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Factors that might impact an employee’s experience of family and domestic violence

Key takeaways

  1. Access to housing, financial independence, personal factors, access to support services and life experiences can all impact a person's vulnerability to and experience of family and domestic violence.
  2. You can support employees by talking with them, and ensuring they know the leave entitlements, policies and support pathways available to them, regardless of whether or not they choose to disclose their experience to you.

Family and domestic violence can occur regardless of race, gender, religion, ability, education, socio-economic circumstances, or sexual orientation. Everyone’s experiences are unique.

  • Understanding factors that might shape a person’s experience of family and domestic violence can help you to better support your staff.

Certain factors can particularly impact a person’s vulnerability to and experience of family and domestic violence. These include: 

  • access to housing
  • financial independence
  • personal factors
  • access to support services
  • life experiences.

Experiencing multiple factors can increase risk and make it more complicated for employees to disclose their experience of family and domestic violence.

An overview of how these factors may impact people is below, with links to further reading and external supports to help you respond to the unique circumstances and experiences of employees.

Click here for more information.

Access to housing

  • Family and domestic violence is the number one cause of homelessness for women.
  • A lack of housing options can make it harder for people to leave abusive situations, and may worsen experiences of trauma and dislocation.

Click here for more information.

Financial independence

  • Having no, limited or restricted access to money can make it harder for someone experiencing abuse to leave a violent relationship or access specialist support services.
  • Limited funds, existing debt, and poor credit can make it difficult to obtain rental housing and pay for other expenses like bills, groceries, and school fees.

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Personal factors

  • Some people may face additional challenges understanding and accessing available supports.
  • Concerns about whether support will be safe and inclusive may impact whether people choose to access supports.
  • Factors like English language skills or disability may impact a person’s ability to access and understand information and support services.
  • Cultural norms may impact how people perceive family and domestic violence and whether they choose to access supports.

For more information, see 1800RESPECT and National Domestic and Family Violence Bench Book.

Access to support services

  • Factors like remoteness can impact the range and availability of support services that some people are able to access.
  • People with additional support needs may face greater challenges accessing support services.

For more information, see Australian Institute of Family Studies and 1800RESPECT.

Life experiences

  • Significant life events may be additional stressors that impact people’s experience of family and domestic violence.
  • Such life events may include:
    • pregnancy
    • caring responsibilities
    • relationship changes
    • serious accident or illness
    • court proceedings
    • moving home
    • death of a loved one
    • changes to employment.

For more information, see Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and Evidence-based risk factors and the MARAM risk assessment tools.

What can you do if you think your employee is experiencing family and domestic violence?

If you’re worried about an employee, talk to them. The Tips for talking to your employee resource provides useful information to help you prepare for the conversation. 

Remember, victim-survivors may not want to disclose their experience to you. You can support all employees by:  

  • offering regular one-to-one check-ins where work and non-work topics are discussed
  • providing information about the business’s FDV leave policy and the confidentiality of their personal information
  • building awareness of the signs of family and domestic violence
  • building awareness of referral pathways.

What supports can you refer your employees to?

There are a range of specialised supports available that reflect the diverse experiences of victim-survivors. Check out the Referral pathways for employees experiencing family and domestic violence page.

1800RESPECT is a 24-hour national sexual assault, family and domestic violence counselling line for any Australian who has experienced, or is at risk of, family and domestic violence and/or sexual assault. They are experienced at making referrals to relevant support services and have translating and interpreter services available. Phone: 1800 737 732 or visit 1800respect.org.au.


For further advice on family and domestic violence see 1800RESPECT or call 1800 737 732.

For further advice about your workplace rights or information about how to deal with workplace disputes, refer to the Fair Work Ombudsman or call 13 13 94.