Leading the way in workplace equality

Connections UnitingCare has been selected to take part in a pilot program aimed at preventing violence against women.

The Workplace Equality and Respect project was launched on Wednesday 24 August by Fiona Richardson, Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence and Minister for Women. It is being led by Our Watch, a not-for-organisation established to drive nationwide change in the culture, behaviours and attitudes that lead to violence against women and children.

The project will see Our Watch develop workplace guidelines to prevent violence against women. This includes promoting women’s participation and opportunities, challenging gender roles and encouraging respectful, healthy and equal relationships.

Connections is the only community organistion and not-for-profit selected to take part. The other organisations are La Trobe University, North Melbourne Football Club and Carlton Football Club.

Trish Chapman, acting CEO of Connections, said the organisation is excited to participate in the pilot.

“Core to the philosophy of our programs is that we believe we have an absolute commitment to prevent violence against women, and consequently, children,” she said.

“We think, as a community service organisation with a strong reputation in the community, we can use our status and our influence to enter into public conversations about preventing violence against women and support a workplace where we have conversations about gender equality.”

Ms Chapman said it was important gender equality is carried through from their community programs into the workplace environment.

“We help staff make the link between gender equality and preventing violence to women,” she said.

“We spend a lot of time in the workplace and I think it will be true to say that people take on the culture, norms and values of their organisation both in their professional lives and private lives too. Therefore our staff are able to take back the notions of gender equality into their everyday lives and consequently into communities in which they live.”

Under the pilot, each participating organisation will assess its own performance and come up with a series of actions and benchmarks to help it improve. This includes examining how its workplace reinforces gender stereotypes, whose voices are prioritised in decision-making, whether there are flexible workplace policies for both parents and how comfortable staff feel in raising concerns.

Our Watch CEO Mary Barry said tackling structural discrimination and disadvantage at work can be a catalyst for wider cultural change in the community.

“Workplaces are a key setting for the prevention of violence against women, not only because violence can occur in the workplace but because workplaces significantly influence our attitudes, beliefs or behaviours,” she said.

“Within the workplace itself, sexual harassment affects one in five people aged 15 years or over, and four out of those five harassers are male employees.”

Ms Barry said as long as women are seen as less equal than men, disrespect and violence against women will continue.

“We know women’s experiences of violence outside the workplace, such as in the home, can also impact on the workplace,” she said.

“By implementing programs and policies to help prevent violence and provide support to those who may experience violence, workplaces can really benefit through increased productivity, reduced absenteeism and improvement in staff health and wellbeing.”

The Workplace Equality and Respect Standards are supported by accompanying tools, which will be continually improved until May 2017. At the completion of the project in May next year, these resources will be freely available to all workplaces.

family violence, women, children, our watch, community, connections


If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000. For more information about a service in your state or local area download the DAISY App in the App Store or Google Play.

This original article was found on crosslight.org.au

Connections Blog - Findings from Royal Commission into Family Violence

As a provider of child and family services, Connections has been waiting in anticipation, for the release of the Royal Commission into Family Violence’s findings. The 2000 page report delves extensively into identifying the many gaps and limitations of our current service system.

The 227 recommendations highlight the urgent need for reform. The recommendations provide a framework to enable broad and whole of government changes covering the spectrum of primary prevention to early intervention and mainstream services, and the roles each play in identifying and responding to family violence.

The experience of our staff in delivering services to children, young people and their families, includes family violence either as a presenting issue or as an underlying theme, and so it is core to much of the work we do. The impact of family violence is devastating, leaving lifelong physical and psychological pain to those impacted; pain that often take years to recover from, if ever.

The recommendation to prioritise funding for therapeutic interventions for children and young people who are victims of family violence is desperately needed. For children to grow and develop, and meet their full potential, they require trauma informed services which support their healing and recovery. Too long children have been the silent victims of family violence, not treated as victims in their own right and so not provided with the support services they require.

The recognition in the report of the need for early intervention, therapeutic diversionary programs where adolescent violence is present is also a welcomed finding. Many young people who have lived with family violence often go on to use violence toward their parents and siblings with the cycle of violence further perpetuated. Funding to provide specialised and timely intervention to this complex issue is urgently required.

We welcome the recommendations which acknowledge that women and children escaping family violence require greater access to a range of housing options is core to supporting women to make the decision to leave a violent relationship and to keeping children safe in the care of their protective parent.

