Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 13 Hansard (Thursday, 2 December 2021) . . Page.. 4053 ..
mediation and sometimes years of court dates. Ten days of leave goes only part of the way to managing this significant burden, a structural issue which means that many women are forced to remain within violent relationships.
The discourse that dominates talks about women leaving these relationships focuses on personal, moral attributes such as courage and bravery, but frankly these experiences and emotions are fickle in all of us. What is far, far more likely to correlate with permanently leaving a violent partner is financial and logistical support.
Adding domestic and family violence leave to the national employment standards is a structural change which means that all Australian workplaces can support women to leave in a very practical way. This campaign is a beautiful demonstration of union power and the feminist base of solidarity within the union movement. May I encourage all workers to join their union and to support progressive action to care for workers.
Women have said that what they need is to be heard and understood and supported as they recreate safety in their lives and the lives of their children. Paid leave is something all employers can, and should, do to support people experiencing violence.
This jointly sponsored motion is asking all 25 members of this Assembly to write to the federal Minister for Industrial Relations, the Hon. Michaelia Cash, to seek her support for this important campaign. I will be doing so in support of Minister Berry and Minister Rattenbury’s letter, and I strongly encourage everyone here to do so as well.
DR PATERSON (Murrumbidgee) (11.45): I am pleased to support the We Won’t Wait executive motion on paid domestic and family violence leave. I would like to begin by acknowledging the work of the Australian of the Year in 2015, Rosie Batty, who led such a huge shift in Australia, lifting the profile of the issue of family and domestic violence. While so much has been achieved, we still have such a way to go. I would like to quote Rosie Batty who said, “We have to continue to remind ourselves that violence is a choice.” Violence is a choice—a choice by the perpetrator. The victim-survivors, they have no choice. This is why we must support victim-survivors. I am proud to be part of a government that takes meaningful action on domestic and family violence.
As the motion notes, the ACT government is already providing a significant paid leave entitlement for people experiencing domestic and family violence. This should not be available only to people who work for the ACT government. A minimum of 10 days—or more—should be available to people across Australia.
Bringing domestic and family violence into the workplace policy context helps us see that this is a cross-sectoral and whole-of-community issue that we all have responsibility for. Australian unions recognise this. That is why the We Won’t Wait campaign exists.
We also know that domestic and family violence costs our workplaces and our economy a huge amount each year, and it is something that we need to continue to address.