Open Letter to the Fair Work Commission - ACTU Australian Unions

Open Letter to the Fair Work Commission


Dear Vice President Watson,

We write to support the application before the Fair Work Commission for a new modern award entitlement to 10 days paid family and domestic violence leave.

While some progress has been made through enterprise bargaining and workplace policies,[1] there are still too many Australian employees subjected to family and domestic violence that cannot access the workplace support they need. Existing entitlements such as personal leave and annual leave simply do not provide adequate protection.

The safety of these employees is placed at risk every day that we delay in providing universal access to paid family and domestic violence leave.

This is a workplace right that will save lives.

A national crisis

The evidence and research showing the prevalence and seriousness of family and domestic violence across the Australian community is overwhelming and incontrovertible.

We are facing nothing short of a national crisis.

Family and domestic violence affects people from all walks of life. The evidence shows that one in six women, and one in 20 men, have experienced at least one incident of violence from a current or former partner since the age of 15.[2]

Aboriginal and Torres Strait women, people with disabilities, LGBTIQ and culturally diverse communities also face particular challenges and may experience family and domestic violence in different ways.[3]   

Family and domestic violence is a workplace issue

The workplace has a crucial role to play in a whole-of-community response to family and domestic violence.

Many people subjected to family and domestic violence are also in paid employment.[4]

Overwhelmingly, economic factors determine whether a person subjected to domestic violence remains in, escapes or returns to a dangerous relationship.[5]

A number of inquiries and reviews have highlighted the significance of the workplace in responding to family and domestic violence, and the importance of paid leave specifically.[6]

In addition, the Governments of Victoria, South Australia, Queenland and Australian Capital Territory have advised the Commonwealth Government that they support universal access to paid family and domestic violence leave through the Council of Australian Governments.

Paid leave will allow an employee subjected to family and domestic violence to take an absence from work to attend appointments with medical, legal or financial professionals, or to make arrangements to relocate or ensure their children’s protection, without suffering financial disadvantage.

This not only supports people subjected to current violence, but also facilitates safe escape from dangerous situations, thus helping to reduce or eliminate further violence.

Employers who already provide paid family and domestic violence leave to their employees say that only small numbers of employees seek to access the leave and implementation costs are manageable.[7]

A workplace right that will save lives

Paid family and domestic violence leave will make a tangible and vital contribution to the prevention of family and domestic violence in Australia.

The impact of this new entitlement on employers is likely to be minimal, but for employees who need support, paid leave will make all the difference in the world – particularly for those trying to keep children safe.

As Rosie Batty has said, workplace support in the form of paid leave would have made a real difference to her and her family during times of crisis.


We strongly believe that this entitlement is necessary to ensure that the safety net of minimum employment conditions in this country remains both fair and relevant.

It is imperative that the employment safety net continues to respond to the real issues that employees and employers deal with in modern workplaces.

The unacceptably high rate of family and domestic violence in Australia is exactly such an issue.

This is an historic opportunity for the Fair Work Commission to ensure that all Australians can access the support they need to escape family and domestic violence and rebuild their lives.

We, the undersigned, urge the Fair Work Commission to allow the application for 10 days paid domestic violence leave

Yours sincerely,

[1] Over a million workers now have access to domestic violence-related workplace entitlements

[3] Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence, Volume 5, Chapter 26 - Family Violence and Diversity

[4] For example, approximately 1.4 million Australian women are currently living, or have lived in the past, in a violent relationship. Around 800,000 of these women are in the paid workforce.

[5]The Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence found that financial security is a significant protective factor in people gaining freedom from abusive situations

[6] Commonwealth of Australia, National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children

2010–2022; Commonwealth of Australia, Domestic Violence in Australia, Senate Inquiry, August 2015 (Senate

Inquiry Report); Australian Law Reform Commission, Final Report Family Violence and Commonwealth Laws—

Improving Legal Frameworks (ALRC Report 117), February 2012; New South Wales, Stop the Violence, End the Silence, NSW Government, June 2010:; South Australia, Taking a Stand: Responding to Domestic Violence, October 2014; Queensland, Not Now, Not Ever, Queensland Government Special Taskforce, February 2015; Victoria, Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence, March 2016

[7] Implementation of Domestic Violence Clauses – An Employer’s Perspective, Gendered Violence Research Network, University of NSW, Sydney, November 2015.

