Landmark Fair Work Decision - A Win for Domestic Violence Victims
Domestic Violence has come under the social spotlight recently with many reports in the media of horrendous acts of family and domestic violence, too often with a fatal outcome and disproportionately affecting women.
Statistics show that by the age of fifteen (15) at least one (1) in four (4) women are a victim of some form of Family and Domestic Violence ('FDV').1
In the first half of 2022 alone, eighteen (18) women in Australia have been killed by a current or previous intimate partner. This is approximately one (1) death per week.2
Under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth), family violence is defined as 'violent, threatening or other behaviour by a person that coerces or
controls a member of the person's family (the family member) or causes the family member to be fearful.' 3
Examples of FDV include: -
- Sexual assault or sexually abusive behaviour
- Physical violence
- Verbal abuse
- Intentionally damaging or destroying property
- Unreasonably withholding money and or financial support
- Threatening to kill and harm a family member
- Intentionally killing or injuring an animal
- Preventing or withholding a family member from making or keeping connections with their family and/or friends
Currently under the National Employment Standards (NES) all employees, whether covered by a modern award or not, are entitled to 5 days of unpaid FDV leave.4
Whilst this gives victims some interim relief when escaping a violent relationship, it is does not financially assist victims, who are often forced to flee their
homes and uproot both their own and their children's lives when escaping violent relationships.
On 16 May 2022 the Fair Work Commission made a landmark provisional decision which entitles employees to ten (10) days paid FDV leave per year. This decision currently only applies to full time and part time employees. The full bench said when making their decision:
"FDV is a ubiquitous and persistent social problem. While men can, and do, experience FDV, such violence disproportionately affects women."
Advocates are hopeful that the government will use this decision as an opportunity to implement urgent law reforms to help protect victims of FDV.
If you or someone you know is experiencing family or domestic violence, you may find the following services helpful: -
- Police – if you are in immediate danger, you can contact the Police on 000.
- Domestic Violence Line – 24/7 information, support and referral service for people experiencing domestic and family violence.
They can be contacted on 1800 65 64 63 or http://domesticviolence.nsw.gov.au/.
- 1800RESPECT – 24/7 information, counselling and support service for people impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence.
They can be contacted on 1800 737 732 or https://www.1800respect.org.au/.
- LINK2HOME – 24/7 information and referral service for people experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness.
They can be contacted on 1800 152 152 or http://www.housing.nsw.gov.au/help-with-housing/specialist-homelessness-services/find-a-service/link2home.
- NSW Victims Services – Support, counselling, financial assistance, referral and information for people experiencing violence.
They can be contacted on 1800 633 063 or www.victims services.justice.nsw.gov.au.
- SAHSSI – Non-profit specialist homelessness organisation servicing the Illawarra and Shoalhaven regions supporting vulnerable women and families affected by
homelessness or domestic and family violence. They can be contacted on (02) 4229 8523 or www.sahssi.org.au.
- JobWatch (2018), Domestic and Family Violence—A Real Workplace Issue for Women, Discussion Paper, May.
- Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) s4AB(1).
- Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) s61(e).