Domestic violence advocates have criticised legislation that will give victims five days of unpaid leave each year. The Fair Work Ombudsman handed down its decision, with the federal government bringing it into force from August 1.
“A lot of research has been done to say 10 days is a good minimum to help those affected by family violence,” said Leigh Rowell, director of Wagga’s Family Support Services.
National Services Union secretary Natalie Lang was hoping New Zealand’s recent decision to mandate 10 days paid leave, would set the wheels in motion for similar inclusions in Australia.
“Five days is completely insufficient, it’s just not enough. You’d need at least seven days to meet with banks, schools, real estate agents. That all has to be done during work hours.”
They also question the effectiveness of forcing victims to take time off without pay.
“Rarely can a woman just back a truck up to their home and load up all of their belongings. If it comes down to having to make a decision between feeding your family or escaping violence, then that’s unacceptable,” said Ms Lang.
Ms Rowell recognises the decision is a step in the right direction, but believes it is a matter of society putting its money where its mouth is.
“There’s a lot of talk but change is very slow. I do think it’s still a largely hidden problem, that needs a lot more support in the workplace,” Ms Rowell said.
“Economically it isn’t even a great cost to the business,” said Ms Lang.
Providing paid leave, that’s how we genuinely show we as a community are committed to reducing domestic violence and sending a message to perpetrators that it won’t be tolerated.”
- If you or someone you know is affected by domestic violence, call 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732.