“I think most people, when seeing the aftermath of Family and Sexual Violence (FSV), show genuine sympathy and compassion towards the survivor.
“The challenge has always been what you do to help the survivor.”
Thornton, an executive management team member of BSP, shared his thoughts and experiences in supporting staff faced with FSV, and how awareness and support services have evolved over the years.
Thornton first saw cases of FSV when he started working in PNG in the late 70’s. In some instances, he observed that staff would be brave and come to work with blackened eyes but in many cases, staff would be regularly absent from work.
He was more aware of cases of physical violence because he could see the consequences of it however; cases of emotional or financial trauma inflicted on staff were not as obvious.
In the earlier days, Thornton said he could provide comfort and counselling to the survivor but there was not much more that he felt he could do. In some extreme cases, if the perpetrator was a staff member, he would take disciplinary action against them but the policies of the day were not strong.
“Today, there is support structures available for survivors of GBV through the Bel isi program and through BSP,” he states.
“I am so pleased to say that today, through the tireless efforts of many in the Bank under the GCEO’s leadership; we now have strong support structures in place with links to professionals in this field that provide support to survivors. The awareness and training that all BSP staff have received to understand the many forms of FSV and equip us to guide survivors to the appropriate support structures is very helpful. Today I feel much more informed and able to assist a survivor than was the case 40 years ago.”
BSP started its biggest social justice campaign #BlackThursdays in July 2020, to create awareness on FSV/GBV and to empower its staff to put an end to violence.
The bank has also made available #BlackThursdays polo shirts for staff to wear every Thursday – a move that always keeps the conversation going on Family, Sexual and Gender Based Violence in the communities when staff are seen in the new Thursday wear.
(Outgoing BSP Group General Manager Retail, Paul Thornton)