We Need to Talk About Domestic Violence

  • Our diversity and inclusion agenda included a continued focus on domestic violence after launching a dedicated policy in 2016.

    Westfield Riccarton Centre Manager Helen Ronald and Assistant Centre Manager Kirstie McNulty

    Scentre Group’s diversity and inclusion (D&I) agenda expanded in 2017 to raise awareness of the prevalence of domestic and family violence internally, and to support groups in our communities committed to preventing domestic and family violence.

    In support of Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month in May we also provided staff with the answers to some frequently asked questions about domestic and family violence, to raise awareness and understanding of what is a very complex issue.

    We also reminded staff of the Domestic and Family Violence Guidelines we released on White Ribbon Day in 2016, which provide a framework of support for anyone dealing with family or domestic violence, whether directly or indirectly. The guidelines include the stated intent to create a safe work environment where our people are comfortable in seeking support and requesting access to company-provided assistance.

    Guidelines were also issued for managers to assist them in understanding the issues, how to respond and how to engage the appropriate help.

    In the lead up to the 2017 White Ribbon Day on 25 November, the Group’s community experience team ran a volunteer program across the business in support of people affected by domestic and family violence.

    “As a business, we strongly uphold the values of diversity and inclusion. As Scentre Group’s executive sponsor for domestic and family violence, I am proud of our company’s focus to support team members who are personally impacted,” says Director of Customer Experience, Phil McAveety.

    “Our Westfield centres are the hearts of our communities and I believe we can play a role in supporting those groups in our local areas who work with people personally impacted by domestic and family violence. In this way, we can amplify those values that we strongly uphold externally.”

    On average over a 12-month period, one woman is killed every week by a current or former partner. Domestic and family violence is the principal cause of homelessness for women and their children. One in three victims of family violence is male.

    The community experience team developed the program of volunteering opportunities in support of those affected across Australia and New Zealand, and encouraged team members to use their volunteer leave to take one up. Most of the opportunities were for groups, providing an ideal team-building activity for employees.

    Staff support for the initiative was overwhelming, with the first initiative of the program kicking off in New Zealand in support of Dress for Success.

    Here’s what two of our volunteers from Westfield Riccarton – Centre Manager Helen Ronald, and Assistant Centre Manager Kirstie McNulty – had to say about their experience:

    Why did you choose to volunteer?

    Kirstie: We’ve worked with Dress for Success in the centre for the past three years so when the volunteering opportunity arose we decided to go for it.

    How has Dress for Success activated in Westfield Riccarton before?

    Helen: For the past three seasons, in January, we’ve held promotions where people can drop off clothing that is suitable for a woman returning to work and receive a $10 gift card in return.

    The promotions have been really successful, with our customers donating huge amounts of clothing with many saying they didn’t want the gift card, but just wanted to donate and provide that support. We’ve received really great clothing – some brand new with the tags still on.

    How does Dress for Success support those impacted by domestic and family violence?

    Helen: Dress for Success supports women who have come from a situation of need, many of which involve domestic or family violence, to return to the workforce. They work with the women to give them confidence, interview skills and a full interview outfit, right down to the handbag and necklace, to help them get a job.

    To access the services offered by Dress for Success you have to be referred by an organisation that has ties with the charity. Many of these organisations include government agencies and women’s refuges.

    What was involved in the volunteering day?

    Kirstie: The charity gets donated a lot of clothes, more than they can give away, so they use the additional clothes to raise money for the charity. Twice a year they have a standard sale and once a year they have a ‘designer brands’ sale.

    Helen and I volunteered during the morning of one of their ordinary sale days. It was held at a local school and we helped set up all of the clothes and manage the sales. The sales are another way Dress for Success can support their clients as they’re able to shop during the morning before it opens to the public at midday, giving them the opportunity to further expand their professional wardrobe at a reasonable price.

    What are your thoughts about our stance on domestic and family violence?

    Helen: I’m actually on the working group for domestic and family violence and I’m extremely passionate about this. I am really pleased that we’re promoting our support for White Ribbon Day through our SmartScreens this year to let the public know that we do have a stance on this. I think it’s so important because Australia has terrible statistics and, sadly, New Zealand has even worse statistics around this. It’s atrocious, so for the public to know that we, as a large organisation, have a statement on it is really, really important.

    Would you volunteer again?

    Helen: We’re actually going to have a session with the Dress for Success volunteers in a few weeks to provide them with tips about what retailers often look for during recruitment so they can share this with their clients and arm them with knowledge that may be helpful in their job searches. So yes, we’d definitely volunteer and look for ways to support the charity again.

    Kirstie: Absolutely, it was a great experience and I love doing things to support the community. I think it’s great that we support all sorts of charities through our volunteering days and it’s so important that the volunteer days aren’t just provided, but it’s actually encouraged that you use them and you feel it’s OK to take the time away from your role to do the work within the community. It’s all part of achieving our purpose: creating extraordinary places, connecting and enriching communities.

Related stories