Better practice in responding to family violence
- Principle One: Develop an informed approach that works for the organisation
- Principle Two: Lead from the top and demonstrate accountability
- Principle Three: Prioritise safety and choice for victim-survivors
- Principle Four: Build a culture of awareness, internally and externally
- Principle Five: Acknowledge and address barriers to access
Better practice in responding to family violencePublished 06 August 2019
A message from the commission
In the past three years since the 2016 Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence made its recommendations, the Essential Services Commission has worked closely with businesses in the water and energy sectors on initiatives aimed at improving the well-being of Victorian consumers affected by family violence. Through our codes we have set minimum requirements that energy and water retailers must meet when they are providing assistance to customers affected by family violence. But the work doesn’t end there.
Responding to family violence is not a ‘check-box, one-size fits all’ exercise. While energy and water retailers must have a family violence policy in place, and meet minimum standards on staff training, account security, debt management and customer service, businesses will also need to account for unforeseeable circumstances their customers will experience. Providers of essential services like energy and water will need systems and processes in place that support wellbeing and build trust with their customers. This is why we have put together the better practice guide.
The guide is the result of extensive collaboration with energy and water businesses, the community sector, and other related organisations. We are grateful for the cooperative, empathetic and enthusiastic approach of all our contributors regardless of the sector they represent.
The guide is not a compliance guide, but an exploration of the broad initiatives already taken by energy and water companies, and across other sectors, to assist customers affected by family violence. Through the guide, we hope to foster a continuation of innovation beyond the minimum standards, and to inspire business practice towards continual improvement.
This guide is in addition to other resources we have prepared over the last three years, including a paper we first developed in 2017 for water businesses, Moving towards better practice. That paper was specifically developed to support water businesses implement the first sector wide response to family violence by a Victorian essential service. Other resources include our 2018 issues paper in which we first explored principles and actions needed to support business to implement safe and effective responses, and presentation materials from our 2018 and 2019 workshop series.
Giving victim-survivors the latitude to manage their own personal and financial security requires a sustained effort by the whole community— there is an ongoing responsibility on all of us to continue to do what we can to influence improved outcomes for vulnerable customers. We hope that with this guide, and through our future work program, we can build on the momentum of the last three years and that businesses will find inspiration to continue in their commitment to improving services to those who are most in need of safe, understanding and appropriate assistance.