1. Purpose

To outline South East Water’s commitment to supporting employees and customers who may be experiencing the effects of domestic and family violence.

This policy confirms South East Water’s responsibilities relating to: privacy of information; employee information and the support available; and the initiatives and financial assistance offered to customers via the Customer Care team.

2. Scope of Policy

This policy applies to all South East Water employees and customers.

3. What this means for us

Our commitment to Safety and Wellbeing aligns with our values:

  • We put safety first
  • We care
  • We’re real

It’s also a key focus area in our Wellbeing Strategy and our safety and wellbeing plans.

4. Definitions

Family violence is defined under the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 (Vic) as:

(a) behaviour by a person towards a family member of that person if that behaviour:

(i) is physically or sexually abusive; or (ii) is emotionally or psychologically abusive; or

(iii) is economically abusive; or

(iv) is threatening; or

(v) is coercive; or

(vi) in any other way controls or dominates the family member and causes that family member to feel fear for the safety or wellbeing of that family member or another person; or

(b) behaviour by a person that causes a child to hear or witness, or otherwise be exposed to the effects of, behaviour referred to in paragraph (a)

5. Policy Statement

South East Water is committed to promoting the health, safety and wellbeing of its employees and customers. Any employee or customer who is experiencing or is impacted by family violence will be supported in line with this policy. Our commitment is to:

  • Provide proactive, timely and sensitive support so that employees can continue to participate in a safe and supportive work environment and ensure they are not unnecessarily or unreasonably disadvantaged.
  • Recognise that people of any gender can be affected by family violence and that the impact is not restricted to private life but can extend to the work environment.
  • Provide a supportive environment where employees and customers can safely and confidentially report, disclose and request support for family violence related concerns in accordance with the mechanisms outlined in our procedures.
  • South East Water will provide appropriate and on-going training and information to all employees. Training modules will be determined based on individual roles, to identify, refer and support any customer or employee experiencing or impacted by family violence.
5.1 Training

South East Water will provide appropriate and on-going training and information to all employees. Training modules will be determined based on individual roles, to identify, refer and support any customer or employee experiencing or impacted by family violence.

5.2 Leave provisions

Employees who are experiencing or are impacted by family violence may access the following leave provisions:

  • Paid special leave for medical appointments, counselling, legal proceedings and other related activities. Paid special leave will be in addition to existing leave entitlements. 
  • Casual employees will be supported with leave arrangements however are not entitled to paid special leave. 
  • Employees who are supporting another individual who is experiencing family violence may access personal/carer’s leave.
5.3 Secure handling of information

Any customer or employee identified as experiencing or being impacted by family violence will have their information and account details handled in such a way that maintains and protects privacy and confidentiality, including any personal information or account requests.

5.4 Customer Care program

Customers impacted by family violence will be managed by our Customer Care Team. Each customer will be offered a tailored solution and support options. Whilst customers are being supported they will be provided individual case management, where practicable, to minimise repeat disclosure.

5.5 Debt management

Any customer identified as being impacted by family violence will have no action taken on their account while being managed by the Customer Care team. The account will be re-called from any in-house or third party collections activity and no restrictions of water supply will be processed. The customer will have full access to all financial support options available. These may include:

  • Payment plans
  • More time to pay
  • Debt waivers
  • Government grants
  • Financial counselling

Each case will be handled by the Customer Care team with customer’s safety and privacy given priority. All customers, including those with joint accounts, will have their circumstances reviewed and an outcome reached based on the safety and privacy of both parties.

Should any customer re-present with further hardship or vulnerability issues, they will be immediately referred back to the Customer Care team.

5.6 Privacy and rights 

Any personal information provided by employees will be used solely for the purpose of assessing the employee’s needs and applying the appropriate support mechanisms as agreed with the employee.

South East Water will seek to protect employees and their support person as relevant, from discrimination or victimisation because of their disclosure or experience of family violence.

Customer information will be treated with the utmost respect and trust when they disclose any information relating to their experiences with family violence, and as such we recognise our role to protect this. Our systems, specialist team and leaders are set up to provide support through our separate Customer Care team, with family violence cases identified and locked for access only by this team.

This policy will be provided to any customer upon request.

6. Related Policies

BS 2450 Safety and Wellbeing Policy 

7. Legislative Compliance
  • Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) 
  • Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic) 
  • Personal Safety Intervention Orders Act 2010 (Vic) 
  • Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth) 
  • South East Water Employee Enterprise Agreement
8. Approval

Approved by: Executive Management

Approved on: 14 April 2021

Sponsors: People and Safety General Manager Customer & Community Engagement General Manager

Implementation: Manager Safety and Wellbeing

Review date: 14 April 2023