Domestic Violence Leave is not a Holiday

Domestic violence leave should be a compulsory element in every workplace in 2017, the same way personal and holiday leave is provided for by law, according to Cassandra Pullos.

She says moves to broaden the provision of domestic violence leave in Queensland for public sector workers do not go far enough. It should become a standard provision in all workplaces.  “Domestic violence is a growing national crisis and paid leave for those affected by it should be seen as necessary and not confined to just public sector employees,” she says.

Cassandra has endorsed a call by Queensland's premier for paid domestic violence leave to become a national employment standard.  Annastacia Palaszczuk wants all governments across the country to follow Queensland's leave and provide paid leave for those affected by family and domestic violence. Late last year Queensland became the first jurisdiction to legislate paid domestic and family violence for public sector workers.

Cassandra has applauded the move but feels we could do a lot more. Several Australian law firms are now offering domestic violence leave to staff but it was on an ad hoc basis with no formal, profession-wide policy.  “We support this call for domestic violence leave to be available across the board to everyone affected by it as one of the ways in which the business community can recognise the toll domestic and family violence can take on employees,” she says.  The State’s provisions for its employees entitles them to up 10 days of paid leave to attend medical, legal and counselling appointments and arrange alternative accommodation and child care assistance.

Cassandra wants the legal profession to take a prominent role in advocating change to protect DV victims and advocate tougher penalties for those who commit domestic violence. She believes the business community could play a crucial and influential role for change especially in opening the closed doors of a behaviour that still carried a worrying stigma for many victims, and which perpetrators of domestic and family violence exploited to their own benefit.

“One of the key messages we need to convey in 2017 is to push for change on the understanding that domestic violence leave is not and should not be just seen as a holiday.  “Domestic violence is so widespread and ingrained, it needs a whole of Government and Community approach to eradicate it. Up until now various groups and agencies have been working almost independently and in isolation on DV solutions.  “The current splintered approach needs to refocus around a robust policy to protect and help victims and deter and appropriately punish domestic violence offenders,” she says.

Legislating domestic violence leave as an entitlement for all workers, irrespective of their profession or industry, is a worthy target for addressing DV in 2017, Cassandra added.