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Unions vote to push for leave for workers who experience domestic violence.

Posted 25 November 2013 by Jeannie Rea (NTEU National Office)

White Ribbon Ambassador and ACTU Secretary Dave Oliver said Australian Unions will support a special resolution at the ACTU Executive on Tuesday for paid domestic violence leave to be included as a minimum entitlement in the 2014 modern award review.

“Australia is already leading the world with over 1.2 million workers benefiting from access to leave should they be unfortunate enough to experience domestic violence. We think this should be extended to protect many more workers,” Mr Oliver said.

“The most recent ABS Personal Safety Survey found that over 17 per cent of Australian women had experienced physical or sexual violence from a previous or current partner and that around 60 per cent of them were in paid employment.

“Victims of domestic violence are often vulnerable, traumatised and left with little support. The last thing they need is to risk losing their jobs.

“Maintaining paid work and independence is crucial for people trying to escape the cycle of family violence, and these protections recognise this.“Many workplaces already have paid domestic violence leave in their enterprise agreements.

“This is a positive sign of the growing awareness of domestic violence and its effects on the community.

“White Ribbon Day is about men talking to men and saying it’s not okay to be abusive and I’m proud to be a part of that. I will be adding my voice to the call to never to commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women.”

Mr Oliver said family violence leave provisions provide additional paid leave for employees experiencing family violence, as well as flexible work arrangements if necessary. They must also ensure confidentiality of employee details, and that employees who have experienced family violence are not discriminated against.

“Unions have a proud history of showing leadership in the campaign to eliminate violence against women and children. This is a problem that needs a united effort from everyone in society, and that includes unions and employers,” Mr Oliver said.

Unions around Australia are participating in White Ribbon Day events to generate greater awareness and adoption of workplace initiatives to support cultural changes aimed at eliminating family and domestic violence.

Reprinted from the Advocate, Nov 2013:

Breakthrough on domestic violence

There has been a major breakthrough in bargaining around domestic violence provisions in the sector.

In July, the NTEU with Swinburne University made a major breakthrough in enterprise bargaining provisions to support staff dealing with domestic violence. A new clause will provide five additional paid leave days specifically to be used for staff affected by domestic/family violence.

NTEU and the University of Sydney had previously agreed that up to an additional 20 days leave may be taken solely for the purposes of dealing with the effects of domestic violence. Sydney will also offer additional support such as relocation of workplace or a change of work phone number.

Of the other recently approved Agreements, the Deakin University Agreement commits the parties to developing policies around domestic violence and provides an unspecified amount of leave to be taken as ‘special leave’. The Agreement at James Cook University includes a commitment clause to provide support for any staff affected by domestic violence.

It’s clear that Swinburne University have now set the standard by providing specific days for domestic violence leave, making it our best practice clause (so far) this round. This has set a new benchmark for not just higher education, but throughout Australia where unions are seeking similar provisions in industrial agreements.

Since the NTEU Women’s Action Committee (WAC) considered making mandatory claims on domestic violence leave in 2012, the rate of coverage of these clauses has grown rapidly across industries, with more than 1 million workers now covered by such provisions.

There is a growing acceptance of domestic violence as a workplace issue, affecting work attendance, work performance and safety. Of respondents to the Safe at Home, Safe at Work? survey in 2011, 77% who had experienced domestic violence reported that their work performance had been negatively affected.

Aside from being the right thing to do, provisions to support workers affected by domestic violence make sense for employers if they consider the costs of lost productivity, increased levels of absenteeism and turnover.

For these reasons, WAC and NTEU Executive reconsidered our approach to these claims earlier this year which re-focussed our negotiations to achieving 4 out of the 7 ‘stars’ recommended by the Domestic Violence Clearinghouse, and to aim for one of these stars to be the achievement of additional paid leave.

Since this round of bargaining commenced, the degree of public and industry acceptance of these provisions as legitimate workplace matters means NTEU can continue to build on domestic violence provisions in this and future rounds.

If you’d like information or advice on negotiating domestic violence provisions, and additional leave, please contact the NTEU Industrial Unit.

Sue Kenna, Industrial Officer


  1. victim said on 12:06 Tuesday 17 Dec, 2013

    [ -4 ] what employee would go to their boss and admit to dv and ask for time off - goodbye career progression.

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  2. Dave said on 12:44 Thursday 12 Dec, 2013

    [ -1 ] Person Below:
    You have repeatedly personally insulted me and misrepresented my views by incorrectly stating that they " DO condone abuse."

    There is no conflict between the concepts of the guilty party (abuser) being held to account for their deeds through the justice system etc and a potential victim where possible taking responsibility for their lives by leaving someone at the first instance of abuse.

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  3. Dave's social conscience said on 20:38 Wednesday 11 Dec, 2013

    [ +5 ] No, the ABUSER needs to take responsibility.
    The victim needs support from the entire community - friends, family, police, medical professionals, social services, government bodies, the legal system... AND their employer.
    Whole community collaboration for social justice. An easy concept for most people to grasp.
    Ignorant comments like yours help perpetuate misconceptions and untruths about domestic violence and actually DO condone abuse.
    Take some 'self responsibility' for your outdated and prejudiced views.
    If you're the sort of heartless person who would want to deny someone the meagre 5 days special leave agreed to by Swinburne to deal with domestic violence then there seems little point trying to reason. Good luck 'Dave'.

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  4. Dave said on 15:16 Wednesday 11 Dec, 2013

    [ +2 ] Person below: Why the personal abuse to me? ('Dumb Dave')?

    Someone leaving the relationship upon the first instance of abuse has done the right thing.

    In reality, most cases of domestic violence are characterised by a medium to long periods of escalating abuse, with intervening 'honeymoon periods' becoming shorter and more infrequent. My comment that the target of the abuse needs to take self-responsibility does not in any way condone the actions of the abuser.

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  5. Dumb Dave - DUMB! said on 2:03 Wednesday 11 Dec, 2013

    [ +2 ] Really 'Dave'? You'd 'know' what someone was going to do?
    Wow, you can predict the future?
    The first ever case of proven ESP? You are a medical marvel. Why haven't I seen you using these skills to predict global catastrophes?
    I suppose you can use your magical powers to 'know' that everyone's laughing at your archaic 'personal responsibility' belief about DV.

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  6. Dave said on 16:23 Tuesday 10 Dec, 2013

    [ +4 ] How about some personal responsibility? If I was in a relationship I'd know if I was getting involved with someone abusive. At the first instance of abuse I'd leave. Better than being a victim and expecting my employer/government to financially pay.

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  7. Well done Swinburne NTEU said on 11:04 Sunday 1 Dec, 2013

    [ +1 ] Well done Josh Cullinan, Ryan Hsu and Linda Cargill! Swinburne staff have these entitlements and protections because of YOUR unwavering committment to helping those experiencing domestic violence.
    Swinburne NTEU = national social justice leaders.

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