Women's Health Grampians has developed a resource to support employers managing staff who are working from home throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
The online advice provides guidance on identifying potential signs that an employee might be experiencing family violence and practical advice on supporting them.
Women's Health Grampians manager of strategy and programs Rose Durey said the frequency and severity of violence against women in the home was increasing due to COVID-19.
"Because of COVID-19 restrictions a lot of workplace staff are working from home, which means family violence in this working from home environment is being viewed as a workplace occupational health and safety issue," she said.
The resource will be distributed to more than 120 organisations in the Grampians region who are members of the Community of Respect and Equality (CoRE) alliance.
For a lot of staff who are experiencing family violence, work is seen as a place of safety and an escape.Rose Durey, Women's Health Grampians
Ms Durey said it would was important workplaces were aware of the risks and could provide support, given no guidance had been provided on when employees will be able to return to workplaces in Victoria.
"For a lot of staff who are experiencing family violence, work is seen as a place of safety and an escape," she said.
"So when that is not open and available, that safe place doesn't exist to escape family violence, to seek support and make calls. That is not happening anymore and that is what is alarming for us.
"The onus on workplaces is to ensure they are doing what is reasonable in terms of identifying potential risks and dealing with them.
"That might be providing a safe environment for disclosure and asking the question, incorporating it into OH&S checklists for working from home."
RELATED COVERAGE: Services want you to know family violence support is available
The Women's Health Grampians resource recommends employers maintain regular communication with employees about how they are going at home and consider sending information to all staff about supports available.
It also suggests organisations should have policies regarding family violence leave, dealing with disclosures, OH&S and flexible working arrangements and all managers and human resources staff are trained to identify and respond to disclosures of family violence.
Family violence support services are available and the Victorian Government has made clear anyone can leave their home to escape family violence under coronavirus restrictions.
Contact 1800 RESPECT or Safe Steps on 1800 015 188 if you are experiencing family violence.
Visit whg.org.au/ to access the family violence and working from home advice note.
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