1. Purpose

South East Water understands the significant impact family violence has on our customers, employees and the community we serve. We’re committed to ensuring customers and employees experiencing family violence have access to support when they need it and in a way the best meets their individual circumstances.

We recognise the important responsibility we have in working together with government, corporate and the community sector to support those affected by family violence to improve outcomes for customers, employees and the community.

South East Water’s domestic and family violence policy outlines our approach to supporting customers and employees experiencing family violence. Recognising the many barriers to disclosure, we take people at their word and commit to providing support and protections for those experiencing family violence, regardless of whether they have disclosed their circumstances to us.

We seek to create a safe and supportive environment by treating our customers unique situations with respect, empathy and sensitivity. In line with our Safety First mindset, customer and employee safety and wellbeing will always be our focus.

2. Scope of Policy

This policy applies to all South East Water customers and employees experiencing or affected by domestic and family violence.

Financial assistance

If you're struggling to pay your bills, need some support, or are experiencing family violence,  we're here to help.

3. Our Commitment

To support customers experiencing family violence, we’re committed to:

  • Ensuring customers and employees are aware of and can easily access support through South East Water.
  • Protecting the privacy, safety and confidentiality of customer and employee information.
  • Providing sensitive and tailored support in consultation with our customers and employees to achieve positive outcomes.
  • Empowering customers, with our support to manage the financial impacts associated with family violence.
  • Connecting customers and employees with expert support via referral services.
  • Increasing awareness of family violence and the impacts on customers, employees and our community.
  • Continuing to build internal capability to support customers and employees through effective and ongoing specialist training.

4. Definitions

Family violence is defined under the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 (Vic) as:

(a) behaviour by a person towards a family member of that person if that behaviour:

(i)  is physically or sexually abusive; or

(ii) is emotionally or psychologically abusive; or

(iii) is economically abusive; or

(iv) is threatening; or

(v) is coercive; or

(vi) in any other way controls or dominates the family member and causes that family member to feel fear for the safety or wellbeing of that family member or another person; or

(b) behaviour by a person that causes a child to hear or witness, or otherwise be exposed to the effects of, behaviour referred to in paragraph (a).

5. Customer Support

5.1 Accessing support at South East Water

South East Water has a specialist Customer Care team dedicated to supporting our customers experiencing family violence, vulnerability and hardship. Our trained team members work with customers to tailor the support options that best meet their unique circumstances.

We appreciate that when experiencing family violence, having to retell your story can be difficult and cause trauma. The complexity of family violence situations also means that it may not always be safe to disclose this information.

Direct line – Customer Care

In respect of these challenges, customers experiencing family violence can contact our Customer Care team directly on 03 9552 3540

Case Manager

Where possible a Case Manager from our Customer Care team will be assigned to your account, meaning that wherever possible you will speak with the same team member who understands your situation. and so you don't have to re-tell your story.

5.2 Protecting your privacy, safety and confidentiality

We understand that customers experiencing family violence are entrusting South East Water with sensitive information and expect that all steps will be taken to protect your privacy, safety and confidentiality.

We acknowledge the importance of customers having confidence that information they share with South East Water about their situation is not disclosed to perpetrators. 

South East Water have put in place additional measures to meet these objectives.

Immediate safety support

If there is an immediate safety risk or concern for customers, their children or our employees, we will contact local police or call triple zero (000) for assistance.

Application of a safety flag

Once your account is transitioned to the Customer Care team, a flag will be applied alerting our teams that all enquiries which relate to your account are to be transferred through to our Customer Care team. 

The flag will also disable access to your account via the South East Water portal to prevent perpetrators, particularly in the case of joint accounts from accessing information. Any requests for information will also be directed to our Customer Care team who are trained to effectively manage perpetrator interactions and protect the privacy, safety and confidentiality of customers experiencing family violence.

Additional identification checks

We understand that for joint accounts, perpetrators can have access to personal information that allows them to pass routine verification and identification checks. With this in mind, our additional identification check process can be activated on your account to ensure your information and safety is protected. Additional, identification checks may include a password.

5.3 Sensitive and tailored support options

South East Water recognises the complex nature of family violence situations. This means that customers may benefit from a variety of support options. Our Customer Care team will work with you to understand your needs and tailor a support plan that best meets your individual circumstances. 

