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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 13 Hansard (Thursday, 2 December 2021) . . Page.. 4056 ..


MS BERRY (Ginninderra—Deputy Chief Minister, Minister for Early Childhood Development, Minister for Education and Youth Affairs, Minister for Housing and Suburban Development, Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, Minister for Sport and Recreation and Minister for Women) (11.53), in reply: I thank my colleagues for talking to this important motion today. I just want to respond to a couple of comments that the Leader of the Opposition made, particularly her reference to the so-called grants that have been provided by the federal government for victim-survivors of domestic and family violence to access.

This voucher system, if I could describe it as such, is a poor substitute for paid leave. It further punishes victim-survivors in requiring them to fill out a lengthy and complicated application process, where they have to re-tell their story to enable them to access these vouchers. It disadvantages vulnerable people in our community that are already experiencing the trauma of trying to escape a violent or controlling relationship by having this process in place that requires them to tell their story again through this complex and complicated application process. It means that women from multicultural communities, women from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, have unequal access to something that is re-traumatising for them—being required to tell their stories again.

It is not supported by the women’s services sector, and I think it is a very poor, very poor substitute for having domestic and family violence leave as part of the national Fair Work Commission’s requirements for every single worker across this country to be able to access leave when they are experiencing, or escaping, domestic and family violence. That is complicated, too, when you need to go and get health services, when you need to find housing support, when you need to find support for your children, when you need to take time off to move out of your home, when you need to get legal supports as well. That is what this domestic and family violence leave process will do and has done in the ACT for eight years now for people who are experiencing it and escaping. It has proven that it is worthy.

I understand Ms Lee’s support for it, and I do not think that I am wrong in saying that the Canberra Liberals do not support and do not want to try and support victim-survivors. But considering having domestic and family violence leave as part of a national provision for workers across this country is just not good enough; it is not going to cut it. That is why the campaign by unions, supported by the women’s services sector, the ACT Labor Party and now the Greens, is titled “We Won’t Wait”.

Our victim-survivors have been waiting for too long, for decades, and we really need to start action and we need to start action now. That is why this motion calls on members of this place to support the cause for 10 days of paid leave to be implemented for victim-survivors of domestic and family violence in every state and territory across this country.

I think it needs to be clear what these 10 days, which I have described in my earlier statement, is about. It is about recognising that this is a gender issue; it is about understanding that increased activism and awareness around the gender nature of violence needs to happen; that women are three times more likely to experience


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