Bill Shorten's promise of 10 days paid domestic violence leave is welcome

Bill Shorten’s 10 days of paid domestic violence leave promise welcome

When we recently surveyed more than 500 women about their thoughts and experiences of paid domestic violence leave in partnership with Good Shepherd, we found employer-led support for victims varies dramatically.

Thirty five per cent of employed women said they do not have access to DV leave, while another 17% said they were unsure about their rights to access it through their employer.

And that’s the employed women.

When it comes to female entrepreneurs, those who work casually and those running their own small businesses, many don’t have any such recourse to take paid time out of their work should they become a victim of domestic violence.

A number of women told us they had lost their businesses due to domestic violence, others said they had lost their jobs and/or struggled to justify to a boss or leader their need to be away from the office.

So today’s announcement from Opposition leader Bill Shorten that Labor will legislate 10 days of paid leave for victims of domestic violence leave if elected, is welcome news.

But we must make sure that women who’re working casually or in their own businesses are also supported. We must also not forget women who’re unemployed, studying, looking for work, and/or undertaking caring responsibilities full-time.

Shorten made the announcement this morning at a White Ribbon Day breakfast at Parliament House, also attended by the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

The move follows the lead of a number of corporates, including Telstra, NAB, Qantas, Virgin Australia and Medicare, who are already providing paid leave options for staff.

Shorten’s promise of ten days is also a step up from his previous campaign promise of legislating five days of paid domestic violence leave.

Our survey found 85% of all respondents believe paid family/domestic violence leave is important in mitigating family violence in Australia.

Clearly, there’s more that can be done. This is now an opportunity to provide a big leap forward on preventing violence against women and supporting those who are at risk.

It’s not the only solution, and other measures must also be supported. But it’s a start.

Let’s continue the conversation, push for the Coalition to make the same promise, and get started. It’s time.

We published the report, Safe Spaces: A study on Paid Family/Domestic Violence Leave in partnership with Good Shepherd, to mark 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence. 

For free, confidential advice and support in relation to family/domestic violence, call 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732. If you, or someone you know, is in immediate danger, call 000.

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