Domestic Violence Leave is an issue of relevance to all of us.
When you consider that one in three women experiences physical violence by the age of 15, and one in five experiences sexual violence, and that an average of one woman per week is murdered by a current, or former, intimate partner, it is pretty difficult to argue that domestic violence is none of our business. Its effects are far reaching and this includes the workplace.
Domestic Violence Leave could have many benefits for those directly affected, but also for colleagues, family members and the greater community. There remains in our society, a cultural message that domestic violence is somehow the responsibility of the victim, and that it is shameful and should not be talked about. Many women, as a result of this message, stay silent. By acknowledging the reality of domestic violence, we reduce the stigma and encourage women to speak out.
Domestic Violence Leave acknowledges that there are sometimes circumstances in a working person’s life that require them to focus on caring for themselves and their children, carrying out practical, and often time-consuming, activities such as obtaining legal advice and attending court, dealing with the police, moving house, getting medical and/or psychological support, and the myriad of other things that arise.
Domestic Violence Leave sends these employees the message that they are valued in the workplace, and that their safety is important, at a time when many things are uncertain. It provides them the security of knowing that a job will be waiting when the crisis settles.
The inclusion of Domestic Violence Leave in the National Employment Standards remains on the agenda, despite two rejections by the Fair Work Commission this year, which, although not immediately favourable, left the door open for further submissions in the future, acknowledging that it was predominantly women who were financially disadvantaged by domestic violence.
The economic, health and social costs of domestic violence are enormous. We would all benefit if workplaces acknowledged the effects, both societal and individual, and supported victims on their journeys to safety.
Written by Tracy