Singleton Council is leading the way for local government in the Hunter Region, with the introduction of a package of initiatives designed to protect and support its employees impacted by domestic and family violence.
In addition to up to 10 days of paid leave for employees directly affected for legal assistance, court appearances, relocation and counselling, the staff support package also includes:
General Manager Jason Linnane said safety was “the number one priority and the foundation of all work performed by Council,” and keeping employees safe extends beyond work to home.
“As a major employer in Singleton, we recognise our community responsibility to help address this issue,” he said.
“With one in three women affected by physical violence, and one in four experiencing physical or sexual violence from the age of 15 - it’s terrifying that these are the sorts of statistics alive in modern Australia.
“At Singleton Council, over 50% of our staff are female, 50% of our leadership team are female, 50% of our elected Council are female, and we have a female mayor. As an organisation, we fly the flag for equality and this is another really great example of how we can continue to support the women in our lives by tackling one of Australia’s hidden issues.
“We are really proud to be leading from the front by offering this package to our employees - but hope that no one has to use it.”
To deliver the new program, Singleton Council has partnered with Singleton Family Support to roll out training to the entire organisation.
Manager of Singleton Family Support, Lindsay Rutherford said it is really exciting to see local government make the issue a priority.
“It’s really quite ground-breaking in the sense that it’s often private business that provide their employees experiencing violence paid leave, so for us it’s a huge step towards where we want to go in supporting affected people in our community and eliminating it,” she said.
“There is so much shame associated with domestic violence, which prevents people from seeking support - so to have a full organisation trained with the skills to manage the situation, it enables an environment for victims to feel safe.”
Singleton Council began rolling out training yesterday to all staff to equip them with the skills to recognise and respond to issues of family and domestic violence in the workplace.
“Together we are taking a stand in saying domestic violence is never okay, and we are going to support our people affected by it. Ultimately, what we want is for people to understand what domestic violence is, how to identify it and how to help stop it,” Mr Linnane said.