Whilst our Customer Care team is unable to provide professional counselling support, they can:

  • Actively listen with empathy and without judgement
  • Acknowledge your disclosure and check that you are not in immediate harm
  • Apply extra account protections to further protect your privacy, safety and confidentiality
  • Assist by working with you to develop a suitable support plan
  • Refer you to other external support agencies for further assistance
5.4 Debt management

Family violence can include financial abuse with perpetrators often avoiding responsibility for debt and leaving their current or former partners with significant financial liabilities. This is especially problematic for debts attached to accounts held jointly with the perpetrator.

If you identify that you are affected by family violence, we will immediately pause debt collection activity on your account (including no additional debt collection costs or interest) and ensure that your water supply is not restricted because of the debt.

Our Customer Care team will work with you to understand your needs and tailor an approach to managing your debt that takes into account your circumstances and capacity to pay. Debt assistance options may include:

  • Affordable and flexible payment plans
  • More time to pay payment arrangements
  • Facilitating access to government grants and assistance programs (like the Utility Relief Grant Scheme) through referrals and application assistance
  • Referrals to external support services including financial counselling
  • Debt relief

Debt Relief

Additional support options are available for customers experiencing family violence to manage debt owed to South East Water. Once a customer identifies as being impacted by family violence, South East Water may waive or suspend all or part of your debt based on a number of factors, including:

  • The amount of the debt
  • The circumstances in which the debt was incurred (including if it was incurred as a result of financial abuse)
  • Whether the debt should have been raised
  • What payment assistance options have been (or could be) effective
  • The customer’s personal circumstances and capacity to pay the debt.

If your circumstances change, our Customer Care team will work with you to ensure that the debt assistance applied to your account adapts accordingly.

Joint accounts

We understand that customers on joint accounts may face additional barriers to accessing debt assistance, particularly where the other person on the account is a perpetrator. This may include not having access to financial information, being unaware of a debt and being apprehensive about the prospect of coming into contact with the perpetrator.

Even if only one account holder is affected by family violence, we will immediately pause all debt collection activity on joint accounts (including no additional debt collection costs or interest) and ensure that your water supply is not restricted because of the debt.

To remove these barriers and ensure that customers on joint accounts are able to conveniently access the same debt assistance pathways as other customers affected by family violence our Customer Care team will:

  • Take steps to ensure your confidentiality is protected from other persons on the account
  • Ensure that you can access support without having any contact with the perpetrator
  • Take the same tailored approach to managing joint debts as it does for individual accounts. 
5.5 Payment Support
We recognise that family violence can cause payment difficulty. If you are affected by family violence you are eligible for payment support under South East Water’s Customer Support Policy, which describes the full range of payment assistance options available to customers experiencing payment difficulty.

Our Customer Care team will work with you to adopt an approach to managing payments that suits your circumstances and your capacity to pay. The following payment support options are available to customers affected by family violence:

  • Ensuring you receive any concession discounts you’re entitled to
  • Setting up affordable and flexible payment plan you can manage
  • Helping you apply for any government grants you may be entitled to like the Utility Relief Grant
  • Providing our own payment matching, grants and other financial incentives
  • Offering plumbing support
  • Providing advice on how to save water and reduce the cost of your bills
  • Recommending financial counsellors and community services support where needed
  • Checking in with you regularly to see if the support we’re providing is right
  • We may provide you with a digital meter to assist you in managing your water consumption.

6. Employee Support

6.1 Accessing support

We understand that employees may find it difficult to disclose their experience with family violence to their colleagues. For this reason, we provide a range of avenues for employees to seek support. Employees can speak with:

  • A member of the People, Safety and Governance team
  • Your People Leader
  • Another South East Water leader
  • A mental health first aid representative
  • A health and safety representative
  • Our Employee Assistance Provider 1300 687 327 – (consultants are available 24/7).
6.2 Protecting your privacy, safety and confidentiality

Employees are empowered to determine who they feel comfortable with sharing their story. South East Water will maintain your confidentiality by ensuring your circumstances are not discussed with any individual other than those you’ve nominated.

Additional measures can be put in place to further protect your privacy, safety and confidentially which can be discussed and agreed in consultation with you.

6.3 Support options

We recognise that experiences of family violence may affect your ability to work. South East Water is committed to supporting employees experiencing family violence by understanding individual circumstances and working with you to determine support options that best meet your needs.

Support options may include:

  • Changes to your work conditions such as hours, start and finish times and location or nature of work performed 
  • Access to additional flexible work arrangements
  • Implementing additional safety precautions such as restricting/screening any external phone calls, screening any members of the public requesting to meet with you and establishing alternate arrangements to safely enter and exit South East Water work locations. 

