Family violence a workplace issue for Are You Safe at Home? Day 2023

Family violence a workplace issue for Are You Safe at Home? Day 2023

Thursday 25 May 2023

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Violence against women impacts around one in six female workers, highlighting family violence as a critical workplace issue.

Established in 2020, Are You Safe at Home? is a national awareness raising initiative designed to break down the fear and stigma associated with talking about family violence by providing clear information about what to look out for, what supports are available, and how to start a conversation if you’re concerned someone you care about is experiencing abuse.    

Following the recent introduction of universal paid domestic and family violence leave across Australian workplaces, the focus of Are You Safe at Home? Day 2023 was to shine a spotlight on the significant role colleagues and employers can play in recognising and responding to family violence. 

This year, Are You Safe at Home? Day amplified the need for a cultural shift across all workplaces, to destigmatise conversations about family violence at work and to provide the tools and skills to recognise the signs of family violence and respond safely. To kick off the 2023 campaign, Safe and Equal CEO Tania Farha joined Future Women’s Sally Spicer for a conversation on Instagram Live to discuss Are You Safe at Home?, the crucial role workplaces can play, and tips for what to do and what not to do when starting a conversation about family violence. 

The panel discussion

Are You Safe at Home? Day Panel at EY

“It’s a human right to be safe – and it’s an OHS right to be safe at work.” 

Katie Alexander, Survivor Advocate 

Hosted at EY in Melbourne’s CBD, Safe and Equal alongside Thriving Communities Partnership held a morning tea attended by over 60 business leaders and sector experts, for a robust discussion on how to create sensitive and responsive workplaces for employees at risk of experiencing family violence. 

The morning commenced with a Welcome to Country from Wurundjeri Elder Aunty Diane Kerr and an opening address from David Larocca, Oceana CEO and Regional Managing Partner at EY, who highlighted that Are You Safe at Home? Day is a reminder that conversations on family violence are not just the responsibility of governments, but everybody in the community – including workplaces. 

David’s address was followed by an in-depth panel discussion hosted by Ciara Sterling (CEO, Thriving Communities Partnership), featuring insights from: 

  • Rosie Batty AO, family violence advocate 
  • Katie Alexander, survivor advocate 
  • Caroline Wall, Head of Customer Vulnerability, Commonwealth Bank 
  • Tania Farha, CEO Safe and Equal 
  • Professor Kyllie Cripps, Director Monash Indigenous Studies Centre 

The discussion gave guests the opportunity to listen to and reflect on stories shared by panelists on what meaningful and effective change in an organisation can look like. 

The panel spoke to the significance of family violence as a workplace responsibility. Safe and Equal CEO Tania Farha reflected on the results of the recent National Community Attitudes Survey (NCAS), saying, “There’s still almost 50% of Australians who think family violence is not happening in their own community.” Head of Customer Vulnerability at Commonwealth Bank, Caroline Wall highlighted the parallels between the statistics and workplace environments – that it is confronting to consider that within any business, there may be a large number of people experiencing family violence, as well as a number of people perpetrating it. 

“I knew there was gossip. I knew there were career opportunities I was overlooked for, because I was viewed as a weak link.” 

Survivor Advocate Katie Alexander on the impact an unsupportive and unsafe workplace had on her career progression. 

Are You Safe at Home? Day Panel

Survivor Advocate Katie Alexander shared her powerful story of both positive and negative experiences as a victim survivor in the workplace. Katie called for lived experience advocates to be included across the spectrum of employer responses – in the development of organisational policies and procedures, on the Board, as well as in workplace education and training. Katie also highlighted the need for choice and control in how a victim survivor discloses family violence at work, and the options presented to them.  

This was reiterated by Professor Kyllie Cripps from Monash University, who spoke of the multitude of different aspects that form an individual’s identity and the way they interact with the world. Due to systemic discrimination and marginalisation, the options for many people seeking family violence support can be limited. Kyllie encouraged business owners to take an intersectional approach to experiences of family violence in the workplace, saying, “we have to be mindful of the individual in front of us and what they’re carrying.”  

The need to go beyond leave provisions and to embed cultural shifts within a workplace was then discussed. Tania stated that without this shift, staff can never feel safe enough to disclose and seek support. Rosie highlighted that leadership from the top-down is key, as well as fostering a workplace culture of respect and equality for people to feel safe and able to do their best work. “At the crux of all of this is respect. When you feel respected, valued, and appreciated, you thrive,” said Rosie. 

As the panel took questions from the audience and gave their final thoughts, the key message was clear: all organisations can make a difference, but it requires nuance, consideration, action and reflection. 

