Gippsland Water is helping to stamp-out family violence with specialised training for employees to identify and help customers in distress.
The authority launched its new family violence policies, offering financial assistance and other support options to customers affected by family violence at a special White Ribbon Day event on Friday, where Quantum Support Service staff discussed the frontline of family violence, and outlined local services for people in crisis.
Gippsland Water general customer manager Paul Clark said options for customers experiencing family violence included confidentiality, referrals to support agencies and affordable payment arrangements.
“Following the Royal Commission into Family Violence, it became clear that providers of essential services, such as water corporations, have an important role to play in this widespread community issue. While we’re not counsellors, we can support people to get the help they need,” he said.
“We want our customers to know that their privacy is protected and that they won’t have to repeat their story each time they call.
“We’ve put this policy in place to help people who are vulnerable, regardless of their current financial situation.”
All Victorian water corporations are working with the Essential Services Commission to ensure there are appropriate supports in place for people experiencing family violence.
Gippsland Water managing director Sarah Cumming said she was pleased with the White Ribbon Day event turnout, and said it showed people were willing to embrace conversations about the issue.
“Employees can feel safe and supported if they feel threatened, and our people are trained to recognise if someone is at risk,” she said.
“The value of this program is that we can pick up issues early, and we know that this is an issue in the region.”
Quantum Support Services worker Tristan who could not provide her surname said the community welfare organisation received an average of 350 police referrals a month, across three local government areas.
“There is more trust in police and more support in place. Family violence has always been there, across both affluent and low-socio-economic areas,” she said.
“The more we talk about family violence, it’s not such a hidden subject, and people are more likely to reach out for help.”
People in crisis in Latrobe, Wellington and Baw Baw municipalities can call Quantum Support Services on 1800 242 455.