Why is the Minister for DV against paid DV leave for transit workers?

In Question Time today, Abigail asked the Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Sexual Violence why she is so publicly against increasing domestic violence leave for transit workers. 

Ms ABIGAIL BOYD (12:37): My question is directed to the Minister for Women's Safety and the Prevention of Domestic and Sexual Violence. Sydney Trains and Unions NSW, with the backing of the Minister for Transport and the domestic violence sector, have agreed to increase domestic violence leave entitlements to 20 days annually. However, the Minister has publicly spoken out against increasing domestic violence leave entitlements. How can the Minister for Women's Safety and the Prevention of Domestic and Sexual Violence justify advocating for even fewer protections for people experiencing domestic violence and working for Sydney Trains, instead of using this opportunity to improve the lives of a group of victim-survivors while setting a precedent for other employers to follow?

The Hon. NATALIE WARD (Minister for Metropolitan Roads, and Minister for Women's Safety and the Prevention of Domestic and Sexual Violence) (12:38): I thank the honourable member for her continued interest in this area, and for the opportunity to speak about it. I say respectfully that her question is incorrect. It is not correct to say that I have spoken publicly against extended domestic violence leave. For the record, and for the House, that is not correct. Supporting victim-survivors of family and domestic violence is of paramount importance to me. It is a privilege to serve as the Minister for Women's Safety and the Prevention of Domestic and Sexual Violence. This Government is absolutely committed to having a standalone Minister whose job it is to address and reduce those issues. I would like to put myself out of this role because we did not need to have a Minister for them.

The Liberal-Nationals Government provides 10 days of paid domestic and family violence leave, and that is in effect for New South Wales public sector employees. It came into effect on 1 January 2019. It has been done and it is in place. This Government has been very clear about that. The entitlement is available to all public sector employees as defined by the Government Sector Employment Act 2013, which is well known. I believe it is vital that we have a consistent approach across all of the government sector in relation to domestic and family violence. It is important not just for one sector but across all sectors; family and domestic violence does not distinguish by where you work, what union you belong to or what postcode you live in. It should be available to all. Our job is to wrap around and provide support to those victim‑survivors in this context.

Domestic violence does not discriminate. It is very clear to me, and it is my priority, that we ensure that we provide that support across the board. Let us be very clear about this particular discussion: This is but one component of the wider industrial relations negotiations that are being undertaken by Minister Tudehope. I have personally conveyed my views to the Secretary of the Department of Premier and Cabinet. I have made it clear that I support the reduction of domestic and family violence through providing support services and leave for public sector employees across the board. I hope that the parties to those negotiations can continue to negotiate in good faith. I hope that they can reach a resolution. I have been absolutely unwavering clear: My commitment is to support family and domestic violence survivors to get through what is a dreadful and terrible time in their lives, so that they can be safe and secure.

Ms ABIGAIL BOYD (12:40): I ask a supplementary question. Will the Minister elucidate on her response that she has not spoken out against the proposal for additional domestic violence leave for Sydney Trains? Is that statement consistent with the reporting and statement that the Minister has just made in this place that she would not support the extension of that leave for Sydney Trains, because it is just one sector?

The Hon. NATALIE WARD (Minister for Metropolitan Roads, and Minister for Women's Safety and the Prevention of Domestic and Sexual Violence) (12:41): I can be absolutely clear about that. As I have informed the House and will repeat: My intention is that paid domestic and family violence leave should be available across the board. Domestic violence does not discriminate by postcode or by where you work. My intent is to provide that entitlement across all of government. It is a whole-of-government discussion, a whole-of-government issue and it is something that we should provide across the whole of government. That is my job. My job is not to be part of these negotiations. My job is to ensure that we provide this leave and have a consistent approach across all of the New South Wales government sector regarding domestic and family violence leave, not just one sector. For that very reason I have highlighted that we have in place the 10 days of paid domestic and family violence leave for public sector employees. It came into effect on 1 January 2019.

This Government is absolutely committed to supporting women and children to escape violence and to find a safe place to live. It is a key priority for the Perrottet Government. One of our Premier's Priorities is to reduce domestic violence re-offending by 25 per cent by 2023. It is a challenging area. It is one that we have a specific Minister for, we have a Premier's Priority for and that we are absolutely committed to. In relation to the specifics of those negotiations, that is a matter for Minister Tudehope. I hope that the parties continue to negotiate in good faith. I am pleased that we are discussing paid domestic and family violence leave and that it is in place. Some time ago, as members in this place will know, it was not available to victim‑survivors—and it should be. We encourage that. This Government has made the largest funding commitment ever to the domestic and family violence sector. This Government is clear about that and will support that. That is my job every day and I am committed to doing it.

 

The full transcript can be found in Hansard, here.

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