New legislation will allow victims of domestic violence to access 10 days paid leave

Illawarra Mercury – Louise Negline with AAP

The Albanese government will introduce legislation to parliament on Thursday that will put in place 10 days of paid leave for people affected by domestic violence.

It is expected more than 11 million workers, including casual workers, will have access to the leave.

Illawarra Women’s Health Centre general manager Sally Stevenson said it’s a critical step in affording women leave, when escaping and recovering from domestic violence.

“For victims to know paid leave is available is as important psychologically, as it is practically,” Ms Stevenson said.

“It is vital that casual workers are included in the paid domestic violence leave scheme to be legislated into the National Employment Standards on Thursday.

“Women represent the vast majority of employees in some of the most casualised workforce sectors in our community and their safety is equally important as other domestic violence victims in permanent and part time work,” she said.

“Having a financial safety net with the support of your employer during this time is a must, if we are to truly – and practically – support women and children enduring domestic and family violence.”

Case worker at the Illawarra Women’s Health Centre, Katrina Dick, says domestic violence is the single biggest cause of homelessness in Australia.

“Maintaining a job and having access to leave to navigate the multiple, often labyrinth-like and often long-term processes to remain safe and establish a new life cannot be over-stated.

“As long as the domestic and family violence leave is implemented within the correct policy framework this ground-breaking legislation should make women feel more protected.

“Confidentiality, anonymity and minimal reporting requirements or certifications, such as a medical certificate or police reports are key to this,” Ms Dick added.

Workplace Relations Minister Tony Burke said the new legislation would give people the means to escape violent situations without risking their jobs.

“The reality is, disproportionately, people in casual work are in those situations.”

The scheme is set to begin on February 1 next year for most employees.

Sally Stevenson said it’s unlikely this leave would lead to people taking advantage of the entitlement.

“Domestic and family violence is incredibly under-reported across society, as disclosures always carry inherent risks.”

Opposition workplace relations spokeswoman Michaelia Cash indicated the coalition would likely support the bill.