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Unions, organisations welcome paid domestic violence leave

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Unions and community organisations alike have welcomed the government’s introduction of 10 days paid domestic and family violence leave, claiming it’s a “game-changer”.

In the first sitting week of the new-look Parliament, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced on Thursday (28 July) the legislation would go a long way towards protecting victims-survivors stuck in an unsafe situation at home.

“Someone dealing with domestic abuse shouldn’t have to choose between escaping violence and losing their job,” he said.

Hunter Workers secretary Leigh Shears applauded the move.

“The introduction of this entitlement will save countless lives as maintaining income and stability greatly increases the chances of a survivor successfully escaping an abusive situation,” he said.

“Domestic violence (DV) is one of the only types of crime that has continued to rise across Australia, according to data released earlier this year by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research.

“Over the pandemic, millions of Australians shifted to remote working and continue to engage in this type of work, bringing their workplaces into their homes and increasing their risk for family violence.

“But, thanks to the tireless campaigning and power of unions, all workers will now have access to this life saving entitlement.

“We thank and congratulate the activists and unionists who have fought years for paid domestic violence leave, including the Hunter Workers Women’s Committee, Hunter Domestic Violence Committee, the University of Newcastle Gender Research Network and local charity Got Your Back Sista.”

Full Stop Australia CEO Hayley Foster praised the federal government for making women’s safety a priority.

“This is a recognition of the incredible cost domestic and family violence has on individuals, workplaces and the economy – more than $26 billion each year mostly borne by victim-survivors and their employers,” she stated.

“Escaping from a DV situation is a huge ordeal; it often involves health, housing and legal appointments, as well as court appearances, all of which are only available during business hours.

“Family violence is a workplace issue, too, and providing adequate leave is crucial for ensuring women can leave violent relationships and maintain their employment and economic security.”

Ms Foster said leading employers were already looking at their policies when it came to supporting their staff impacted by domestic, family and sexual violence, and upskilling first responders.

“We’re really committed to assisting any employer who wants to create a safer and more supportive workplace for their employees who have experienced violence at home,” she added.

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