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HRC and SIA get DVFREE tick

The Human Rights Commission (HRC) and the Social Investment Agency (SIA) have both been awarded the DVFREE (Domestic Violence Free) Tick this week from Shine, New Zealand’s specialist domestic violence non-for-profit.

The DVFREE Tick is awarded to organisations that have taken specific, meaningful steps to create a workplace that is safe and supportive for staff experiencing domestic violence.

This comes on the heels of HRC taking on a formal role in the implementation of the Domestic Violence Victims Protection Act that went into force on 1st April 2019. This Act updated the Human Rights Act so that it is now illegal for employers to discriminate against an employee, or potential employee, on the basis of being affected by domestic violence. From 1st April, people who believe they have been discriminated against on this basis can make a complaint to the Human Rights Commission.

Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt says “Domestic violence is the one of the most serious human rights issue facing New Zealanders, and possibly the most serious for New Zealand women.

“It was important for the Commission to be well-prepared for our role responding to complaints of discrimination on the basis of domestic violence under the new legislation, so we brought in Shine to provide intensive training for our entire Enquiries and Complaints Team.

“We also felt it was vital for the Commission to lead by example in providing the best possible support for our own employees who experience domestic violence, so at the same time, we have been working towards the DVFREE Tick.”

SIA and HRC are the sixth and seventh employers to be awarded the DVFREE Tick by Shine.

Social Investment Agency Director Corporate Lynda Jelbert says that SIA recognizes domestic violence as a significant social problem, and recognizes the need to invest in solutions.

“At SIA we care about our people, as they are at the heart of what we do,” said Jelbert. “We have prioritised making SIA a great place to work and this includes making it a place where people feel safe and supported. With such high rates of domestic violence in New Zealand, we know it can happen to anyone at anytime, and we want to be part of the solution,” said Jelbert.

Shine’s DVFREE Advisor Holly Carrington says she is thrilled to welcome both agencies to the DVFREE Tick whanau.

“These are two organisations that are, at the heart of what they do, about creating a better New Zealand. Achieving the DVFREE Tick demonstrates that both organisations have taken important steps towards this goal by supporting their own people who may experience domestic violence.

The Human Rights Commission and the Social Investment Agency have both shown true commitment to the wellbeing of their employees through this achievement,” says Carrington.

“It’s also great to know that HRC staff are well-prepared to respond to anyone making a formal complaint of discrimination on the basis of domestic violence under the new legislation. Specialist training for their Enquiries and Complaints Team will help ensure they are well-equipped to address callers’ concerns about discrimination at the same time as proactively addressing any immediate needs for safety and support.”

As well as creating a new Domestic Violence Policy, updating other policies, and adding information and education about domestic violence to their staff intranet, the DVFREE Tick has seen SIA and HRC train key staff as ‘First Responders’ and train all of their managers. First responders are now equipped to respond to domestic violence disclosures, create safety plans if needed, and provide ongoing support for staff affected by domestic violence.

More information about DVFREE services and the DVFREE Tick are at www.dvfree.org.nz, and can help employers take a best-practice approach, rather than doing the minimum required by law. Shine also offers Shine’s free Guidelines on Policy and Procedures that can be downloaded from the DVFREE website.

A number of other employers are also currently working towards the DVFREE Tick. Dozens more are engaged with DVFREE training and policy consultation services, while hundreds have downloaded the DVFREE Guidelines for Policy and Procedures and expressed interest in the programme.


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