Sutherland Shire Family Services were delighted to be advised that their  Toolbox Talks project, which provides workplace domestic violence education and support, received extended funding as part of the NSW Government’s COVID-19 funding boost for domestic violence.

The Toolbox Talks project was launched in June 2017, when SSFS was announced as one of the successful first round applicants for the Domestic and Family Violence Innovation Fund (an initiative of the NSW Government), which funded the 3 year pilot. The scope of the pilot was to deliver face to face Domestic Violence Awareness training on Construction sites around the Greater-Sydney region. The objective being to motivate men to challenge social norms that support violence against women and children and provide them with skills on how to respond if they see, hear or suspect violence.

 The Toolbox Talks program has grown into a nationally available workplace based awareness training program that educates about domestic violence and bystander responses, promotes worker wellbeing, supports diversity and the creation of a safe working environment for women, which assists with stability of the workforce and productivity overall. The program has already been delivered to over 5,000 workers nationally across male dominated industries  and recently began offering  online sessions in response to changing workplace and safety requirements. To further support primary prevention efforts nationally, the Toolbox Talks project also now offers community centered sessions that are suitable for mixed gender work groups in any industry.

The program utilises the experience and knowledge of 30 years of frontline support work to provide a practical program covering education that help harness the positive influence of men in the fight against alarming national domestic violence statistics.  The feedback from the program has been positive, with this initiative seen as a motivational and non-judgmental way to engage men in the discussion about DV.

This funding extension allows for the program’s early success to be leveraged further and longer term sustainability measures to be implemented. SSFS CEO Ashleigh Daines commented

Being awarded this funding extension is a wonderful recognition of the success of the Toolbox Talks pilot and the confidence the NSW Government has in Sutherland Shire Family Services to deliver quality programs that leverage our in-house expertise, and the substantial work that Sutherland Shire Family Services does in building awareness within the community about the various types of domestic violence, and providing support to families in need”.

Project Manager, Jade Lindsay, who has led the program for the last 2 years with a team of trainers said

“The team are delighted that this funding boost allows the continuation of what is a much needed program. The success of the pilot is due largely to the willingness of forward thinking workplaces to engage this kind of training for their staff.  Violence against women in Australia is a pervasive and serious issue, impacting 1 in 3 women in their lifetime. Extensive research indicates that inequality drives violence against women globally, with violence against women disempowering them, restricting their ability to fully engage in society, maintaining inequality. Thus, a key factor in the elimination of violence against women, and their children, is equality. Equality can be supported through improved diversity in the workplace which fosters an environment which women come to be valued, and the negative views and behaviour towards women challenged. “

As a result of the funding boost, for a limited time, the Toolbox Talks team are offering free DV Awareness and Training sessions for male dominated workgroups across NSW, which can be delivered onsite or online. Eligibility criteria apply. The team are also offering free Community Training sessions (while Covid-19 restrictions continue to apply) for anyone wanting to know more about identifying and responding to domestic violence. More information is available at the Toolbox Talks Website – www.toolboxtalks.org.au