Historic change: Domestic violence leave for all

On 28 July, after a decade-long union campaign for 10 days paid family and domestic violence leave, the new Albanese Government introduced legislation to enshrine this right into the National Employment Standards.

Over the past decade, successive Coalition governments refused to support this leave. But unions campaigned relentlessly. By enshrining the leave into the National Employment Standards, the Albanese Government will ensure that nearly every worker gets this entitlement, even casual and part-time workers. This Bill, when passed, will cover an additional 8.44 million workers.

Access to this leave will save lives. On average, it costs $18,000 to escape a violent relationship in Australia and economic security is a key factor determining whether a person subjected to family or domestic violence can escape from a dangerous situation.

IEU members were among the first employees in the country to secure paid family and domestic violence leave in many union negotiated collective agreements.

IEU members outside of the collective bargaining process, along with millions of workers in other industries, will now also have access to this critical safety protection for workers and their families.

At least one in four women has experienced physical or sexual violence since the age of 15 by a current or former intimate partner – a national crisis that has worsened during the pandemic.

The union movement held a commemorative service in Canberra on this day to pay tribute to all the lives lost to family and domestic violence, culminating in the laying of floral dedications and a minute’s silence.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek, Workplace Relations Minister Tony Burke, Minister for Families and Social Services Amanda Rishworth and Assistant Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence Justine Elliot spoke about their commitment to this change.

ACTU President Michele O’Neil shared the history of the We Won’t Wait campaign and spoke of the need to educate workers about their new entitlement.

“Family and domestic violence is a national emergency in Australia and winning 10 days paid FDV leave will allow many more women to escape violence and keep their jobs,” O’Neil said.

The IEU pays tribute to the many thousands of union members around the country who have campaigned tirelessly to win this critical new right for working people. Success at last!

Lyn Caton