The Royal Commission recommends, as the preferred option, a new area-based, single intake into Integrated Family Services and specialist family violence services that will include perpetrator interventions. This proposed model, we believe will build on the existing Child FIRST Integrated Family Services platform of service delivery which has taken over ten years to develop and is well and truly embedded across the sector. With additional resourcing and the combining of family violence services there would be capacity to provide a more holistic response to all who require a service response. We believe this is an important step in empowering women and acknowledging and responding to the needs of children.

The Victorian Government's announcement of $572 million in funding over two years to respond to the Royal Commission's 65 most urgent recommendations into family violence, we believe will have a significant impact toward providing a more holistic response for women and children impacted by violence, and men who are the perpetrators. For this we recognise Premier Daniel Andrews for his unwavering commitment to addressing the issue.

There is a sense from other organisations in the sector that we can work together to realise the changes, keeping in mind the resulting outcomes for victims and perpetrators need to be at the forefront of everything we are doing and there needs to be a significant cultural shift individually, organisationally and systemically. This is an important time for our sector and for our community. We look forward to working with the Victorian Government and other parties to play our role.


Lee-anne Chapman
Divisional Manager, Family Services Southern


 

2016 Conference Program now available

Are you interested in finding out more about the latest, innovative practice and tools which will contribute to your knowledge to make the lives of vulnerable children and families better?

The 2016 Connections UnitingCare Conference; Making Lives Better - Improving life outcomes for vulnerable children and families will explore how we build services around clients in a changing, complex world. The draft program has now been released and can be viewed on our dedicated conference website.

With keynote speakers from Australia and the world, the conference will cover topics such as cultural responsiveness and awareness; early intervention; measuring change in the context of challenge and workforce development. It will highlight best practice and empower you to work more effectively with clients presenting with complicated needs.

Renowned psychologist, Dr Michael Carr-Gregg (pictured below) will address delegates, presenting on today’s technology and how this can be integrated into practice when working with young people.

The conference will also feature a panel of experts who will ponder the question ‘can family violence be eradicated?’ and discuss the role their organisation plays in eradicating it.  

The conference will showcase, present and discuss the latest interventions, research and tools that can contribute to your knowledge of how to improve life outcomes for vulnerable children and families.

When: 25 – 26 May 2016.
Where: Rydges Melbourne, 186 Exhibition Street, Melbourne, Victoria 3000.
Registration: Save $100 off the standard price with our early bird rate of $595 (early bird offer closes 1 May 2016).

To learn more or to register, please click here.

 

Released: Connections News - Autumn Edition

The Autumn Edition of the Connections Newsletter has just been released.

It is hard to believe we are already into the third month of 2016. However, we are excited about the opportunities this year is already throwing at us and the impact these will have on the children, young people and families we work with each day.

In this edition, you can read about the great work we are doing in the area of family violence and in particular the new program we are delivering for women and children in Melbourne’s south. We also introduce you to our Regional Integrated Family Violence Coordinator who plays an important role in supporting the coordination of an integrated suite of services which respond to family violence in the Bayside Peninsula Area.

This is our last newsletter before our conference, Making Lives Better – Improving Life Outcomes for Vulnerable Children. Please visit the website and take the time to have a look at the impressive line-up of speakers we have secured. We encourage you to spread the word about this conference amongst your networks.

If you would like to receive the newsletter each season, please register here.

Click here to read Connections News – Autumn Edition.

 

Close the gap in gener inequality

On International Women’s Day, leading community organisation Connections UnitingCare and national anti-violence initiative, Our Watch believe ending gender inequality is going to require bold action by all Victorian workplaces.

“We spend a lot of time in the workplace and with that, people tend to take on the culture, norms and values of their organisation both in their professional lives and private lives too,” said Connections Chief Executive Officer, Angela Forbes.

Ms Forbes pointed to the results of a report recently released by the Victorian Trades Hall Council titled ‘Stop Gendered Violence at Work’, in which 64% of respondents reported experiencing bullying, harassment or violence in the workplace, and 44% reported having experienced discrimination at work.

“As a woman, it is disappointing that so many of my contemporaries are made to feel disrespected and fearful in their current workplace,” said Ms Forbes.

