November 23, 2017

Fonterra launches initiative to address family violence

Fonterra has joined with Shine and Women’s Refuge to launch a programme to raise awareness about family violence and provide support services for any of its 12,000+ New Zealand employees who may need help.

A new family violence policy sets out how the Co-operative will aim to create a safe and supportive environment at work, while also enabling team members impacted by family violence to take up to 10 days of additional paid leave per year to attend health appointments, legal proceedings or other activities relating to family violence.

Fonterra’s Managing Director People and Culture Joanne Fair says businesses have a huge role to play in tackling what is one of New Zealand’s biggest social issues.

“We want to play our part in getting our people the help they need, as the workplace is often a safe place from violence at home. This initiative is about making family violence OK to talk about within our organisation and ensuring our people know help is readily available if needed. If we can make a difference in the lives of victims, supporters of victims and users of family violence who want to change, then we’ll also make a difference for their families and the communities they live in.”

New Zealand has the highest reported rate of family violence in the developed world. Every four-and-a-half minute's police are called out to a domestic violence-related incident. One in three women experience physical and/or sexual violence from a partner in their lifetime, and men can be victims too.

“Careful handling of the first contact from a victim when they seek help is critical so we’re grateful for the support of Shine who have advised us on policy and provided workplace support training to some of our employees across the country. Women’s Refuge has also assisted us with critical information to help everyone know what family violence looks like and how to respond when someone seeks help,” says Ms Fair.

Shine’s Communications Manager Holly Carrington says; “With Fonterra’s size and reach, our DVFREE programme for business has the potential to directly help thousands of Kiwis – and their children – to have safer and better lives.

“DVFREE provides a structured approach to help employers make workplaces safe and supportive for staff experiencing domestic violence. For instance, if someone working for Fonterra is being abused by their partner, they will now know there is someone at work they can talk to in confidence about their situation, and that they will be supported to get through a difficult time and stay safe at work.”

Chief Executive of Women’s Refuge Dr Ang Jury says; “When you consider that people spend over eight hours a day in a work environment, having a comprehensive policy and the tools to assist the people experiencing it and those in the workplace supporting them will go a long way in ensuring that both victims and perpetrators of family violence are getting the extra help they need.

“We’re proud to partner with Fonterra and to help them move their family violence policy into a space where it will be significant in helping staff who may be experiencing family violence.”

The programme will initially be rolled out to Fonterra’s New Zealand workforce. Fonterra will then take the learnings and look at how they might apply to its offshore operations. The Co-operative is also recognising White Ribbon Day on 25 November through fundraising activities and white ribbons on some of its tankers.