Supporting victim-survivors of family and domestic violence and abuse


It’s estimated that one in six women and one in 16 men have experienced physical or sexual violence from a current or previous partner that they’ve lived with since the age of 15. Many are concerned that these figures have risen during COVID-19 lockdowns.

With almost 4 million Bupa Health Insurance customers nation-wide, it is inevitable that some may be experiencing Family and Domestic Violence and Abuse (FDVA).

As frontline services continue their incredible work across our community, businesses like Bupa have an increasing and important role to play in providing practical support to those impacted, according to Bupa Customer Advocate Maria Crocker.

“We know that domestic abuse isn’t only physical. Family violence can also involve limiting a person’s access to money, services and controlling their financial decision making.

“We’ve seen situations where health insurance customers have aspects of their cover removed or payments might be stopped altogether without their knowledge. This can be really distressing, particularly when people realise their access to certain health and care services may be restricted or withdrawn.

Bupa has worked with women’s information and referral group WIRE who supported with the development of guidance material for its customer-support teams, with specialised training on how to identify and assist those who may be impacted by family and domestic violence and abuse planned for the near future.

“The training is designed to help our teams identify when abuse may be occurring, be alert to how this may be affecting our customers, and to be proactive in providing support where we can.

“As part of this work, we’ve also made it easier for our team members to adjust a customer’s insurance, making sure they have the cover they’re after while protecting their privacy and safety,” Ms Crocker said.

Bupa’s digital teams have also been equipped with the skills to be able to help customers over WhatsApp or other messaging apps at a time that suits them, recognising that it may not always be safe or easy for customers to have these conversations over the phone.

There are also a number of measures in place, including financial hardship support, to help ease any additional stress for customers who may be experiencing FDVA and to ensure they can maintain the health cover they need.

“We know that abuse can be an extremely triggering topic for many, including our own team members. We have guided our people as they participate in this training by offering one-on-one support, and professional assistance where necessary through our Workplace Wellbeing team. Bupa team members are also entitled to 20 days paid family and domestic violence leave should they need it,” Ms Crocker said.

If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, family or domestic violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit www.1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000. If you are worried about your behaviour, call Mensline on 1300 789 978 or visit mensline.org.au.