Vital Domestic Abuse Workplace Policy Launched to Support Trust Staff

8th March 2024

The South Eastern Health & Social Care Trust has launched a vital workplace policy on Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence on International Women’s Day.

Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence affects countless people across all walks of life.  The repercussions can extend far beyond the confines of the home.  The Trust has a diverse workforce comprising 12,500 staff, with 80% of them women and it knows how crucial it is to support anyone suffering Domestic Abuse.

Statistics reveal that one in four women and one in six men will encounter Domestic Abuse in their lifetime, highlighting the need for a comprehensive workplace policy.

The event held in the Great Hall in Downshire in Downpatrick,  brought together a diverse range of speakers representing the Trust, PSNI, Safeguarding Board NI, Women’s Aid, The Rainbow Project, Men’s Advisory Project and Trade Unions.  A range of issues were discussed providing advice on services that can be put in place if a staff member discloses that they are being abused, including the role of the PSNI in supporting victims of abuse and advice.

A number of dedicated staff across the Trust have received specialised training to serve as ‘Domestic Abuse Champions’. These champions offer peer support, lending a compassionate ear and guiding colleagues who need practical help to ensure their safety and well-being. Sometimes confiding in a colleague can be easier rather than a line manager due to misplaced feelings of self-blame, embarrassment and shame.

The policy pledges to provide essential assistance to employees facing Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence, including salary advancements, facilitated time off for legal and medical appointments in compliance with the new Domestic Abuse (Safe Leave) Act and office base relocation where necessary. Recognising the complexities involved in leaving an abusive relationship, the Trust remains vigilant to the risk of post-separation and the possibility of abusers targeting victims in the workplace.

Trust Chief Executive, Roisin Coulter opened the event and she emphasised the importance of providing support to staff who are the backbone of the Trust. “It is important that we work collectively to maximise our knowledge, skills and resources to help prevent Domestic Abuse, while supporting our staff who may be living with Domestic Abuse.

“Domestic Abuse knows no boundaries. It affects people from all walks of life and from all cultural and ethnic backgrounds.

I am committed along with Trust Board to support staff who are experiencing Domestic Abuse. We need to move forward together with a renewed responsibility to support our staff to stay safe.”

The Director of People and Organisational Development, Claire Smyth stressed, “This is such an important policy which is for all our staff, men and women alike. The Domestic Abuse Workplace Policy reinforces the South Eastern Trust’s commitment to address Domestic Abuse, break the cycle of silence and extend a lifeline of support to those in need within the workforce.”

The Director of Children’s Services Lyn Preece said she was delighted to attend the event and she hoped the policy would really help any member of staff who has suffered or who is suffering Domestic Abuse. “They need to know there is support there for them and understanding. They should never feel that they are alone.”


Chair of the South Eastern Area Domestic & Sexual Violence and Abuse Partnership, Sheila Simons said she was delighted to support the launch of the workplace policy on Domestic Abuse within the Trust. “Very often staff within the Trust who deliver Health & Social Care services come across victims of Domestic & Sexual Abuse in their workload, yet the reality of this is some staff may also have experienced or are experiencing Domestic Abuse and coercive control in their own lives. This launch highlights the Trust’s commitment to care for its staff.”