International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women: Victoria’s Social Procurement Framework
This International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women, Our Watch, a national organisation in preventing violence against women in Australia tweets:
Everyone can #dosomething to promote #genderequality
Everyone can #dosomething to call out sexism and disrespect
Everyone can #dosomething to eliminate violence against women
Everyone can and everyone must
Today, we at CourtHeath are proud to #dosomething to highlight how Victoria’s social procurement framework encourages government suppliers in Victoria to #dosomething.
With 50 women known to be murdered in Australia so far this year, according to Our Watch, there are many more living with violence and abuse. Our Watch Chair Natasha Stott Despoja says, “When everyday sexism and disrespect go unchallenged, it is normalised, excused and tolerated. The research evidence tells us that disrespectful attitudes and behaviours are part of the culture that can drive violence against women." [Source: Our Watch]
Of the seven social procurement objectives in Victoria’s social procurement framework, one is specifically dedicated to Women’s equality and safety. Linked to that objective are two outcomes:
- Adoption of family violence leave by Victorian Government suppliers
- Gender equality within Victorian Government suppliers
Social procurement is when organisations use their buying power to generate social value above and beyond the value of the goods, services or construction being procured. In the Victorian Government context, social value means the benefits that accrue to all Victorians when the social and sustainable outcomes in this Framework are achieved.
The social procurement objective of Women’s equality and safety, and its related outcomes, are now commonly being included in social procurement criteria in Victorian Government procurements and may contribute 10% – and sometimes more – to the scoring of a tender response. This incentivises suppliers to include and promote in their tender responses how they contribute and exceed their legal requirements with respect to Women’s equality and safety.
According to the Fair Work Ombudsman, most people who experience family and domestic violence are in paid employment. Indeed, in December 2018 it became law under Australia’s Fair Work Act for employers to allow employees dealing with the impact of family and domestic violence to:
- take unpaid family and domestic violence leave
- request flexible working arrangements
- take paid or unpaid personal/carer’s leave, in certain circumstances.
In the Employer Guide to Family and Domestic Violence, the Fair Work Ombudsman highlights that the benefits of the legislation are mutual:
Family and domestic violence is not only a private or personal issue. It affects a person’s ability to lead a productive life and affects children, families and the community.
When an employee is living with family and domestic violence, they often experience heightened financial stress, homelessness, isolation, vulnerability and even a sense of shame. Without appropriate support, there can be many implications for workplaces. Knowledge, awareness and planning can help employers support their employees, meet their workplace obligations and protect their workplaces.
Our Watch Chair Natasha Stott Despoja says that workplaces are particularly important as they help to set social norms and provide support – noting that most family violence victims are in paid employment, businesses can be significant influencers. The Victorian government SPF is expecting its suppliers to demonstrate commitment for their family violence accountabilities.
There are many benefits for a workplace when the health, safety and wellbeing of employees are prioritised. The benefits to employers responding to family and domestic violence that impacts the workplace can include:
- improved outcomes for employees affected by family or domestic violence
- improved productivity, staff engagement and work satisfaction
- reduced illness and absenteeism
- reduced staff turnover, resulting in lower recruitment and training costs
- reduced legal liabilities.
By adopting a family violence leave policy that meets and exceeds that required by law, Victorian Government suppliers are helping Victorian Government leverage positive outcomes for all Victorians and improving their prospects of winning government work through the social procurement framework.
The Fair Work Ombudsman: Employer Guide to Family and Domestic Violence provides a wealth of information to employers, including how to create a workplace response to family and domestic violence.
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A participant in the UN Global Compact, CourtHeath seeks to raise awareness about the Sustainable Development Goals and the principles of the Global Compact with business and government organisations in Victoria.
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Image: UN Women
Julia Cornwell-McKean and Pauline Bernard.
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socialjustice, socialprocurement, vicgovsuppliers