ASU leads campaign to extend family violence leave

Adele Welsh (left) with other Geelong unionists and Senator Jess Walsh (second from right). Credit: Senator Jess Walsh/Facebook

Three Australian Services Union (ASU) delegates met with former state secretary of United Voice and Victorian senator Jess Walsh on July 7 to talk about paid family and domestic violence (FDV) leave and the origins of the world-first clause won by a local council near Geelong in 2010.

ASU delegate Adele Welsh, who spearheaded the campaign, remains passionate about the need to improve on FDV leave because “women are still experiencing unacceptably high rates of family violence”.

“On average in Australia, one woman is killed every week by a current or former partner and we know that rates of family violence increased during the pandemic,” Welsh told Green Left.

Studies show that climate change and climatic disasters increases women’s and girl’s risk of family and gendered violence. Floods and bushfire disasters have and are devastating communities and so the risks are ongoing.”

Welsh, a former president of Geelong Trades Hall, is keen for unionists to discuss a campaign to expand FDV leave.

“The Geelong Women Unionists Network, along with the ASU, played a pivotal role in assisting the passage of the world’s first Paid Family Violence leave clause, in 2010. This ground-breaking clause was inserted into a Surf Coast Shire Enterprise Bargaining Agreement,” she said.

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) in May handed down an “in-principle” decision to include 10 days of paid FDV leave into modern awards.

But the ruling fell short of granting 10 days FDV leave to casual employees, despite unions and advocates campaigning for it. This means that 8.4 million workers are currently denied access to FDV leave.

Labor has committed to 10 days paid FDV leave. Employment minister Tony Burke has given assurances that the federal government will prioritise a FDV leave clause in the National Employment Standards.