Bill to provide more protection

New legislation for victims of domestic violence introduced to parliament.

By Holly McGuinness

The federal government introduced legislation in Parliament last month that will ensure that any working person escaping family and domestic violence will have access to 10 paid days of domestic violence leave.

Dale Wakefield, chief executive of women’s health centre and family violence support organisation GenWest, said 10 days of paid leave for victim survivors escaping family violence is a positive step towards supporting their safety and wellbeing.

“Victim survivors are more likely to be able to leave a violent relationship when they are financially secure. Poverty and financial hardship affects many victim survivors who are escaping family violence,” he said.

“Leave that supports victim survivors to stay in paid employment can be a key factor in supporting them to live safe lives, free from violence.”

But he would also like to see further changes made across the sector to provide better protection to victims.

“Family violence is the single biggest cause of homelessness in Victoria,” Mr Wakefield said.

“We also need the federal government to increase the amount of secure and affordable accommodation options to ensure that victim survivors have a safe place to call home.”

The legislation would mean an amendment to the National Employment Standards and be a mandatory inclusion for full-time, part-time and casual workers, with hopes it will be rolled out as early as February 2023, however small businesses will have an additional six months to arrange implementation.

National counselling support organisation Full Stop Australia has also welcomed the legislation.

Chief executive Hayley Foster said escaping from a domestic violence situation is a huge ordeal.

“It often involves health, housing and legal appointments, as well as court appearances, all of which are only available during business hours,” she said.

“A survivor of domestic abuse shouldn’t have to choose between escaping violence and losing their job.”