Family and Domestic Violence in the Australian Workplace

Family and domestic violence is a pervasive issue that extends its dark reach far beyond the confines of homes, infiltrating the very heart of our society: the workplace. In Australia, the effects of family and domestic violence on the workplace have been steadily gaining recognition as organisations strive to create safe and supportive environments for their employees. This article delves into the far-reaching consequences of this issue and the importance of addressing it within the Australian context.

The Prevalence of Family and Domestic Violence in Australia

Australia has been grappling with the profound impact of family and domestic violence for years. Statistics from various studies and government reports paint a troubling picture, with one in six women and one in 16 men experiencing domestic violence since the age of 15. In 2021 alone, over 100,000 domestic violence incidents were reported to the police, with countless more going unreported.

Effects of Domestic Violence on Employees and Workplace Productivity

For victims of family and domestic violence, the workplace can become both a refuge and a battleground. The emotional and physical toll of such violence can lead to reduced productivity, absenteeism, and presenteeism – where employees show up for work physically but are mentally and emotionally absent. Fear, anxiety, and stress associated with abusive situations can affect concentration, decision-making, and overall job performance, amplifying the negative impact on businesses.

Employer Responsibilities and Legal Obligations

Recognizing the need for action, significant steps to address family and domestic violence in the Australian workplace. The Fair Work Act was updated in 2022 to include a provision that grants eligible employees access to paid family and domestic violence leave. This crucial measure allows victims to take the time they need to deal with the situation without fearing job loss.

The Fair Work Act was also amended to make flexible work arrangements available to eligible employees in circumstances of family and domestic violence.

In addition, Australia has introduced it’s “Respect@Work” legislation applying new “positive duties” on employers in regard to managing sexual harassment issues in the workplace. You can read more about the “Respect at Work” Legislation in our blog article – New Sexual Harassment legislation.

Supportive Measures in the Workplace

Organisations are increasingly realizing that supporting employees who are experiencing family and domestic violence is not just an act of compassion but also good for business. Creating a culture of empathy and understanding enables employees to feel valued and secure, which can lead to improved morale and higher productivity.


Family and domestic violence is a deeply concerning issue that extends its reach into the Australian workplace, impacting employees’ well-being and productivity. By recognizing the signs, offering support, and implementing proactive policies, employers can contribute to a safer and more compassionate work environment.

Together, we must stand against this hidden scourge, breaking the cycle of violence and fostering workplaces where victims can find solace, understanding, and the support they need to heal. By doing so, we not only protect our colleagues but also contribute to a stronger and more resilient Australian workforce.

Need Assistance?

A great place for resources is the Fair Work Ombudsman’s website addressing Family and Domestic Violence Leave – Paid family and domestic violence leave – Fair Work Ombudsman

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