9 January 2022

ACT renews calls for national paid domestic violence leave

| Lottie Twyford
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Crisis intervention worker on phone at Domestic Violence Crisis Service

The ACT Government is calling on the Federal Government to introduce 10 days of paid leave for domestic and family violence purposes. Photo: Supplied.

The ACT Government is calling for the introduction of 10 days of paid domestic and family violence leave at the national level.

ACT Deputy Chief Minister Yvette Berry, with the support of ACT Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury, presented a motion to the Legislative Assembly on Thursday, 2 December, to commit the ACT Government to support the ‘We Won’t Wait’ campaign.

The national campaign is led by Australian unions and calls for 10 days of paid domestic and family violence leave to be included in the National Employment Standards.

In the ACT, employees are already entitled to 20 days of paid leave for domestic and family violence purposes as a formal entitlement in government enterprise agreements.

The motion in the Assembly also called on the Federal Government to continue working with the community to support all Australian workers to live a life free from violence.

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Earlier this year, Ms Berry wrote to Minister for Industrial Relations Michaelia Cash to call for paid domestic and family violence leave to be implemented in the national standards.

At the time, 29 local unions and services sector representatives added their names in support of the letter.

“We want to ensure that no matter where they are in Australia, victim-survivors have the resources and time to speak out, seek support and build a life in safety,” said Ms Berry.

“Domestic and family violence is a workplace issue that needs to be publicly acknowledged and addressed rather than kept hidden. People experiencing domestic and family violence must have access to support to escape to safety.”

It is Ms Berry’s view that 10 days of paid leave should be implemented as a minimum.

Mr Rattenbury said the leave should constitute “a basic moral responsibility of employers and the government”.

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In her speech to the Assembly, Ms Berry said she does not share the view of Prime Minister Scott Morrison about the Jenkins review into parliamentary workplaces.

Ms Berry said she was shocked and saddened to learn about how many women in Parliament House had been subject to sexual harassment, bullying and other unacceptable behaviour.

She noted the context of COVID-19 lockdown is also concerning given Canberra’s domestic violence support services reported an increased need for their services throughout the ACT’s recent lockdown.

Although ACT Policing had received fewer reports of domestic violence this year, they were also aware of anecdotal reports of an increase in demand for domestic violence support services.

If you or someone you know is impacted by domestic or family violence, you can call:

  • Domestic Violence Crisis Service: (02) 6280 0900
  • Every Man: (02) 6230 6999
  • Lifeline: 13 11 14
  • Relationships Australia: 1300 364 277
  • In case of an emergency, call 000 (triple zero).

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