The Housing Trust is the first business in the Illawarra to be awarded White Ribbon Workplace Accreditation, making it a leader in domestic violence prevention and response. The only other local organisations to achieve this recognition are the NSW Police and a government department.

The Accreditation demonstrates that the Housing Trust is a safe, respectful and supportive workplace which has benefits for their clients and the broader community as well as their staff. A new policy provides staff experiencing domestic violence with 10 days of special leave to help leave violent relationships. This is a vital support given research by the Australian Council of Trade Unions estimates the average cost of leaving a violent relationship is $18,000 and 141 hours.

 

For an organisation like The Housing Trust, the tools and learning provided in the White Ribbon program enable staff to identify and challenge inappropriate behaviour both inside and outside of the organisation.

Housing Trust CEO Michele Adair said the internationally recognised accreditation was the result of 18 months of development across all staffing levels.

“Gaining White Ribbon accreditation takes a whole of organisation commitment to stop violence against women and our staff have embraced the strategies and training we have put in place during the past year,” she said.

“We are committed to taking active steps to stop violence against women using the White Ribbon Australia principles and it starts in the workplace. If we can ensure our staff are supported and encouraged to develop and build on existing gender equality practices, we can then provide increasingly effective service to the community we work within.

“Statistical evidence indicates that one in three women will experience violence in their lifetime. Think about the women in your workplace and crunch the numbers.

“If we start by equipping staff with the knowledge and skills to address the issue of violence against women and employ that knowledge in our daily work life, the benefits are quantifiable. If we can then take those same skills and use them effectively within the community, the cumulative effect over time is astronomical.

“By employing this program today, we are helping to mitigate the harm domestic violence causes tomorrow and, ultimately, working to end violence in the future.”

 

White Ribbon Australia Program Manager Ronan Smith said the accreditation, which lasts for three years, is designed to support all employees in challenging inappropriate behaviour.

“Violence against women is a serious, prevalent and preventable issue in Australia,” he said.

“Violence against women – whether it occurs in or beyond the workplace – impacts on the health and safety of employees, their wellbeing and their productivity.  It impacts negatively on workplace culture, organisational reputation and bottom-line profit and loss.

“Organisations like The Housing Trust which are actively taking steps to address the issue are to be commended for their efforts.”