Unions make another push to expand DV leave before COAG

Unions today used a roundtable event to renew calls to expand minimum domestic violence leave provisions as Australia approaches the season when violent incidents increase.

Today’s event wraps up 16 days of focused workplace activities to address the community scourge of domestic violence, especially moving into Christmas holidays which traditionally see spikes in reports to authorities.

State government ministers Shannon Fentiman and Grace Grace listening to frontline workers in domestic violence responses at the Roundtable today at the QCU.
State government ministers Shannon Fentiman and Grace Grace listening to frontline workers in domestic violence responses at the Roundtable today at the QCU.

QCU General Secretary Ros McLennan said today’s roundtable was an opportunity to lobby state representatives before tomorrow’s COAG meeting with the federal government on addressing domestic violence.

“Unions will call today and every day for the federal government to extend paid DV leave to all workers – whether they’re covered by awards, EBs and the National Employment Standards,” she said.

The roundtable coincided with an announcement from Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk that she would push for other states at COAG to follow Queensland’s lead and legislate to provide paid leave for those affected by domestic and family violence.

Ms McLennan said the leave is for attendance at court appearances, medical or legal appointments, finding other safe accommodation or sorting out kids’ school moves or issues.

“It also means that women in this dire situation can keep their jobs – and with it, their financial freedom and support networks away from the perpetrator,” she said.

QCU General Secretary Ros McLennan, with frontline domestic violence worker and women's refuge manager Rosemary Larkin, talks to media after today's roundtable.
QCU General Secretary Ros McLennan, with frontline domestic violence worker and women’s refuge manager Rosemary Larkin, talks to media after today’s roundtable.

Ms McLennan said health professionals were often affected emotionally and physically when dealing with victims of domestic violence.

Queensland government Child Safety Minister Shannon Fentiman and Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace were also at the event to hear from frontline workers, including those in the police force, women’s refuge accommodation, and nurses.

Queensland Police Union Vice-President Shayne Maxwell said responding to increasing domestic violence incidents over Christmas puts a tremendous strain on our police workforce.

“This is already a time when resources are stretched in other areas for the holiday period,” he said.

Queensland Nurses’ Union Secretary Beth Mohle said domestic violence presentations traditionally increased during the festive season.

“For many, the Christmas period is a time of relaxation with loved ones.  But for some it’s a period of anxiety and fear. Around 200 domestic violence incidents are reported in Queensland each day with an increased demand over the Christmas period,’’ Ms Mohle said.

“Emergency Department (ED) nurses do experience a rise in incidents of domestic violence presentations over the summer holidays.

“Unfortunately there are no clear cut ways to record injuries such as broken limbs as domestic violence related if the victim is unwilling or unable to admit they have been harmed in that way.

“That is why the Queensland Nurses’ Union welcomes training for ED nurses that aims to assist them in identifying cases of domestic and family violence that will be rolled out across Queensland Health in the near future.”

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