Media Release by The Hon Tanya Pibersek MP

Government launches two new anti-domestic violence initiatives

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon Robert McClelland MP, Attorney General

The Australian Government today announced two initiatives to address domestic and family violence.

Funding has been provided for a new project to raise awareness amongst employers, employees and unions on supporting employees experiencing domestic violence.

The Government has provided $440,000 over the next 18 months to the Australian Domestic and Family Violence Clearinghouse for the Domestic Violence Workplace Rights and Entitlements project.

Providing support at the workplace for those experiencing domestic violence is of vital importance. Research provided by the Clearinghouse shows that the two thirds of women reporting recent domestic violence are in paid employment.

The Clearinghouse also found that returning or staying in work is a critical pathway for women to leaving a violent relationship, yet the negative impact on a women’s work performance can put their employment at risk. 

The project will support project managers to build the capacity of workplaces to support employees affected by domestic violence through training and resources, as well as examining ways to address this issue through collective bargaining.

This could mean including provisions in collective agreements such as specific leave options, privacy provisions, safety measures, or policy development and training for management and key staff.

“The Government recognises that supporting employees experiencing domestic violence to stay in work is a critical pathway to provide financial security and to gain safety,” Minister for the Status of Women, Tanya Plibersek said.

“The Fair Work Act has introduced many measures to support employees. This new project will provide support and assistance for business and employee to develop practical strategies to support employees through a very difficult period in their lives.

The Clearinghouse will work with Government, employer representatives and unions to share its expertise and work on practical ways of providing this support in workplaces.

Gaby Marcus, Director of the Australian Domestic and Family Violence Clearinghouse, said she was delighted to have received this funding. 

“Our research shows quite clearly how important employment is in the process of recovery and reestablishment,” Ms Marcus said.  

Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, also announced that the Government will ask the Australian Law Reform Commission to review the impact of Commonwealth laws on victims of family and domestic violence.

The inquiry will build on the Commission’s current examination of the interaction between State and Territory domestic violence and child protection laws and the family law system. 

“The effects of family and domestic violence can be devastating and long-lasting, which is why I have asked the Commission to identify improvements that can be made across Government to support those at risk of violence,” Mr McClelland said.

It is anticipated that the ALRC’s report will be provided to the Attorney-General by 30 November 2011.

Today’s announcements come ahead of the Government’s National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children, which will be announced soon.