Domestic violence leave bill introduced as Anthony Albanese condemns ‘stain on nation’s soul’

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said domestic violence was a “stain on the national soul” as his government introduced a plan into parliament to deliver 10 days domestic violence leave for workers.
If passed by parliament, would allow any Australian worker, including casuals, to access the measure aimed at supporting survivors.

The scheme will commence from February 2023 for most employees, although small businesses will have an extra six months to adjust to the change.

Mr Albanese attended a vigil outside Parliament House for victims of domestic violence alongside women safety advocates.
“The fact is that not every sense of grief arises from a declared war but a conflict that takes place around us every single day,” he said.
“Every day this is occurring insidiously, quietly, relentlessly. It is a stain on our national soul that we have so much family and domestic violence.”
He said family and domestic violence leave would be an “essential component” of protecting survivors.

The leave balance is expected to be fully operational in all workplaces by August next year.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese attends the domestic violence vigil. Credit: Supplied.

Employment Minister Tony Burke – who introduced the legislation – said the delay would allow businesses a chance to understand their obligations and have appropriate mechanisms and payroll practices in place to manage the requirement sensitively.

“I wish the starting date was years ago rather than next year,” he told parliament on Thursday.

“As a nation we can and must do better … workplaces have a key role to play as a source of critical support for people experiencing family and domestic violence.”

Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) president Michelle O’Neil also attended the vigil and described the leave allowance as something that would “literally save lives”.
“Nobody should have to choose between their job, their pay and their safety,” she said.

“We need to change the situation that puts mainly women at risk and make sure that this is something that everybody understands is unacceptable.”

Employment Minister Tony Burke.

Minister for Employment Tony Burke introduces the Fair Work Amendment (Paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave) Bill in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra. Source: AAP / MICK TSIKAS

Jennifer Westacott, chief executive of the Business Council of Australia said the group also backed the plan to introduce the domestic violence leave provisions.

“We’ve been a strong advocate for domestic violence leave,” she told reporters.

“There are some transition issues … particularly for small business but this is really important to give victims of domestic violence a chance to get their lives together.”

In Australia, on average one woman a week is murdered by her current or former partner.
Domestic violence worker Samantha Parker said the leave would help protect vulnerable survivors.
“It is unacceptable that women who are trying to leave abusive relationships are having to choose between work and safety,” she said.
“Paid domestic violence leave offers women an opportunity to keep themselves and their children safe and I believe it will save lives.”
If you or someone you know is impacted by family and domestic violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit . In an emergency, call 000. The Men’s Referral Service provides advice for men on domestic violence and can be contacted on 1300 766 491.
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