Draw a policy: Accessible family violence policies can be life-changing
Are you confident your workplace can respond effectively to Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) employees experiencing domestic and family violence (DFV)?
The Community Services Industry workforce is as diverse as the people we serve, and our response to DFV in the workplace needs to be reflective of it.
In a project funded by the Queensland Government’s Investing in Queensland Women program, CSIA is working with Industry to explore how we can bridge the gap between organisational intent and employees’ experience when it comes to DFV.
There is still work we can do while these resources are being developed. And we have an expert to provide insights you can use right now.
Family Violence policies are great, but only for those who know about them and can understand them.
For people whose first language is not English, or for people who have low literacy, policies need to be presented differently.
Thinking creatively can potentially change lives. Let’s look at a few thoughts to get the conversation started.
Now is a good time to check your policies. Family violence impacts CALD communities too and there are some things you should consider:
- How do they know where to go or what to do if they can’t read or comprehend the organisational policy?
- Is it available in their first language, or can they access an interpreter?
- Are their needs considered to let them know how their workplace can support those experiencing, or even perpetrating, family violence? Interpreter access for support services should be made available.
A good step for workplaces is having their family violence policies translated into languages representative of the workforce and/or customer base.
This action may break down existing barriers to accessing services, while also indicating a more inclusive workplace, regardless of whether the policies focus on staff or customers.
Keep it simple
Statistically, two-thirds of women in the workforce are experiencing family violence.
And women are more likely to experience DFV and will need to keep their employment as they navigate their journey. Organisations have a responsibility to consider the best ways of making support available and facilitating the conversation in a safe way.
Key to your success is your workers disclosing what is happening to them and they need to feel that it’s safe for them to do so. To encourage disclosure, organisations can provide a simple FAQs section regarding the family violence policy, to address pressing questions victim-survivors may have in plain, accessible language.
Questions should indicate there is an understanding of potential barriers to disclosure, including fear or worry. For example, answering pertinent questions like, “Will I lose my job if I let my employer know?” This is important as many people experiencing DFV do not disclose for fear of losing their jobs and source of income.
This can be delivered with a quick-glance summary of support the organisation offers to its staff impacted by family violence and can help staff find out more information quickly and easily.
Another simple action for your organisation is to provide a brief outline of your policy, followed by a detailed document. These should be written in simple, easy-to-understand language and can include the use of graphics and pictures to illustrate your messages.
The impact of storytelling
A final thought is to consider presenting the policy differently. Storytelling is part of many cultures. Is there a way you can communicate the family violence policy in story form, in a video or even through images?
The story you create could follow the experiences of an employee who tells her story of experiencing family violence, and how the organisation supports her. She finds the policy accessible, and it guides her in the process to disclose and receive support. She can safely and confidentially disclose to her manager, access specific available leave, and flexible working arrangement options to attend court, look after her children, and remain safe.
Using imagery to communicate the policy may also be helpful for managers and other staff to reinforce what successful support looks like.
In a high-tech world, it’s time to think about how to present family violence policies differently. A picture speaks a thousand words and is more easily digested than a written policy. After all, isn’t changing or saving a life the intended outcome of the policy?