based activity that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual, or psychological harm or suffering to women. It can also include spiritual and financial abuse, using intimidation, threats and isolation. Preventing violence against women requires changing cultural beliefs and attitudes that support it: gender inequality, rigid gender roles and stereotypes, sexism and discrimination. The program aims to promote equal and respectful relationships between women and men.
WHG is taking expressions of interest for Act@Work
Currently 10 local organisations have committed/undertaken the workplace based program (4 complete; 6 in progress)
- Ballarat Community Health
- The Courier
- Ararat Rural City Council
- AME Systems (Ararat)
- Victorian Government Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning
- Victorian Government Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Training and Resources
- Golden Plains Shire Council
- Hepburn Health Service
- City of Ballarat
- Vic Roads – Western Region alliance
- 2,700+ employees in workplaces have participated in the program
- Estimated 2,700+ families touched by the workplace-based program
Women’s Health Grampians would like to acknowledge the Act@Work Program was developed with funding provided by the Victorian Government Department of Justice and Regulation and acknowledge our partners during the development process: CAFS, WRISC and the City of Ballarat.
- Why Violence Against Women?
- one in three women aged 15 years or older have experienced physical violence
- approximately one in five women experience sexual violence.1
Violence against women is most likely to be perpetrated by a male person who is known to the woman; more specifically a current or former intimate partner. Of all Australian women physically assaulted in the last 12 months:
- 38% were assaulted by a current or previous intimate male partner
- 34% by another known male friend or family member and
- 18% of assaults were perpetrated by a stranger[i]
In Victoria, for women aged 15 – 44 years, violence is the greatest contributor to ill health and premature death, and has the most damaging effect on health, more damaging than other known risk factors such as smoking and obesity .[ii] In the workplace, the costs of violence against women are significant. By 2021 – 2022, intimate partner violence alone is projected to cost the Australian economy $15.6 billion annually, of which $456 million will be borne by employers.[iii] For more information about the rates and prevalence of violence against women in the Grampians region please refer to Violence against Women in the Grampians region – Policy, initiatives and a snapshot of data_December 2012.
[i] Australian Bureau of Statistics (2006). Personal Safety Survey (Reissue). Retrieved January 10, 2012, from: http://www.ausstats.abs.gov.au/Ausstats/subscriber.nsf/0/056A404DAA576AE6CA2571D00080E985/$File/49060_2005%20(reissue).pdf
[ii] The National Council to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children (2009). The cost of violence against women and their children. Retrieved January 10, 2012, from: http://www.dss.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/05_2012/vawc_economic_report.pdf
[iii] VicHealth (2004). The health costs of violence: measuring the burden of disease caused by domestic violence. Melbourne: VicHealth
- Why Act@Work?
Workplaces are an important part of people’s lives and they need to be safe. They are increasingly prominent sites for violence prevention and intervention. While most strategies focus on responses to victimisation, a growing number of organisations also engage in activities designed to prevent men’s violence against women. Workplaces can also be a site for social change and can be used as a catalyst for reaching men and women.
Workplaces can unintentionally contribute to violence against women in three ways:
- Workplace gender inequalities – including unfair divisions of labour and power and norms of male dominance – which contribute to women’s economic and social disadvantage and men’s privilege. Workplaces thus can intensify the wider gender inequalities in which violence against women flourishes.
- Workplace culture – can encourage and institutionalise violence-supportive social norms. Women in these institutions, or in contact with their members, face greater risks of victimisation, and the male members are more likely than other men to tolerate and perpetrate violence.
- Workplace responses to women experiencing violence – workforces can contribute to violence against women through the ways in which they respond to employees who are victims of violence or its perpetrators.
Workplaces have the potential to influence both their internal cultures and the communities which surround them. By changing policies, practices and culture, an organisation can not only change from within, but also have an impact in surrounding communities, serve as an example for other organisations, influences wider policy and inform community norms.
(Davis et al, 2006, extracted from whiteribbon.org.au)
- Benefits for Workplaces
Benefits for workplaces undertaking Act@Work
Evidence suggests that workplaces that take on health promotion activities will have happier and healthier employees and workplace cultures, will be able to attract the best people, and will increase their productivity (Vichealth, 2012). There is also strong evidence to suggest that there is a link between gender equality at an organisational level and corporate performance. This relates to business functions such as recruitment and retention of staff, minimisation of legal and reputational risk, as well as improving access to markets (www.wgea.gov.au ).
Businesses and organisations will also experience benefits in the following ways:
Workplace culture that supports respectful relationships
- Safer workplaces; free from all forms of violence, discrimination and sexism
- Respectful workplace behaviours; employees knowing when and how to intervene, and resolve conflicts
- Policies and procedures that reflect gender equity for both men and women
- Greater engagement and boosted staff morale
- Support and information available to staff who may be experiencing, or have experienced, family violence
Corporate Social Responsibility
- Provide regional leadership in creating healthier and safer communities
- Intentionally create a socially responsible workplace
- Improve reporting regarding workplace gender equity
Influence and impact in your industry
- Differentiate your business in the market as a leader in preventing violence against women
- How can I Act@Work?
The Act@Work program is a comprehensive, organisation-wide, cultural change program. It requires support at leadership level, the formation of an internal Action Group, an organisational assessment, the development and implementation of an action plan (suited specifically to your organisation), and periodic ongoing review. Actions to ensure the ongoing sustainability of the program form part of the action plan. Actions are selected by the internal Action group and are based on the World Health Organisation’s healthy workplace model, identifying activity across four key areas:
- Workplace culture – Leadership, policies, procedures and accepted norms of behaviour
- Physical environment – The physical working environment and setting
- Community connections – Partnerships and links to the community
- Health and wellbeing opportunities – Information and resources to support workers
The program takes approximately 6 – 12 months to implement, depending on the organisation.
This proposal describes the background to the program, provides information on Women’s Health Grampians and outlines the costs associated with providing the program.
To find out more about Act@Work please contact the project team on 03 5322 4100 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Act@Work Evaluation Results
The Act@Work Program – is it effective?
This program was developed and piloted in 8 workplaces between 2012 -15 with funding from the Department of Justice and Regulation. Detailed, independent evaluation found there were substantial shifts in employees’ understanding of workplace and social behaviours that contribute to a culture of inequality and violence against women after completing the program.
WHG have created a short Act@Work Evaluation Overview
The full evaluation report for Act@Work prepared by Springtech Services is available on the Department of Justice and Regulation website.
- Act@Work Resources
Act@Work resources and merchandise is available though the Act@Work portal and by contacting WHG staff on 53224100 or email: email@example.com
Act@Work Video clips
Act@Work video clips are available on our Youtube channel please see the examples below
Act@Work Posters to download:
- For help and assistance
If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, please click here and you will be redirected to our Useful Links page for a list of organisations and services which can help you.