In addition to the above support options, all employees including casuals may access the following leave provisions:

  • Paid family violence leave for medical appointments, counselling, legal proceedings and other related activities. Paid leave will be in addition to existing leave entitlements
  • Employees supporting another individual experiencing family violence may access personal/carer’s leave. 
6.4 Awareness and Training

At South East Water we recognise that creating awareness and building capability within the organisation is the foundation to supporting customers experiencing family violence.

Our employees receive training to build awareness and understanding of issues relating to family violence, including the different types of family violence, barriers to disclosure, learning from those with lived experience and identifying indicators of people who may be experiencing family violence.

Ongoing training is provided to employees to support the continued application of this policy and related policies and procedures in relation to customers experiencing family violence.

Our customer facing teams receive additional specialist training to assist with effectively handling customer disclosures, providing support and empathy and handling perpetrator interactions. Specific technical training related to South East Water’s processes ensures we continue to build knowledge and capability across our customer facing teams to best support our customers.

7. Expert support services

South East Water is committed to connecting customers experiencing family violence with specialist family violence services who can provide expert support and advice. We acknowledge the complex nature of family violence situations and are able to provide a range of referral pathways to help you access the assistance you require.

Customers can be referred into external support networks and resources including:

Support services 


Operating hours

Contact details 


1800RESPECT is the national domestic, family and sexual violence counselling, information and support service


1800 737 732

Safe steps 
(Victoria only) 

Providing specialist support services for anyone in Victoria who is experiencing or afraid of family violence 


1800 015 188 

Family Violence Law Help

An Australian Government website providing information about domestic and family violence and the law in Australia.


1800 737 732

Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue is focused on supporting people affected by anxiety, depression and suicide.  


1300 22 4636   
webchat and email
(email response provided within 24 hours)

Kids Help Line

Counsellors are available to talk to children confidentially about any issue that is affecting or worrying them. Email or web counselling is also available from the Kids Help Line website. 


1800 551 800


Information on domestic abuse and family violence and 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention services. 


13 11 14  

Orange Door

The Orange Door provides support for adults, children and young people who are at risk of experiencing or have experienced family violence and for families needing support with the development of wellbeing needs for their children.

Mon – Fri
9:00am – 5:00pm

Bayside Peninsula
1800 319 353

Inner Eastern Melbourne
1800 354 322

Southern Melbourne
1800 271 170

Financial Counselling Victoria

Financial counsellors provide free, independent, and non-judgemental support and advocacy for people in financial difficulty.

Mon – Fri
9:00am – 5:00pm

03 9663 2000

Uniting Vic. Tas

Uniting Vic.Tas are a community service organisation of the Uniting Church, delivering services and programs across Victoria and Tasmania.

Uniting provide access to the Escape Violence Payment program of up to $5,000 for eligible individuals leaving or trying to leave an intimate partner.

Escape Violence Payment Program.

Mon – Fri
8:00am – 6:00pm

1800 864 846
Contact us
Escaping Violence Payment 

8. Continuous improvement

This policy and its associated programs will be reviewed on an ongoing basis to ensure these adequately meet and reflect the changing needs of our customers and employees.

This approach is to ensure our support remains flexible and can adjust to meet the needs of the community. Recognising that customers and employees may need a variety of support and information, South East Water is committed to diversifying its approach on a continuous basis.

In this respect, we’ll work closely with peak bodies and customer committees to develop appropriate, customer focused support for customers and employees experiencing family violence.

9. Related Policies

10. Legislative Compliance
  • Water Industry Standard – Urban Customer Service 2023 
  • Water Industry Act 1994 (Vic)
  • Water Act 1989 (Vic) 
  • Privacy & Data Protection Act 2014 (Vic) 
  • Health Records Act 2001 (Vic) 
  • Gender Equality Act 2018 (Vic) 
  • Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth)
  • Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic) 
  • Personal Safety Intervention Orders Act 2010 (Vic) 
  • Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth) 
  • South East Water Employee Enterprise Agreement

11. Approval

Approved by

Executive Management Team

Approved on

20 September 2023 

Accountability for Implementation 

 General Manager, Customer Experience


General Manager,  People Safety and Governance

General Manager, Customer Experience  


General Manager, Customer Experience 


This policy and its associated procedures will be reviewed at least annually, or more frequently as required. 

Other ways to access this policy
  • Our policy is available on our website for you to access at any time. You can request a copy of this policy by emailing us or by calling us directly on 131 851
  • You can view a hard copy of this policy by visiting our offices at 101 Wells Street, Frankston.
  • You can also request a copy of this policy in another language by emailing us or by calling us directly on 131 851