Rebecca Quilliam

Rebecca Quilliam is senior reporter at the NZME. News Service office in Wellington.

Survey on family violence and work 'chilling'

Human Rights Commissioner for Women, Dr Jackie Blue. Photo / file
Human Rights Commissioner for Women, Dr Jackie Blue. Photo / file

A survey on how family violence affects victims' work is "chilling but compulsory" reading for Government leaders, the Human Rights Commission says.

"Violence - physical, mental, emotional - is one of the oldest yet greatest human rights challenges facing New Zealand families," Human Rights Commissioner for Women, Dr Jackie Blue said.

"Everyone has the right to personal security, to be safe and to feel safe: violence in all its forms denies those rights."

A survey of more than 1600 PSA members about their experience of family violence and its impact on their work was released this week to reveal the stories of Government employees who were harassed, stalked and subjected to violence and abuse by their partners.

"Not surprisingly traumatised people bring this to work with them every day: trauma is not something that can be automatically switched off."

Dr Blue welcomed the study and urged Government leaders and managers to recognise the devastating impact violence was having on the lives of their employees.

Over half of the surveys recipients reported some experience with domestic violence, and 26 per cent had direct experience of family violence.

Of that 26 per cent, more than half needed to take time off work and 38 per cent said violence made it difficult for them to get into work.

The research was completed by Auckland University Public Health masters student Margaret Thomas.

Of the participants who reported their work performance was impacted, most (84 per cent) said tardiness was the primary effect, while being distracted, tired or unwell affected 16 per cent of respondents.

Green Party MP Jan Logie has recently put forward a bill that proposes workplace protections for victims of domestic violence.

She noted research by economist Suzanne Snively, which found that businesses were losing $368 million a year in productivity from the impacts of domestic violence in the workplace.

PSA national secretary Brenda Pilott said employers needed to "pay attention" to the issue.

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Abusive tactics:

* Sabotage

Consists of actions the abuser takes to either stop the victim from going to work or cause them to arrive late.

Actions included disabling the car, failing to arrive for childcare or interfering with existing arrangements, hiding or destroying work uniforms or clothes, hiding car keys and even physically restraining or harming the victim.

* Stalking

Involves the perpetrator behaving in threatening ways directed at the victim.

This can include watching the victim while she works, lurking around outside her workplace, waiting for her after work or meeting her along her route home.

* Harassment

Behaviours can include making a scene at her workplace, not allowing her to finish her work, and repeatedly calling the victim or the workplace.

(Source: The Impacts of Domestic Violence on Workers in the Workplace, by Margaret Thomas)

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