'Violence doesn't discriminate – and neither should the law'
Starting February 2023, the majority of Australian workers will receive 10 days of paid domestic violence leave per year, with the final amendments to the law signed off by the House of Representatives on Thursday.
The law is expected to cover over 11 million Australians with full-time, part-time or casual employment. Small businesses will have an extra six months to prepare the entitlements, meaning the law will come into effect from August 2023.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, one in four women has experienced physical, emotional or sexual violence by a current or former partner since the age of 15. The ABS also reported that women are also three times more likely than men to experience violence from a partner.
Employment Minister Tony Burke said a community response was overdue for what most used to perceive as a private matter: "To all those who have experienced and are experiencing family and domestic violence, you have asked us to take action and we are. 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."
Reviews will be conducted in 2023 to ensure the entitlement has been rolled out properly.
Michele O’Neil, president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, said the new law represented a historic win for everyone. However, unions would still push to extend the leave period, but “10 days is a very important start.”
The paid leave would offer victims the time and resources to leave a dangerous situation without risking their financial security, while perpetrators will not be covered by the law.
"Women shouldn't have to choose between work and safety. Ten days’ paid leave offers people the opportunity to have financial security when they need it most," Frontline domestic violence worker Sam Parker said. "We know that having access to this leave assists in removing some of the barriers that women face when trying to leave an abusive relationship, and we truly believe this will save lives."
The significant reform comes as the Albanese government pledged to address violence against women and children in its federal budget after being elected to office.
“Violence doesn’t discriminate – and neither should the law,” Burke said.