The Labor Party has vowed to introduce national paid leave for victims of family violence if it wins government at the next federal election.
Among a raft of amendments on workplace reform, the ALP national conference has endorsed “the right of every worker to a safe home, community and workplace”.
“Labor stands against family violence,” the amended policy platform reads. “Labor is committed to domestic violence leave as a universal workplace right, with appropriate paid leave and employer support.”
In a passionate, expletive-laden speech, controversial WA union leader Joe McDonald urged the Labor Party to not just talk about domestic violence, but do something to address it.
“I support this… You gotta make something happen about this one. It would’ve been easy to come here and talk about wars on construction sites… It would be easier to do a lot of things…
“I don’t know where you live but I know somewhere on the street where you live, there is a war in a kitchen for somebody. F#^%ing stop it, f#%^ing fix it. Do something about it.”
The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union’s WA assistant secretary who grew up in Scotland and was fined last year for “bullying” on a Perth work site, said he was speaking out on the issue “for my Mum”.
“This is only a start. Just once I would like to hear something come through here and be done.”
Implying the ALP’s actions did not always mirror its sentiment, he gestured to the desk of four officials presiding over the debate, chaired by ALP President Mark Butler, and noted only one woman.
“I’ve sat up there and I haven’t seen two women sit there at the same time,” he said, to cheers from the floor.
Moving the amendment, Queensland Unions assistant general secretary Roslyn McLennan said that some workers had access to domestic violence leave, but many did not.
“There’s a national momentum for change and the cost of ignoring the domestic violence crisis is too high,” Ms McLennan said, telling the conference it cost the economy $17 billion every year.
“It’s time to be clear about what we stand for. No more policy vagaries, no more weasel words. A real, practical and lasting commitment to help women and their children end this oppression.”
The ACTU is campaigning for victims of family violence to be granted an extra 10 days’ leave annually to deal with issues associated with protecting themselves.
Australian of the Year, anti-violence campaigner Rosie Batty, has backed the call.