As one of the region’s largest employers, AGL is a prominent part of the Gippsland community.

Drive a couple of hours east of Melbourne, and amid the lush green hills of the Latrobe Valley our Loy Yang power station can be seen, working away to help light up more than two million homes each year.

But the Latrobe Valley has a darker side.

Police statistics reveal that it has the highest rate of family violence incidents of any region in Victoria.

At AGL, we refuse to be bystanders. Men account for 90% of the employees at Loy Yang, and we know we can play a part in stamping out domestic violence.

Mark Waller is a Capital Projects Manager at Loy Yang. He has seen the devastating consequences of domestic violence suffered by women in his life.

‘I’ve seen the behaviour of some men, and I haven’t liked what I’ve seen,’ he said.

Two years ago Mark, along with colleagues Debra DeCarli and Sheryrn Linton, established AGL’s Family and Domestic Violence (FDV) working group.

Stakeholder Relations Manager Renee Kurowski and Capital Projects Manager Mark Waller at AGL Loy Yang

Two years ago Mark, along with colleagues Debra DeCarli and Sheryrn Linton, established AGL’s Family and Domestic Violence (FDV) working group.

Mark is now one of the site’s ‘male champions’, having undergone training aimed at providing education and guidance for his colleagues.

He wants to change the culture at work and in the broader community. That means providing education and guidance for his colleagues, being a positive role model, and calling out unacceptable behaviour when he sees it.

Mark is a familiar and well-respected face in the Gippsland community. He was a member of Morwell’s 1993 premiership football side, and a Hawaiian Ironman competitor. He’s now bringing his local influence to an issue that has been described as a national crisis.

He can sense that attitudes towards violence are improving, as more people feel empowered to speak up when they see or hear something that worries them.

’When men see other men taking a stand on domestic violence, and they hear it from someone who is well known in the community and at work, it’s a powerful message,’ said Renee Kurowski, AGL’s Stakeholder Relations Manager.

’It’s important [that] men are part of the conversation and solution to domestic violence. It’s important that men see other men taking a stand in this area,’ she said.

It’s just one way we’re trying to tackle family violence

In 2015, AGL introduced its Family and Domestic Violence Support Policy – which includes special leave and flexible work arrangements to support employees experiencing domestic violence. A support helpline, information on the employee intranet, family and domestic violence training, and a partnership with Gippsland Women’s Health are some of the initiatives now in place.

We’ve also rolled out measures to assist affected customers. Statistics show that one in three women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by someone known to them, while one average, one woman is murdered by a current or former partner every week.

Speaking on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women last November, AGL CEO Brett Redman said family and domestic violence was one of the biggest issues facing Australia. ‘The statistics are staggering,’ he said.

‘We all have a role to play in fostering a safe environment and supporting our customers and people who are directly impacted.

‘We’ve introduced extra security measures to help protect our customers’ privacy in this situation and more than 1,500 of our people have also been through our Safe Space – Family and Domestic Violence training.’

This is important and that’s why we’re taking action

As a large ASX-listed employer and an essential service provider, we acknowledge our responsibility to lead by example, that’s why:

  • All contact centre employees receive specialised training on how to assist customers experiencing family violence, both in terms of account security and referral to external assistance services.
  • AGL employees are offered access to the Family and Domestic Violence Training program. Training is offered as separate leader and employee workshops with an aim to build awareness about the impact of family and domestic violence, know how to recognise the signs of someone who may need support, and how to confidently respond in a caring and inclusive way.

Consistent with our values of fostering a workplace that is safe and inclusive of all, AGL is committed to supporting our people and customers who are affected by family and domestic violence by raising awareness and providing practical support.

To discover more about how Mark and Renee are working to protect families in the Latrobe Valley, pick up a copy of the Australian Women’s Weekly from 20 June.