STACEY constantly feels like she is walking on egg shells. Free for years now, the family violence survivor says the experience still impacts her life. Stacey speaks out in the hope to change community perceptions – family violence is not always black eyes or body bruises.
“It’s easy to live in shadows and let domestic violence control my life,” Stacey said. “I want to shine a light on my life. Society needs to change to remove the stigma.
People think victims are weak, but some women in a family violence situation are often strong and very good and hiding what’s happening.
“We’ve got to change the language for more respect in general.”
Stacey shared her story at Women’s Health Grampians’ Leading Change lunch for Ballarat business leaders on Tuesday. The event, in partnership with Committee for Ballarat and Leadership Ballarat and Western Region, aimed to spark cultural change in the region.
Our Watch new chief executive officer Patty Kinnersly said change needed regional leadership, across businesses, community organisations and sporting club.
The event encouraged leaders to look more closely at how we wanted to build this community: the language we use; recruitment; unconscious biases; looking differently at inequality and disrespect – and how workplaces held levers to control accepted standards. This included family violence leave.
Medibank well-being general manager Karen Oldaker said hearing stories like Stacey’s were crucial in making the right changes.
Ms Oldaker said Medibank had initially introduced 10 days’ paid leave for family violence but listening to women in such situations, the health insurance giant changed to uncapped paid leave to better support employees dealing with challenges of family violence.
Ms Oldaker said it was more than meeting prolonged court demands, it was moving houses and changing schools – all the extra things.
“Workplaces need to acknowledge women in this situation are not okay and need to know (employers) are here for them to do whatever they need to do to escape that,” Ms Oldaker said.
“Workplaces have a huge role to play in diversity and conversations which include gender.”
Ms Oldaker said the #MeToo movement, sparked in Hollywood, created a 68 per cent spike in calls to the Medibank 1800RESPECT hotline in the past year for help with sexual assault and family violence.
Medibank delivers the service on behalf of the Australian government as part of the national plan to reduce violence against women and their children.
All three women reiterate family violence does not discriminate.
They join the call for more Ballarat businesses to join the Gramoians-wide Communities of Respect and Equality (CoRE) plan.
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