Who's supporting

Anonymous Tablelands Sexual Assault Service
Amber Chambers Brisbane Rape and Incest Survivor Support Centre
David Ritter Greenpeace Australia Pacific
Alison Sexton-Green
Diane Snooks Fremantle Women's Health Centre
Lianne Blanch
Deanne Kamid YWCA Darwin
kai fremont
Tina Namow
kitty michel
Shirley O'Toole Shirley O'Toole Facilitation and Training
Vanessa Lethlean Top End Women's Legal Service
Megan Bartley
Aditi Srinivas
Susan Crane Dawn House
Juanita Van Dam
Christine Short
Kathy Nash
Bastiaan van Dalen
Anna Davis NT Working Women's Centre
Pat Bradley
Kate Bosser NFAW
Pat Rayner
Susan Price Rape and DV Services
Jane Garratt
Kylie Hickey
Nic Healey 🎙️🥃
Kirsten Sutherland
Debra Smith

89 supporters

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Showing 94 reactions

  • Anonymous
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    Tablelands Sexual Assault Service endorsed 2016-12-09 00:31:29 +1100
  • Amber Chambers
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    Brisbane Rape and Incest Survivor Support Centre endorsed 2016-12-07 17:49:40 +1100
  • David Ritter
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    Greenpeace Australia Pacific endorsed 2016-12-04 09:19:16 +1100
  • Alison Sexton-Green
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    endorsed 2016-12-02 16:30:14 +1100
    Women stay in violent situations because the don’t have the means to escape. Domestic Violence leave will help women and children find a safe place sooner and save lives.
  • Diane Snooks
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    Fremantle Women's Health Centre endorsed 2016-12-02 15:28:47 +1100
  • Lianne Blanch
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    endorsed 2016-12-02 15:10:55 +1100
  • Deanne Kamid
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    YWCA Darwin endorsed 2016-12-02 13:15:32 +1100
  • kai fremont
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    endorsed 2016-12-02 12:24:57 +1100
    we support the right to have paid leave for family and domestic violence
  • Tina Namow
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    endorsed 2016-12-02 12:21:25 +1100
    I support paid family and domestic violence leave
  • kitty michel
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    endorsed 2016-12-02 12:19:58 +1100
  • Shirley O'Toole
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    Shirley O'Toole Facilitation and Training endorsed 2016-12-02 11:28:07 +1100
  • Vanessa Lethlean
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    Top End Women's Legal Service endorsed 2016-12-02 11:20:27 +1100
    The workplace has a crucial role to play in a whole-of-community response to family and domestic violence. The proposed provisions recognise and facilitate this.
  • Megan Bartley
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    endorsed 2016-12-02 11:15:49 +1100
  • Aditi Srinivas
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    posted about this on Facebook 2016-12-02 10:46:57 +1100
    I'm endorsing ACTU Australian Unions. Please join me!
  • Aditi Srinivas
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    endorsed 2016-12-02 10:46:05 +1100
  • Susan Crane
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    Dawn House endorsed 2016-12-02 10:44:37 +1100
  • Juanita Van Dam
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    endorsed via 2016-12-02 10:31:04 +1100
  • Christine Short
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    endorsed 2016-12-02 10:22:38 +1100
    I was fortunate to have access to domestic and family violence leave in the NT public sector (negotiated by the CPSU) when I needed it. I had to go to court four or five times over two years to renew orders and each time I had to spend hours in court to achieve that. I was so glad that I could use the DFVL to make things easier during what was a terrible period of my life.
  • Kathy Nash
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    endorsed 2016-12-02 09:56:58 +1100
  • Bastiaan van Dalen
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    endorsed 2016-12-02 09:24:32 +1100
  • Anna Davis
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    NT Working Women's Centre endorsed 2016-12-02 09:19:08 +1100
  • Pat Bradley
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    endorsed 2016-12-02 09:14:58 +1100
  • Kate Bosser
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    NFAW endorsed 2016-12-02 08:52:44 +1100
  • Pat Rayner
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    endorsed 2016-12-02 08:28:01 +1100
  • Susan Price
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    Rape and DV Services endorsed 2016-12-02 08:00:38 +1100
  • Jane Garratt
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    endorsed 2016-12-02 07:54:35 +1100
  • Kylie Hickey
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    endorsed 2016-12-02 07:36:44 +1100
  • Nic Healey 🎙️🥃
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    endorsed 2016-12-02 07:34:57 +1100
  • Kirsten Sutherland
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    endorsed 2016-12-02 07:34:32 +1100
    I escaped family violence. This would have helped so much. It’s hard enough leaving but the fall out is huge. Having paid leave is a must without it victims stay in their current situation more often then not. Im 5 years free of my abuser and im mid hearing for another IVO. I always worry that if I lose my job because of the steps I have to take to stay safe where will my child and i end up.
  • Debra Smith
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    endorsed 2016-12-02 07:29:13 +1100
    Paid domestic violence leave makes sense. It’s not only compassionate and supporting of people leaving violence. It’s also beneficial to employers, helping them manage the impact on their businesses caused by DV – unplanned absenteeism, productivity, recruiting and retraining replacement staff. It’s a win/win.