Unions Win DV leave

The Union Movement have achieved a historic win this week. After years of tireless effort from union members and community activists, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) has made an in-principle decision that workers covered by modern Awards should have access to 10 days paid Family and Domestic Violence leave.  

The next step for the campaign is to introduce the paid leave into the National Employment Standards (NES). The NES are the minimum entitlements for employees in Australia. With the inclusion of paid family and domestic violence leave, another 8.4 million workers could have a safer workplace. 

The Morrison Government will not commit to including the entitlement in the NES, whilst Opposition leader Anthony Albanese has supported the change.

Australian Council of Trade Unions provided evidence from a range of witnesses to support the claim for FDV leave, including from Dr Victoria Jones, the Head of the Medical Unit of the Women’s Health Service in the SA Women’s and Children’s Hospital, and Board member of the SA branch of ASMOF.

Dr Jones provided extensive evidence as to the impact of FDV on women and the urgent need for time and resources when women leave the relationship.

‘I have quite frequently seen patients who leave a relationship, make a start on establishing a new life and then get completely overwhelmed with the very large number of appointments they have to attend; often because of a concern about disruption to their work or not being able to afford to take leave from work. These women then disappear from our service and we assume they return to the dangerous relationship…

While patients can use sick leave for some of the appointments they need to attend, they can’t use sick leave for attending court or for appointments with police, or financial and legal, and other services. In my experience, mums with small children have often used lots of their personal leave and don’t have much left. Many of our clients have a long history of abuse and have used their sick leave entitlement due to injuries.

A common statistic that people in the DV sector talk about is that it takes a women seven attempts to successfully leave a violent partner.
Based on what I have seen in my work with patients at the service, one of the biggest barriers to successfully leaving a violent relationship is a lack of financial resources.’

 You can read the full decision and a useful 20 page summary available here.

1800RESPECT:Call 1800 737 732 if you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence.
No to Violence Men’s Referral Service:Call 1300 766 491 for anonymous and confidential telephone counselling, information and referrals for men.