Starick Women’s Refuge offers paid domestic violence leave to employees


Ged Kearney and Leanne Barron.
Ged Kearney and Leanne Barron.

A BENTLEY women’s refuge has become the latest local employer to offer domestic violence leave to employees during Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA) negotiations.

Following a national push for such schemes, Starick Women’s Refuge has joined the City of Canning in offering paid domestic violence leave to victims.

A recent report released by the Male Champions of Change recommended businesses provide additional paid leave to employees experiencing violence and acknowledged that 10 days paid leave was becoming the norm.

Refuge chief executive Leanne Barron said it was important for an organisation that protects victims of domestic violence to establish safeguards for staff.

“Domestic Violence leave embedded in Awards, Enterprise Bargaining Agreement and National Employment Standards are a significant step forward in Australia providing rights and entitlements for working women experiencing domestic and family violence,” she said.

Ms Barron said services also needed to go further to protect victims.

“Frontline services such as women’s refuges, community legal services, women’s health centres and community housing require increased funding to provide vital support to women and children fleeing violent partners,” she said.

“There is also a great unmet need for funds to go towards services including early intervention to support children who are the victims of domestic violence.”

Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) president Ged Kearney said domestic violence leave was a positive step for employers.

“Those who fear for their or their family’s safety should not have to worry about losing their jobs if they need to attend court or access community support,” she said.

“The first-hand experience of unions and businesses is that domestic violence leave is an overwhelmingly positive experience for employers as well as employees.”

A survey commissioned by the ACTU late last year and conducted by the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and Gendered Violence Research Network found employers reported virtually no problems granting paid domestic violence leave or changes to work arrangements.

The UNSW survey found one third of respondents reported at least one domestic violence leave request in the past 12 months; of those employees who requested domestic violence leave, 92 per cent were women and the typical amount of leave taken was two to three days.

It also found one quarter of employers had received requests for alternate work arrangements, such as differing starting times, alternate carparking and change in phone numbers to improve their safety and employers reported highly positive outcomes with raised workplace moral and employees feeling safe, supported and free from fear of losing their jobs.