What is family and domestic violence?

DCA uses the term domestic and family violence to describe violence that occurs between intimate partners and family members as it’s the most accessible and relevant term for workplaces.

Under the Fair Work Act 2009,  family and domestic violence means violent, threatening or other abusive behaviour by an employee’s close relative that:

  • seeks to coerce or control the employee,
  • causes them harm or fear.

A close relative is:

  • an employee’s:
    • spouse or former spouse
    • de facto partner or former de facto partner
    • child
    • parent
    • grandparent
    • grandchild
    • sibling
  • an employee’s current or former spouse or de facto partner’s child, parent, grandparent, grandchild or sibling, or
  • a person related to the employee according to Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander kinship rules. 

Family and domestic violence is a gendered issue

DCA recognises the importance of understanding the gendered nature of domestic and family violence. We note that domestic and family violence is overwhelmingly perpetrated by men against women and represents a large proportion of violence against women in Australia.

Not all violence against women is domestic and family violence, and not all domestic and family violence is violence against women.

Why is family and domestic violence a workplace issue?

  • People in our workplaces are experiencing domestic and family violence. According to the ABS two thirds of women experiencing violence from a current partner are employed. Given the prevalence of domestic and family violence in the community, it is likely that many people who use domestic or family violence are also employed and in our workplaces.
  • It is a workplace health and safety issue. About one in five Australian workers experiencing domestic and family violence report the violence continuing into the workplace (see Gendered Violence Research Network, Safe at Home, Safe at Work? National Domestic Violence and the Workplace Survey 2011). If a perpetrator harasses or stalks a person at their workplace, it can put the employee and their co-workers in danger.
  • It can impact workplace productivity. Employees using or experiencing family or domestic violence might be more likely to take unplanned days off, arrive late or finish early. When they’re at work, they might also be less effective carrying out their work because they’re distracted, anxious or lack energy. Domestic and family violence can also cause individuals to leave the workplace, increasing staff turnover rates.
  • Workplaces have a unique role in prevention of domestic and family violence.: Workplaces are one of the social settings in which we spend majority of our lives. Workplaces can therefore contribute to the prevention of domestic and family violence by raising awareness, challenging sexist attitudes and behaviour, reinforcing gender equality, modelling respectful relationships, as well as providing a safe space from violence, and a crucial source of social and economic support to people experiencing violence.

DCA members can login for state of play data, definitions of other key terms and to learn more about the gendered drivers of violence against women.

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