Australia to introduce paid domestic violence leave

The Australian government will introduce legislation that will see workers entitled to 10 days paid family and domestic violence leave as part of national employment standards.

The Australian Services Union (ASU), along with the Australian union movement has been campaigning to win universal entitlement to paid family and domestic violence over many decades.

The Australian Services Union (ASU) negotiated the world’s first entitlement to paid family and domestic violence leave in a workplace agreement at Surf Coast Shire Council in 2010. This paved the way to expand this workplace entitlement to other industries and workplaces and was taken up by members of the trade union movement nationwide.

Whilst an estimated 1 in 3 workers had access to paid leave through enterprise bargaining agreements, millions of workers employed on Modern Awards had no entitlement to paid leave. The ASU was determined to change this and continued the push for paid family violence leave to be available to every worker if they were escaping family violence or starting to build a life free of violence. The ASU knew it takes time and money to leave an abusive relationship. Moving to find a new, safe place is estimated to cost up to $20,000 and take more than 140 hours.

The ASU launched the We Won’t Wait campaign for 10 days paid family violence leave to be legislated in the National Employment Standards, after an ASU member was working with a woman who had been a victim but had to abandon a court hearing after her employer told her she had to return to work or lose her job.  The ASU continued this campaign to ensure every worker has the time, support and job security they need to escape and recover from an abusive relationship.

Emeline Gaske, Assistant National SecretaryThe ASU is incredibly proud of our members and delegates who have led this campaign for the past 12 years. These new laws mean people will no longer be fearful of losing income or having their employment terminated because they were not entitled to paid family and domestic violence leave”.

In 2018 the Fair Work Commission introduced 5 days unpaid domestic violence leave into Modern Awards and the Coalition government then moved to include this same entitlement into the National Employment Standards.

In May this year the Fair Work Commission gave in-principle support to 10 days of paid Family Violence Leave. More importantly, after strong advocacy from the ASU and other unions, the new Australian Labor government committed to legislate for 10 days paid family and domestic violence leave in the National Employment Standards. This means paid domestic violence leave will be a right for 11 million workers, including part time and casual workers.

 "PSI's affiliates in Australia, particularly the ASU, have again demonstrated that unions, with a deep and sustained commitment to social justice and gender equality, are the best way to deliver progressive social change. The right to take paid domestic violence leave can save and transform the lives of survivors and their children. Winning the right for all workers, including casual workers, is critical. Next step - ratification of C190!" – Kate Lappin, PSI Regional Secretary for Asia and Pacific

ASU member comments

  • Danna Nelse, ASU NSW & ACT Services Branch Vice President “Our union is leading the way, and I am so proud of the work and commitment and the fact we stayed for the long course”.

  • Denele Crozier, ASU member “The ASU has relentlessly held on to our principles and values and kept fighting for a better world. This is a fundamental shift in women’s stories”.

  • Katia Munoz, ASU member “I am overwhelmed [by the new legislation], but it gives me the strength and energy to do even more”.

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