Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Sittings . . . . PDF . . . . Video

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 13 Hansard (Thursday, 2 December 2021) . . Page.. 4048 ..


victims. It is our belief that family violence leave needs to provide an appropriate level of financial support.

Providing paid leave for people experiencing family violence is a particularly practical measure. For anyone working, asking them to use their annual or personal leave for the time taken to recover or reorganise their life really does seem just to be adding to their burdens. You clearly cannot work while you build a new life for yourself; and it is far from certain that you can forgo your salary.

For someone experiencing family violence, the financial security of still being paid while undergoing this huge disruption in their life can make a really meaningful difference. It can help answer so many of those difficult questions, such as where to live, how to function and how to care for any children still needing support. Knowing the huge benefit that this can bring, it is wholly unacceptable that it would not be offered. The current status, where the Fair Work Act guarantees only five days of unpaid leave, is better than nothing but clearly fails to provide the immediate security of 10 days of paid leave.

This motion is not about a justice system response. However, before I conclude, it would be remiss of me not to mention the work that I am continuously mindful of, and engaged in, as the Attorney-General. This year we have introduced legislation to require that family violence be considered a factor when sentencing. Early next year I will be bringing forward legislation to address other legal issues to improve the experience of victim-survivors through court.

I would also like to express my sincere gratitude to the ACT’s legal assistance sector. Community legal centres such as the Women’s Legal Centre provide the wraparound supports that can help transform a woman’s life. Legal Aid ACT continues to provide duty and longer term services to assist a great many parties in family violence matters. I would particularly like to commend Legal Aid’s recent focus and work on how to provide the most appropriate support to LGBTIQ clients.

Providing paid leave is, first and foremost, an issue of health and wellbeing. Every person deserves a system that offers them support when they need it. If that is not enough, the economic evidence is also very clear. Domestic violence is highly costly for the economy. The costs of providing this leave are minimal in comparison. Really, a person experiencing family violence is not going to be doing their best work because they are so bound by the yoke of financial necessity that they are unable to take the brave steps to a better life.

This is a practical, a moral and a sensible policy. We cannot wait. We will not. And we should not. This is a policy that is necessary for the wellbeing, inclusion, safety and lives of many Australians, especially women. I commend the motion to the Assembly and I look forward to as rapid as possible progress on this policy reform. For the reasons that I have outlined, it can make a very real difference for so many Australians.

MS LEE (Kurrajong—Leader of the Opposition) (11.29): Domestic and family violence is a scourge on our society. Whilst of course no form of violence is


Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Sittings . . . . PDF . . . . Video