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Vinnies tackles domestic violence

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The St Vincent de Paul Society SA has become the first Vinnies in Australia to attain White Ribbon accreditation following an 18 month process of training and development to create a safer and more respectful workplace.

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The milestone achievement coincides with the opening late last year of a 20-room Women’s Crisis Centre in suburban Adelaide and a strong focus on raising awareness of the devastating impact of domestic violence.

Vinnies SA chief executive David Wark said so many of the “crisis moments” in the lives of people assisted by Vinnies was as a result of domestic violence.

“One woman is killed every week in Australia as a result of intimate partner violence and domestic violence is the leading cause of homelessness,” he said.

“When you also consider that one third of women in Australia are affected by domestic violence in some way during their lifetime, it became clear to us that in addition to the people we assist, we also needed to look at our own organisation.”

With more than 3500 employees and volunteers, he said statistics indicated about 700 of these people would be affected in some way by domestic violence.

As part of the accreditation process, Vinnies SA staff and volunteers have been trained to recognise the various forms of domestic violence and to understand the behaviours that shape a safe and respectful workplace.

Policies and systems have been adapted or developed to support women or men impacted by domestic violence, including two weeks’ paid leave for employees.

White Ribbon is an international organisation focused on ending domestic violence against women.

White Ribbon’s Stacey Nelan said Vinnies had achieved outstanding results. From creating a positive workplace culture to raising awareness through displays in Vinnies shops, the organisation had gone the “extra mile”.

She praised the efforts of Keith Furness and Jude Davis and said she was “incredibly moved” by what the organisation was doing.

“Being from Adelaide originally and having experienced domestic violence four years ago…I have been quietly fist-punching your achievements,” she said.

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