Labor has opportunity to act on domestic violence crisis

The new Palaszczuk Labor government has an opportunity to redress the Newman government’s lack of decisive action in addressing domestic violence, unions say.

Queensland Council of Unions Assistant General Secretary Ros McLennan called on the new government to revamp industrial relations laws to complement other legislative changes recommended in a recent major report, Not Now, Not Ever.

“The Newman government failed Queenslanders on this important issue which affects one in three workers in Australia and has accounted for 44 per cent of homicides in our state,” Ms McLennan said.

“Unions are leading the way on a solution. We encourage the new Government to come to the table for Queenslanders who want to see action on domestic violence in our state,” she said

She said there had been two murders this week in Queensland allegedly related to domestic violence (as of 5 March 2015).

Ms McLennan pointed to a recent ACTU submission to the Fair Work Commission to have domestic violence (DV) rights and protections included in all awards.

Australians would then their rights at work protected in a domestic violence situation. This includes ten days of DV leave. There are also additional clauses which can protect workers in a DV situation; such as protection from discrimination and adverse action or being terminated.

“We welcome a new approach to addressing domestic violence in Queensland and look forward to seeing outcomes from a state government,” she said.

 “The Newman Government merely paid lip service to this critical issue,” Ms McLennan said.

In less than three years, the Newman LNP government:

  • voted down legislation in Parliament which aimed to increase penalties for offenders
  • cut funding for essential programs to assist victims such as Legal Aid
  • ignored inclusion of rights and protections for workers experiencing domestic violence  in Award Modernisation discussions.

 “Community support services such as DV services as a first point of call and referred services such as accessible Legal Aid are essential and need further state government funding to do the job which they are there to do,” she said.

“In addition, the most practical support for people experiencing domestic violence is support in the workplace: often their only safe haven and only opportunity for the financial independence to leave. It is hard to pick up and leave with your children and even harder if you can get no leave and are under threat of losing your job.”

The QCU urged the new Palaszczuk Government to:

  • consult with the QCU and domestic violence organisations about including domestic violence rights and protections in Queensland State Awards
  • demonstrate their commitment to tackling this issue by announcing support for the ACTU’s call for DV provisions in National Employment Standards and Modern Awards
  • reinstate and increase funding for Queensland support services including domestic violence services and Legal Aid QLD

“If the Palaszczuk Government is serious about tackling domestic violence for Queenslanders, they will support these measures,” Ms McLennan said.

She said the federal Coalition government had shown a complete lack of commitment and capacity in addressing domestic violence, consistently shying away from meaningful reforms.

“’Minister for Women’ Tony Abbott has shamefully watched on as the gap between male and female average incomes has increased to more than 18 per cent,” Ms McLennan said.

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