Act@Work to help prevent violence against women

Leading Change breakfast guest speakers, North Melbourne Football Club assistant coach Darren Crocker, Minister for Community Services Mary Wooldridge and Chief Commissioner Ken Lay at the Ararat Performing Arts Centre.

Leading Change breakfast guest speakers, North Melbourne Football Club assistant coach Darren Crocker, Minister for Community Services Mary Wooldridge and Chief Commissioner Ken Lay at the Ararat Performing Arts Centre.

A SIGNIFICANT point that the more than 130 people who attended last Thursday morning's Leading Change Breakfast in Ararat were reminded about was that violence against women is preventable.

While many gasped at figures that one in five women have experienced sexual violence since the age of 15 and one in three women have experienced physical violence since the age of 15, they were also surprised by the impact on business and industry.

Violence against women costs the Australian economy $13.6 billion annually and that cost is expected to rise to $15.6 billion in 2020/21.

It is costing businesses and corporations $1.5 billion annually.

Women's Health Grampians has taken the proactive step to develop and implement Act@Work, a project aiming to build healthier workplaces with a culture of respect and non-violence, by encouraging workers to speak up.

The organisation is already working with AME Systems and Ararat Rural City Council to introduce the program and stamp out behaviour that facilitates disrespect for women.

Women's Health Grampians CEO, Patty Kinnersly said it is a shared responsibility to prevent violence against women.

"The campaign to reduce violence against women is in fact an achievable call to action to rid our community of the sexism and discrimination that devalues women and ultimately leads to violence against women," she said.

"This call to action, like all successful community campaigns will take time and it needs committed champions."

Act@Work is designed to help businesses and organisations build capacity, develop policies and procedures, and provide the practical tools employees need to play a role in preventing violence against women and children.

It is helping businesses and organisations with practical tools to challenge sexism, discrimination and violence against women.

Act@Work aims to increase organisations knowledge of sexism, discrimination and violence against women; awareness of the impacts of these behaviours and the costs of not taking action and develop individual's and workplace's skills to take action to intervene safely and effectively the message to employees is that they are part of the solution.

Ms Kinnersly said the contributions of high profile influential individuals including Chief Commissioner Ken Lay and former North Melbourne footballer Darren Crocker shouldn't go unnoticed.

"They are significant because they hold key positions of community and public leadership, but even more importantly in this context, they are people who have taken on the issue of violence against women, they have spoken about it strongly and often each of them have backed up their verbal commitment with vigour and significant action," she said.

Funded until November 2015, the Act@Work project is working with a further two workplaces across the Central Highlands Region.

The ground breaking project has been funded under the Reducing Violence Against Women and their Children grants program, part of the Victorian Government's Community Crime Prevention Program.

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