Malcolm Turnbull and Michaelia Cash are overdue for a reality check: escaping family and domestic violence, safely, so people have a hope of rebuilding their lives in the near term, takes time and it takes money. The Federal Government's tinkering around the edges of policy, while simultaneously trying to cut funding to the community sector, won't make the difference required to save lives like paid family and domestic leave will and already does in workplaces where it exists.
For the many who glibly say to those suffering abuse ‘just leave’, our members in the community services sector who provide assistance to them have provided some facts and figures that show the enormity of organising a safe escape, the very thing our Federal Government claims to support.
Our members know how long it can take to recover from having been in abusive relationships, they know there are challenges and sacrifices, that so much time is needed to meet with police, lawyers, real estate agents, doctors, counsellors, schools, child care centres, etc.
AND most of the services needed to escape violence are only available within business hours.
It takes time...
- Visit potential rental properties to find a new home - 40 hours
- Pack up belongings, including children’s clothes and toys - 6 hours
- Moving belongings and unpacking in new home - 8 hours
- Find new schools and/or child care arrangements - 8 hours
- Talk to doctors, counsellors, children’s support professionals, teachers/principals - 16 hours
- Split or change bank accounts and other financial arrangements - 8 hours
- Visit and/or contact Centrelink to arrange changes or apply for relevant benefits - 15 hours
- Meet with police - 3 hours
- Meet with solicitors, legal aid - 6 hours
- Apply for protection orders and attend court hearings - 3 days
And it takes money...
- Solicitor (for initial appearance in court) - $2,500
- Removalist - $140 per hour
- Rental property bond and first month’s rent - $3,000
- Gas and electricity connections - $100
- Phone line - $150
- Counselling per session - $250
- New house set up with furniture, appliances, food - $5,000
- Vehicle expenses (petrol, parking, etc) to get to appointments, inspections, etc - $$
- New school expenses (eg. uniforms, fees, etc) - $$
People needing to escape violence can’t wait so WE WON'T WAIT!
To escape a violent relationship, you have to take time off work but you also desperately need the money you earn in your job to pay for everything that is required – making arrangements for a safe escape involves so many elements and it will be different for different people in different circumstances. One thing, however, remains the same for everyone: it is hard!
A minimum of 10 days’ paid leave in the National Employment Standards (NES) is a small change that makes a huge difference. We know because the ASU has been winning this paid leave, workplace by workplace, since 2010 when we won the first ever paid leave for dealing with family and domestic violence.
But the ASU believes this leave shouldn’t just be accessible to workers lucky enough to be employed in well-unionised workplaces with enterprise agreements, the ASU has been campaigning to make this leave universal for all workers via the NES.
What you can do to help
Join the campaign by first signing the petition to the Turnbull Government: http://bit.ly/DV-leave-petition-2016
- Watch the video where ASU members explain what people face in escaping violence: Without paid leave, you can’t leave.
- Be part of the 16 Days of Activism by participating on social media:
- Like/comment/share posts on Facebook and Retweet on Twitter, like:
- Print off signs and take photos of your support so you can post them on social media. Download four different A4 signs here: Photo opportunity signs for #WeWontWaitDV
- Use #WeWontWaitDV on all your social media posts/tweets so PM Malcolm Turnbull and Senator Michaelia Cash can see the flood of Australians who believe we can make a difference to people escaping family and domestic violence with paid leave.
- Contact your MPs, including Senators, most of them have Facebook and Twitter accounts so you can make comments that are seen by many, or you can contact them direct for a private message of your views: http://bit.ly/mp-sen-details
Mr Turnbull and Senator Cash need to stop the lip service and provide a minimum of 10 days' paid leave in the National Employment Standards because it is essential for anyone escaping violence safely and successfully. The sample lists of actions and expenses, even if not all are necessary for everyone, is so daunting for many that they decide to remain in dangerous situations – we can’t let considerations of time and money make people stay in violent relationships. We Won’t Wait.
A big thank you to the ASU members in the video explaining how much time and money is needed to create a safe route of escape, frontline workers who know too well the devastation caused by family and domestic violence, and what it takes to “just leave”.