When Kristy McKellar shared her story of family violence during a session with the Male Champions of Change in 2016, she saw firsthand the potential in opening the hearts and minds of powerful CEOs.
Australia Post CEO Ahmed Fahour was the first ‘Champion’ to approach her after the event, and he quickly expressed a desire for the organisation to partner with her to continue the conversation and drive action.
That conversation led to Australia Post this week announcing a new initiative to support victims of domestic violence: a free mail redirection service for up to 12 months.
Speaking about that conversation at the launch of the initiative at Australia Post headquarters in Melbourne on Tuesday, Kristy described how it was “clearly a personal reflection for him (Ahmed)” rather than just a heartfelt gesture alone.
She believes that by having the opportunity to connect “the head to the heart” of each of the “champions” she spoke in front of, helped motivate them to address both broad and specific changes they could make within their own organisations.
“I witnessed varied reactions, conveying to me that for some, this topic was quite foreign territory, some found it overwhelming and others even feeling unable to stay in the session as they were so confronted by the realities.”
Kristy says Australia Post’s move is an excellent example of what can be done by using our collective passion and commitment to seeing improved workplace services in turn work to improve lives.
She also believes survivor input is essential in policy design and reform processes. “Survivors have lived the intimate journey and are aware of the failures and gaps, therefore considering the bigger picture together. This translates into delivering consistent, reliable and targeted workplace responses.”
Kristy’s own workplace had the potential to assist her through her journey, but she says it didn’t have the required understanding, nor the mechanisms and culture in place, to support workplace change.
“The conversation was not invited in my organisation, it was not normalised and I did not feel any support could be offered.- therefore effectively, my workplace silenced me in the very place I spent most of my time, the place where I could potentially seek help safely or access information confidentiality.”
She said she would have benefited from her workplace investing in safety and support structures around her.
“I was forced to leave my home due to no longer feeling safe m, as the perpetrator continued to breach the intervention order, on one occasion attending the house. Therefore I was faced with the process and mail re-direction and how confronting this process was, having to explain my situation and ensuring the Australian Post staff understood how integral it was to keep my new address and other relevant information secure and confidential.”
More specifically, she noted the financial burden of applying for mail re-direction. “When you have been financially depleted through family violence, the reality is at times you are faced with making a decision to delaying something that will give you piece of mind and security as you need to prioritise purchasing nappies or formula for your child, which no one should have face, fearing their information may be seen by their perpetrator, placing them at potential risk again.”
As Kristy said, by better understanding family violence, we can also become part of the solution.
“I can not change what happened to me, but the great part is I can now influence change so others never have to experience the lack of understanding or barriers I faced.”
If you need help or support with sexual assault or domestic or family violence, contact 188 RESPECT.