EASTERN Region domestic violence services head Robyn Fitall is calling on the private sector to follow the State Government’s lead to introduce family and domestic violence leave.
Public sector workers experiencing family and domestic violence will have access to 10 days leave and specialised support following Wednesday’s announcement.
WA has the second highest rate of reported physical and sexual violence against women in Australia.
Family and Domestic Violence Minister Simone McGurk urged other employers to consider the impact family and domestic violence has on their workforce and consider ways to support staff.
Midland-based Koolkuna chief executive Ms Fitall said domestic violence impacted on a person’s ability to manage their day-to-day lives.
“If private sector employers support their own employees, it sends not only the message that staff are valued but also to the community to recognise domestic violence is real,” she said.
“It does happen and it happens to all walks of life.
“Providing someone with the ability to attend the endless appointments and have the space and the time to determine what is best for them will naturally have a positive impact on their work.”
She said domestic and family violence leave was a great start to a colossal community issue.
“The challenge for many women we see is ‘where do I start?’ and ‘who is out there to help me?’,” she said.
“These are all important questions, and for people who access our services there is often a sigh of relief when we can provide support around all those difficult questions.
“In my opinion, there is also a level of accountability in that if you are saying you can have this leave, then what does this actually look like?
“Agencies need to be able to provide initial support and direct to appropriate support services around their personal circumstances.”
She urged employers to listen non-judgementally and provide an environment where staff considered domestic violence leave would not impact negatively on their work prospects.
“As a community, we need to work together to say enough is enough; domestic violence is not ok,” she said.
“Domestic violence leave is one way that potentially sends an important message to one employee that they are not alone and they have the opportunity to seek help, or even to understand if their relationship is a healthy one and do something about it.”
Premier Mark McGowan said as WA’s biggest employer, the State was leading the way by supporting domestic violence victims to attend medical appointments and court hearings.
He said people needed to stay involved with their workplace for their safety and long-term financial independence.
“At a critical time when victims need to feel safe and be supported, our public sector agencies will be able to offer a range of support including paid leave and counselling through existing work programs,” he said.
Eastern Region Domestic Violence Support Services Network
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