‘Landmark’ laws to give Australian women better chance of escaping violence

By Melissa Coade

July 26, 2022

Amanda Rishworth
families and social services minister Amanda Rishworth. (AAP Image/Dean Martin)

Labor’s plan to create new laws giving workers 10 days of paid family and domestic violence leave is hoped to save more lives of victim-survivors who want to escape violent homes without risking their jobs.

In Australia, one woman dies every 10 days at the hands of a former or current partner. Police are called every two minutes on average for a report of alleged family and domestic violence.  

The government said it would introduce legislation on Thursday to ensure more than 11 million workers – including casuals – could receive the entitlements without putting their financial security on the line. 

In a joint statement, workplace relations minister Tony Burke and families and social services minister Amanda Rishworth said measures showed the government was committed to ending family, domestic and sexual violence. 

They want the Coalition to back the Fair Work Amendment (Paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave) Bill 2022 to include the 10 days of annual entitlement into the National Employment Standards.

Burke said all employees would benefit from the new paid leave entitlements. Casual workers would not be left behind, he added, recognising the efforts of the unions to fight for the right in the Fair Work Commission.

“We don’t want a system where some workers get paid leave and others don’t – it has to apply to everyone,” he said. 

Labor’s consultations with business have led the government to set the preferred date for the new scheme to apply for most employees on 1 February 2023. The scheme will grant small businesses an additional six months to adjust, meaning it will be fully operational by August. 

Rishworth added a date in October was the goal to release the National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children 2022-2033. The plan would advance further work in the space, she said. 

“We are prioritising this important legislation to increase paid leave for family and domestic violence and introducing it in the first sitting week. This shows our resolve to removing the barriers faced by those escaping violence,” Rishworth said. 

Other initiatives the government has promised to implement include the establishment of a new Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence Commission; new investments for an additional 500 community frontline workers; consent and respectful relationships education in schools; as well as safe and affordable housing for women fleeing violence.

“We don’t want to see the next generation of men and women grappling with this scourge of family and domestic violence,” Rishworth said. 


READ MORE:

Refugee and migrant women are often excluded from mainstream domestic violence services and policy

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