Business & Human Rights, Events, News

International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women: companies take action to support and empower women who experience violence

UN Global Compact Network Australia | November 25, 2014

Today is International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

  • Internationally, 35% of women and girls globally experience some form of physical and or sexual violence in their lifetime.[1]
  • In Australia, one in three women have experienced physical violence since the age of 15; almost one in five have experienced sexual violence.[2]

There is much that business can do to support and empower women who experience violence. In this special GCNA update, we highlight three great GCNA company initiatives.

Telstra launches new program to help women impacted by domestic violence stay safely connected

Telstra has launched a new program in partnership with the Women’s Services Network (WESNET) to provide women impacted by domestic violence with access to a new smartphone, pre-paid credit and information on the safe use of technology.

Through the Safe Connections program, Telstra will provide 5,000 smartphones annually, $30 pre-paid recharge cards and technology safety tips to WESNET for distribution through partner agencies. This is in addition to the $1 million in mobile pre-paid recharge cards Telstra has made available each year to help people impacted by domestic violence remain connected.

“Your mobile phone helps keep you connected with friends and loved ones and is an essential part of your everyday life,” says Nancie-Lee Robinson, Telstra General Manager of Digital Inclusion. “If you are impacted by domestic violence it can also become a lifeline to search for and find help, create safety plans and find pathways to a new life.”

Find out more about Telstra’s Safe Connections program here.

NAB strengthens its commitments to employees who experience domestic violence

New clauses were introduced into NAB’s 2014 Enterprise Bargaining Agreement to provide employees with additional certainty around the support they will receive from NAB if they experience domestic violence.

In the Agreement, NAB has committed to and requires its managers to provide a sensitive and non-judgemental approach and access to counselling, and to work with affected employees to adjust work schedules or location if required.

Michaela Healey, NAB Group Executive, states: “The reality is that escaping a violent relationship can be not only dangerous, traumatic and isolating, it costs victims time and money. And employers have an important role to play, in ensuring that victims are not further burdened with work pressures, forgone income, or worse, the loss of their job.”

NAB has also committed to providing paid leave to employees who experience domestic violence who need time off work for medical and legal assistance, court appearances, counselling, relocation or to make other safety arrangements. The additional paid leave component of the initiative is vital to help victims escape financial dependency on their abuser.

The Enterprise Bargaining Agreement clauses strengthen the commitments made by NAB in adopting its Domestic Violence Support Policy in 2013. Read more about NAB’s domestic violence policy here

Oil Search raising awareness of violence against women and supporting safe house in PNG          

Research has found that 70% of women in Papua New Guinea will be raped or physically assaulted in their lifetime, and domestic and gender-based violence has been described as “endemic” in PNG by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women.

The Oil Search Foundation is currently supporting the construction of a safe house for victims of violence in the PNG Highlands, one of the most violent areas of PNG. Oil Search has also launched a campaign to raise employee awareness of violence against women, encouraging them to submit photos holding a meaningful message in support of the campaign. Then, for every photo submitted, Oil Search has also secured commitments from key suppliers to contribute an amount, for every photo submitted, to the new safe house.

Read more about Oil Search’s gender based programmes, and its human rights approach more generally, here.

Women’s Empowerment Principles: Equality Means Business

The Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) – a joint initiative of the UN Global Compact and UN Women – are leading, global principles offering guidance to business on empowering women in the workplace, marketplace and community.

The WEPs encourage employers to prioritise the safety of their female employees, both in and outside of the office.

Principle 3, Ensure the health, safety and well-being of all women and men workers, highlights the responsibility employers have to support victims of violence and to provide a workplace that is free from violence. There are many ways employers can fulfil this responsibility, including:

  • offering services for survivors of domestic violence;
  • respecting requests for time off for counselling or medical care;
  • training staff to recognise the signs of violence against women;
  • identifying security issues, including the safe travel of staff to and from work; and
  • establishing a zero-tolerance policy towards violence and harassment at work.

For more information on the WEPs, please contact us.  We are also keen to hear from other companies about their initiatives to support the elimination of violence against women.


[1] World Health Organisation, http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs239/en/

[2] Council of Australian Governments, https://www.dss.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/05_2012/national_plan.pdf 


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UN Global Compact Network Australia