Connections is one of four and the only community organisation piloting Our Watch’s Workplace Equality and Respect Project (WERP). Under the pilot, each participating organisation will examine how its workplace reinforces gender stereotypes, whose voices are prioritised in decision-making, whether there are flexible workplace policies for both parents and how comfortable staff feel in raising concerns.

“We think, as a community service organisation with a strong reputation in the community, we can use our status and our influence to enter into public conversations about preventing violence against women and support a workplace where we have conversations about gender equality,” said Ms Forbes.

“Core to the philosophy of our programs is our belief that we have an absolute commitment to prevent violence against women, and consequently, children,” said Ms Forbes.

Connections supports more than 2,000 clients and employs approximately 400 staff. Ms Forbes said it was important gender equality is carried through from their community programs into the workplace
environment.

“We help staff make the link between gender equality and preventing violence to women. We encourage everyone to be bold this International Women’s Day.

Our Watch Chief Executive Officer, Mary Barry echoed Ms Forbes thoughts and encouraged all workplaces to #BeBoldForChange this International Women’s Day.

“Workplaces have an important role to play in creating an Australia where women are respected and treated as equals in private and public life,” said Ms Barry.

“The leadership of individual workplaces is vital to build momentum to prevent violence against women. Connections is a great example of a bold organisation working to embed gender equality in their culture, practice and conditions.

Both Ms Forbes and Ms Barry believe “the time to make this change is now”.


If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000. For more information about a service in your state or local area download the DAISY App in the App Store or Google Play.

Media: Connections’ Chief Executive Officer Angela Forbes is available for interview. Contact Connections’ Manager, Communications, Development & Events, Kirrilee Torney on kirrilee.torney@connections.org.au or 0409 513 432

A copy of the ‘Stop Gendered Violence at Work’ report is available from VTHC; please contact Prof. Lisa Heap at lheap@vthc.org.au
 

Making Changes Group

Making Changes is a group program for women who have experienced intimate partner family violence.

Do you feel scared, intimidated, threatened, humiliated or unsafe in your relationship with your partner?

Do you have control of your finances?

Have you ever been frightened for the safety of your children?

Does your partner blame you for their abusive behaviour?


Groups are facilitated by qualified welfare professionals with experience and training in family violence.

Groups are held in a safe and supported environment, to share experiences, skills and knowledge in the journey away from violence and abuse.

Topics covered include: cycle of violence, difference between anger and violence, healthy and unhealthy relationships


When: TBC - The group runs one morning a week during school

For further information and expressions of interest, contact: Megan 5990 8400

Making Changes 2016.pdf

Guest Speaker announced for the 29th Annual WJ Craig Lecture

The 2015 Annual WJ Craig Lecture will be delivered by Dean McWhirter, Assistant Commissioner, Family Violence Command.

In March 2015, Dean McWhirter was appointed Assistant Commissioner of the first Family Violence Command in an Australian policing jurisdiction. Assistant Commissioner McWhirter has been in the force for 35 years, specialising in the crime and intelligence areas and overseeing training at the Police Academy.

In my role as Assistant Commissioner of the Family Violence Command, I will be speaking out as loudly and as often as I can about family violence. There are too many people out there who are still suffering in silence.

community, event, lecture, family violence, victoria police

When: Friday 16 October 2015

Where: Melbourne Town Hall
Supper Room
Swanston Street
Melbourne

Time: 3:00pm – 5:00pm

RSVP: Christine Luk rsvp@connections.org.au or 03 8792 8999 by Friday 9 October 2015


RSVP essential
Refreshments provided

 

16 Oct 2015

Making Changes

Do you feel scared, intimidated, threatened, humiliated or unsafe in your relationship with your partner? Do you have control of your finances? Have you ever been frightened for the safety of your children? Does your partner blame you for their abusive behaviour?

Connections' Making Changes is a group program for women who have experienced intimate partner Family violence. Groups are facilitated by qualified welfare professionals with experience and training in Family violence.

Groups are held in a safe and supported environment, to share experiences, skills and knowledge in the journey away from violence and abuse.

Topics covered include:

  • cycle of violence,
  • difference between anger, and
  • violence, healthy and unhealthy relationships.

Group runs one morning a week during school term beginning 14 July, 2014.

For more information about when the next group will run, please contact:

Maria 03 8792 8999.

12 Jun 2014
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