Businesses’ role in addressing domestic abuse

Business has a role in addressing domestic abuse – DCA Oration with Jess Hill

Walkey award-winning investigative journalist and author of a landmark text about Australia’s domestic and family violence and abuse epidemic, Jess Hill, will address business leaders about their role in addressing the complex issue of domestic abuse.

Ms Hill is giving this address at Diversity Council Australia’s annual thought-leading event, the Anna McPhee Memorial Oration on Diversity & Inclusion in Melbourne.

More than two million women in Australia have experienced sexual or physical violence from an intimate partner.

Diversity Council Australia recognises workplaces have a vital role to play in addressing domestic abuse and supporting employees who are being abused.

In her speech, Ms Hill will highlight the complexities of domestic and family violence and abuse ask her audience, ‘if domestic abuse is everyone’s business, then what role does business have in countering it’?

Domestic and family violence policy – case study – DCA

“Domestic abuse can be an incredibly complex issue to confront, particularly inside a workplace,” Ms Hill will say.

“Yet, for many victim survivors, the majority of whom are employed, their workplace may be the only place they feel safe, and where they still have close, supportive connections.

“It’s vital that, as businesses apply themselves to becoming part of the solution, we develop a far more nuanced understanding of how they can help.

“A single intervention or workplace policy are not enough to give an employee the strength, support and safety they need.

“As colleagues, as managers – as friends – we must be alert to the signs that someone is in danger and we must be willing not just to intervene, but ally with them.

“Speaking up and showing our colleagues daily acts of care and concern, reminding them of their worth and modelling the respect they are denied by their abusers can literally be the difference between life and death.”

Quotes attributable to DCA, CEO, Lisa Annese:  

Ahead of the oration, DCA CEO Lisa Annese said employers had a pivotal role in addressing domestic violence and abuse.

“Workplaces are one of the places where we spend a large part of our lives, yet some businesses are still reluctant to actively address domestic and family violence and abuse,” Ms Annese said.

“Workplaces are a crucial source of social and economic support to people experiencing violence and employers are responsible for ensuring their workplaces are safe from violence and abuse.

“Employers have a pivotal role in raising awareness of domestic and family violence and abuse and its impact on people who experience it, challenging sexist attitudes and behaviour, reinforcing gender equality and modelling respectful relationships.

“Research shows employees living with or using, domestic and family violence and abuse will impact the workplace through lost productivity, unplanned days off and the cost of replacement hiring when it causes individuals to leave their job.

“Therefore, not addressing domestic and family violence as a workplace issue costs Australian employers and is estimated to add up to $1.9 billion a year,” Ms Annese said.

Ms Annese said Commonwealth Bank was a fantastic example of a business that is providing support to the community through CommBank Next Chapter.

“The work CommBank is doing to help anyone who is financially controlled, tracked or abused, is such an important example of Australian organisations can use their influence to address one of the most confronting issues of our time. This program can have a long-term impact on victims and survivors,” said Ms Annese.

Quotes attributable to Commonwealth Bank Group Executive, Human Resources, Sian Lewis: 

As part of CommBank Next Chapter, the bank is working with experts to increase the community and industry understanding of financial abuse perpetrated through domestic and family violence (DFV), and to help victim-survivors achieve long-term financial independence.

CommBank Group Executive Human Resources, Sian Lewis said: “We know financial abuse is having a serious and significant impact on people.

“Research we conducted, in conjunction with Deloitte, revealed that more than 623,000 Australians were subjected to financial abuse in 2020, with the direct cost to victims estimated to be $5.7 billion.

“This is something we want to change, and improving awareness and understanding of this issue is critical to creating that change.

“Through CommBank Next Chapter not only are we working to help shed light on this hidden epidemic but we also want to help provide the right support and services for victim-survivors, regardless of who they bank with.

“CommBank Next Chapter also extends to our people. As one of Australia’s largest employers, it is our responsibility to support our people when they need it the most.

“That’s why we offer any employee who is impacted by domestic and family violence unlimited paid leave and five days paid leave for any employee assisting a family member or friend who is impacted.

“We have also introduced ‘Respect Lives Here’, an initiative that will help us develop a shared understanding of respectful and disrespectful behaviours and the practical actions we can take to ensure respect lives at CommBank. It builds on our long-standing commitment to creating an inclusive workplace for all our people, which sits at the heart of addressing issues like domestic and family violence.

“A big part of addressing issues like domestic and family violence is ensuring that we’re talking about it openly and using our platform at the bank to bring awareness to the issue of financial abuse in particular.

“We can’t expect change unless we raise awareness and improve our understanding of these issues and how we – collectively as a community – can provide better support, both from a prevention and a recovery standpoint. Now more than ever is the time for individuals, business, the community and government to come together to shine a light on this issue.”


Media Contact: Sonia Kohlbacher, 02 7209 9080,

Diversity Council Australia is the independent not-for-profit peak body leading diversity and inclusion in the workplace. We provide unique research, inspiring events and programs, curated resources and expert advice across all diversity dimensions to a community of 1000 member organisations. Our member organisations are estimated to employ nearly two million Australians, representing about 20% of the workforce.

DCA’s Myth Busting Domestic and Family Violence at Work report draws on evidence to debunk common myths and provide Australian businesses with tools and resources to become leaders in prevention.

Commonwealth Bank Australia sponsors the DCA Oration as part of CommBank Next Chapter, providing free and confidential one-on-one financial coaching tools and assistance for anyone who is financially controlled, tracked or abused – no matter who they bank with.