The webinars

Simultaneously, Safe and Equal hosted three webinars across South Australia and Northern Territory (in partnership with Northern Territory Council of Social Services and Embolden Alliance), Victoria and New South Wales (in partnership with Domestic Violence NSW) and Western Australia (in partnership with Centre for Womens Safety and Wellbeing). Over 240 attendees from across Australia joined us throughout the day.

Logos: NTCOSS, Embolden, DVNSW, Centre for Women's Safety and Wellbeing

Emma Morgan, Strategic Projects and Engagement Manager, and Rebeca Carro, Lived Experience Program Officer, explored what family violence is, what the signs are, and how to have safe and respectful conversations with colleagues about family violence.  

The webinar also included a powerful interview between Bec and Olga, exploring Olga’s particular experiences of being supported and not supported in their workplace while they were experiencing family violence and what that meant for their journey to safety. 

Resources shared throughout these webinars included: 

Are You Safe at Home? Day 2024

We will be back for Are You Safe at Home? Day on 10 May 2024. Keep up to date with the campaign by subscribing here 

Want to know more?

Continue your learning with our free Are You Safe at Home? eLearn  

The Are You Safe at Home? eLearn is self-paced and takes 20 minutes, so it fits into a busy work schedule. It’s designed to equip you with the skills to recognise and respond to family violence. Register for the eLearn here 

 Supporting Safe and Equal Workplaces  

To learn more about how Safe and Equal can work with your organisation to recognise and respond to family and domestic violence, please visit our website or reach out to Robyn Stone, Business Partnerships and Engagement Advisor, at  

Make a donation  

We all have a role to play in ending family violence in our community. Your donation can strengthen our work in preventing and responding to family and gender-based violence. Make a secure donation to Safe and Equal using your credit card on the GiveNow website. Donate here.   

Start the conversation  

Most importantly, you don’t have to be an expert to support someone experiencing family violence. You can start small by opening up the conversation, listening and offering support. You can ask the question, ‘are you safe at home?’. 

Page last updated Thursday, May 25 2023


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Safe and Equal responds to the 2023-24 State Budget

Victoria’s family violence response stays the course, but no end in sight for housing crisis

Wednesday 24 May 2023

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In a difficult economic context, the Victorian Government is ‘staying the course’ on responses to family violence.

In the years since the Royal Commission into Family Violence, we have seen incredible investment into major reforms. 

Building on the investment from previous years, and in a context that tightens spending across critical community services, the 2023-34 Victorian Budget does include $77 million to continue delivering support for victim survivors of family violence and sexual assault and perpetrator intervention initiatives over the next four years. This includes ongoing funding for Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations to deliver family violence and sexual assault services and the establishment of a collaborative crisis accommodation model for people at high risk of family violence with very high support needs.  

A further $23 million towards providing access to specialist legal assistance in seven new family violence courts is also welcome.  

Even with this investment, there are persistent gaps, barriers and pressure points that remain in the family violence system due to increasing demand and need.  

Disappointingly, this budget contains no notable investment into increasing access to social and affordable housing. 

Last year, we welcomed the announcement of funding for two new refuges as well as upgrades to existing locations that would increase capacity within Victoria’s stretched specialist family violence emergency accommodation system. 

But victim survivors are getting stuck in crisis accommodation, with nowhere safe and affordable for services to move them into long-term. This year’s budget papers show that people experiencing family violence are facing an average wait time of 20 months for priority public housing, up from last year’s already unacceptable 17 months. Due to a critical lack of suitable options, many victim survivors of family violence are facing an impossible choice between homelessness and abuse. 

Until the government commits to developing more social housing properties and investing long-term into initiatives that enable people to remain safely in their own homes, access to safety and recovery for victim survivors will continue to be limited. 

The Victorian Government made an ambitious commitment to rebuild our family violence system and backed this with incredible investment in the years since the Royal Commission into Family Violence. These reforms have laid the foundations for a system that can give victim survivors a voice, a home, and a timely and clear pathway to recovery. 

Victoria has led the way in preventing and responding to family violence, but we have a long way to go to ensure a flexible and accessible system that works for everyone.  

We look forward to continuing to work with the Andrews Government to realise the vision of a Victoria free from violence.  

Page last updated Wednesday, May 24 2023


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Safe and Equal responds to the 2023-24 Federal Budget

Safe and Equal responds to the 2023-24 Federal Budget

Friday 12 May 2023

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Safe and Equal welcomes the ongoing investment in and support of women’s safety initiatives delivered in the 2023-24 Federal Budget and acknowledges this as a step toward achieving the ambitious goal of ending family violence in one generation as outlined in the new National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children.

The new budget reflects the Albanese government’s commitment to supporting Australians during a time where many are doing it tough; and we are hopeful further funding announcements tied to the new National Plan’s first Action Plan (due for release later this year) will provide the bold and visionary investment required to address family and gender-based violence across the country. 

