The Albanese Government has introduced legislative amendments to the Fair Work Act 2009 to include 10 days paid family and domestic violence leave in each 12-month period in the National Employment Standards.
After various campaigns and union avocations, The Fair Work Amendment (Paid and Family Domestic Violence Leave) Bill 2022 has passed.
“People experiencing domestic violence need time off work to escape their abusers and deal with the other impacts of violence. This change means you can do that – without risking your job or financial security,” Albanese stated on his Instagram account.
Most workers in Australia such as casuals, part-time and full-time workers will get this entitlement from February 1st, 2023.
“To all those who have experienced and are experiencing family and domestic violence, you have asked us to take action and we are,” said Employment Minister Tony Burke.
What are the new entitlements?
The new Bill proposes to amend the National Employment Standards. (NES)
Under the current laws, employees are only entitled to 5 days of domestic violence leave.
Employees will now be entitled to 10 days per year to deal with the devastating impact of domestic violence.
The entitlement will be available at the start of each 12-month period of an employee’s employment and will not accumulate over the years.
For part-time and full-time employees, the leave will be paid at the employees’ full rate of pay inclusive of loadings, overtime, penalty rates and allowances.
For casual employees, the leave will be paid at the employees’ full rate of pay to the hours the employee would have worked during the period of leave inclusive of loadings, allowances, overtime, and penalty rates.
“This bill will not by itself solve the problem of family and domestic violence, but it does mean no employee in Australia will ever again be forced to make a choice between earning a wage and protecting themselves and their families,”Employment Minister Tony Burke said.
What is domestic violence?
Domestic violence is when there is violence between people who are or were in a domestic relationship, such as a partner, family, or anyone you live or used to live with.
For violence to constitute ‘domestic violence’ it must be considered a ‘personal violence offence’.
Domestic violence can take a range of forms including AVO breaches, stalk/intimidate, common assault, actual bodily harm, grievous bodily harm, wounding, using carriage service to harass, threat, menace or offend, choke, or strangulate, property damage, and can include sexual assault and murder.
Under the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007, the maximum penalty for most common types of domestic violence charges ranges from 2 years imprisonment or a $2,200 fine or both to 25 years imprisonment or an $11,000 fine or both.
A court will impose a sentence or penalty based on the unique circumstances of the case.
Domestic violence statistics
In Australia, domestic violence is a major health and safety issue according to domestic violence statistics in Australia.
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), one in six Australian women and one in sixteen men have been subjected to physical and/or sexual violence by a current or previous cohabitating partner since the age of 15.
According to the AIHW Indigenous women, young women and pregnant women are particularly at risk.
A four Corners Investigation “How many more” led by Bridget Brennan into Australia’s murdered and missing Indigenous women exposes the severity of domestic violence as a social and well-being issue.
Bridget Brennan and her team revealed the lack of education and awareness needs to change to ensure society understands that acts of domestic violence are not only limited to violence, and that violence can change at any point over the course of a relationship.
Coercive control is a form of domestic abuse that involves patterns of behaviour that have the cumulative effect of denying victim-survivors their autonomy and independence.
Perpetrators deliberately isolate victims from friends, family and support systems making detection and prosecution of it very difficult.
“Criminalising coercive control is crucial to ensuring that we recognise in law a pattern of behaviour that is identified as a red flag for domestic violence deaths,” Minister for Women’s Safety and the Prevention of Domestic and Sexual Violence Natalie Ward explained.
The Four Corners investigation revealed that despite the new Crimes Legislation Amendment (Coercive Control) Bill 2022, which creates a stand-alone offence carrying a maximum sentence of seven years in jail for coercive control, there is still a need to ensure that the whole community works towards prevention and harm minimisation of domestic violence.
The Four Corners investigation revealed that the community and police need to understand what coercive control is and how it can present in a relationship.
The reform was backed with an initial funding of $5.6 Million, a further $4.9 million to support coercive control training for police, funding for multiple awareness campaigns and educational resources.
The NSW Government has also dedicated a further $69.9 Million in the year’s Budget for support services for domestic and family violence victims.
“This bill is about supporting victim-survivors held hostage in their own homes and in their own lives by domestic terrorism and our commitment to taking action against this insidious evil that is coercive and controlling behaviour,” described Attorney General Mark Speakman.
When passed, NSW will be the first Australian state or territory to have a dedicated offence for coercive control and will take up to 19 months for it to come into play.
By Alyssa Maschmedt.