Of particular note in this budget is the announcement of a further $326.7 million across four years (with $19.4 million per year ongoing) to deliver women’s safety initiatives under the National Plan, including: 

  • $159 million over two years from 2023–24 to extend the Family and Domestic and Sexual Violence Responses National Partnership Agreement with state and territory governments and to continue to address service gaps to and support frontline service delivery   
  • $38.2 million to extend the current Escaping Violence Payment and Temporary Visa Holders Experiencing Violence Pilot to January 2025 
  • $12.1 million over four years from 2023–24 to develop and distribute social media resources for young people on consent and to support community-led sexual violence prevention pilots. 

 These funding announcements are welcomed and ensure that some important frontline services for victim survivors are safeguarded against funding cuts for the next two years. 

We are also pleased to see the Government commit $194 million over five years to support the dedicated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Action Plan under the National Plan which is still in development, including: 

  • $145.3 million over four years from 2023–24, including a provision of $128.6 million in the Contingency Reserve, to support activities which address immediate safety concerns for First Nations women and children who are experiencing, or at risk of experiencing, family, and domestic and sexual violence   
  • $23.2 million over four years from 2023–24 to support families impacted by violence and at risk of engaging in the child protection system, through programs aimed at early intervention and recovery and supporting families   
  • $17.6 million over two years from 2023–24 to deliver on family safety initiatives under the Action Plan  
  • $7.8 million over four years from 2022–23 (and $4.0 million in 2027–28) to support the development of a standalone First Nations National Plan for Family Safety. 

This announcement shows a commitment to the development and delivery of this dedicated Action Plan, and we hope to see Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities having the resources and remit to design and deliver the activities to end family violence within their communities. 

Additionally, we welcome the commitment to address the indexation of community services wages, which are expected to increase by $242 million in 2023-24, and by around $4 billion over the four years from 2023 to 2027. While we’re looking forward to knowing more detail about this commitment, we’re hopeful it represents an intention to deliver real wage growth to workers in community services, and that services are funded appropriately to do this. 

While this builds on announcements in the Albanese Government’s first budget, much more needs to be invested into women’s safety initiatives, from primary prevention through to response and recovery. We hope to see additional commitments across the continuum with the release of the first Action Plan, including: 

  • Increased investment in long-term primary prevention actions and programming, as articulated in the National Plan 
  • The development of a long-term strategic plan focused on building the size and capacity of the prevention workforce 
  • Funding to coordinate interstate prevention activities 
  • Commitment from both state and federal government to long-term, adequate funding for specialist family violence services, who continue to grapple with increasingly unsustainable demand and limited resources. 

Additionally, we would like to see the government invest in more formal processes and guidance for working with survivor advocates in the design, delivery and evaluation of women’s safety initiatives. While new funding committed in the previous budget was welcome, meaningful engagement with lived experience is crucial and requires greater prioritisation and further investment. 

There are a range of welcome announcements prioritising housing and social security in this budget, including the abolition of ParentsNext, an investment of $1.9 billion over five years to extend eligibility for single parenting payments, and an additional $67.5 million in 2023-24 to boost homelessness funding to states and territories. The increase of $40 per fortnight for people on income support payments is welcomed and long-overdue, but just the start.  

These targeted measures will provide victim survivors with better access to housing and income support, which we know are critical to achieving long-term safety and recovery. However, while increases announced in this budget are a win, they continue to fall short of what is required to combat the rising rates of housing insecurity, homelessness and poverty that more Australians are facing. 

Achieving the cultural and systemic change required to prevent and end family violence in one generation is an ambitious goal, but certainly possible. It requires bold and visionary investment in the initiatives we hope to see outlined in the National Plan’s first Action Plan and dedicated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Action Plan. 

Safe and Equal commends the Albanese Government for the focus and prioritisation of women’s safety and gender equality initiatives in this year’s budget, and we look forward to continuing together on the path to realising the vision set out in the National Plan. 

Page last updated Friday, May 12 2023


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Workplaces in the spotlight for Are You Safe At Home? Day 2023

Workplaces in the spotlight for Are You Safe At Home? Day 2023

Wednesday 10 May 2023

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“Support from a colleague or my workplace would have given me the confidence to leave sooner, and I wouldn’t have had to do the thing I was afraid of the most, all alone.”
- Louise*, Survivor Advocate

We all deserve safety, respect and the opportunity to thrive, wherever we live, work and play. 

But for many of us, home is not always safe. Our workplace could be the only refuge or place to seek support.  

That is why this year’s Are You Safe At Home? Day is shining a spotlight on the significant role colleagues and employers can play in recognising and responding to family violence. 

With one in three Australian women having experienced physical or sexual violence by a current or former partner since the age of 151 , chances are there’s a survivor of gender-based violence amongst every group of people we know – and workplaces are no exception.  

“Violence impacts around one in six female workers, so we know family violence is a critical workplace issue,” said Tania Farha, Safe and Equal CEO. 

“It’s crucial we include workplaces in conversations about family violence, because they’re part of the solution.” 

Are You Safe At Home? is a national awareness raising initiative, designed to break down the fear and stigma associated with talking about family violence by providing clear information about what to look out for, what supports are available, and how to start a conversation if you’re concerned someone you care about is experiencing abuse.   

Safe and Equal launched Are You Safe At Home? in 2020, during Victoria’s first pandemic lockdowns.  

During this time, specialist family violence services noticed that calls to support helplines from victim survivors stopped – because they were trapped at home with their perpetrator, there was no safe way to reach out,” said Ms Farha. 

“Instead, they saw calls from friends, family members and even co-workers increase. These were people who were really worried about someone but weren’t sure what to do – and that’s what Are You Safe At Home? is about – giving people in the community the tools and support to be able to recognise and respond to family violence. 

Since then, Are You Safe At Home? has expanded beyond a pandemic response. 2022 saw the launch of Are You Safe At Home? Day, which is now an annual event on 10 May.   

“This initiative is important because it not only provides tips on how to recognise the signs of family violence and sensitively open up conversations with affected individuals, but it also equips co-workers and loved ones of those experiencing family violence with practical knowledge of available services and supports,” says Survivor Advocate Rachel Croucher. 

We know that many people experiencing family violence will never contact police or services,” said Ms Farha. 

“Their friends, family and colleagues are often the first line of support – they see things that others don’t and can pick up on some of the more subtle signs that something isn’t right.” 

Are You Safe At Home? Day provides an opportunity for people in the community to get comfortable with starting what can be a difficult and confronting conversation. 

To support this the Are You Safe At Home? website features a suite of accessible tools and resources to help people feel more comfortable and confident to recognise the signs and offer support. 

“It can be really overwhelming to know what to say, what to do or where to start. You may worry that you’ll be interfering if you step in, or that you might say the wrong thing,” said Ms Farha. 

But you don’t have to be an expert. By starting small and opening up the conversation, asking ‘are you safe at home?’, and by listening and offering support, you can make a world of difference.” 

For Survivor Advocate Martina, when a friend asked whether everything was okay at home it was life changing. 

“This friend asked the right questions and pointed out to me that my abusive partner was gaslighting me and emotionally abusing me and that I deserved better,” said Martina. 

“All it took was one simple question, but it literally saved my life.” 

For Domestic Violence Advocate Carol-Ann Fletcher, remaining non-judgemental and supportive of the victim survivor is crucial. 

“The best thing you can do is let them know you love them and will be there for them, regardless of whether they choose to leave or stay with their abuser,” said Ms Fletcher. 

These considered responses extend to the workplace. A supportive and respectful workplace culture can be a lifeline for people experiencing abuse. 

The recent introduction of paid domestic and family violence leave across Australia is an incredible step forward in recognising that family violence is a workplace issue, and that employers have a responsibility to support people at work when things aren’t safe at home. 

However, according to sector experts, these leave provisions must be supported by structures and policies that promote a supportive and respectful workplace culture, one that challenges the attitudes and behaviours that promote gender inequality – a key driver of family and gender-based violence. 

All businesses should prioritise the development and implementation of tailored and accessible domestic and family violence workplace policy – and this needs to be underpinned by a safe and equitable workplace culture,” said Ms Farha. 

“We’ve heard stories from victim survivors about both the practical and emotional support workplaces have provided, which have been a vital part of their journey to safety,” said Ms Farha. 

“Sometimes that has been long term emotional support and checking in about safety, both from colleagues and managers; sometimes it has been support to relocate to another work site; sometimes it’s been providing access to a safe and accessible car park for victim survivors who are being stalked.” 

A key message for the community, Ms Farha says, is that family violence is entirely preventable.  

“But the reality is, we need ongoing and coordinated action across all levels of government and the community if things are ever going to change,” said Ms Farha. 

“While no individual can eliminate family violence on their own, we all have a role to play in this.” 

This 10 May, we’re asking all Australians to start the conversation – because we all deserve to feel safe at home. 

For more information, please visit 


For confidential information, counselling and support for both victim survivors and their loved ones, contact 1800 RESPECT (24 hours a day, 7 days a week). 

For Victorians who need family violence crisis support, contact Safe Steps on 1800 015 188 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week).   

For people who are using violence who want to get help, contact the Men’s Referral Service on 1300 766 491.   

(*not their real name) 

Page last updated Wednesday, May 10 2023


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