Supporting employees experiencing domestic violence

In a world where we have advanced on so many social and technological levels, it’s confronting to see that in Australia 1 in every 6 women – 17% or 1.7 million women – have experienced physical and or sexual violence by a current or previous cohabitating partner since the age of 15. For men, it’s every 1 in 18 – 5.5% or 527,000. (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare).

We only have to look around our own workplaces and among our retail customers to understand this is a significant number of people that we have direct contact with on a daily basis, who are mostly suffering in silence.

November is a month dedicated to raising awareness of the prevalence of domestic violence in Australia.

Some of the key reasons people may stay with an abusive partner includes having dependents, or not having financial means or the emotional capacity to leave. This is why charity organisations and women’s shelters are an important part of social structures to provide support. Additionally having access through the Australian Government’s Parenting Payment can provide income support to single parents and other carers who have sole responsibility for dependents.

On the other hand, people who are employed also experience domestic violence. During these periods they may be rehabilitating from injuries, reporting incidents to Police, visiting doctors, seeking advice and help from service providers and moving to a safer location, all while also dealing with the emotional turmoil and shock from being abused.

In a retail context, this could mean as an employer you will be required to cover staffing arrangements until your employee/or yourself has moved from a state of immediate threat, into something where they/you can continue to work again. Providing the space and time is important to the employee, who will need to retain financial independence in order to keep themselves away from the abuser and safe for the long term.

This year on 1 August the entitlement to paid family and domestic violence leave was introduced. It comes from the National Employment Standards (NES) which is a paid minimum leave entitlement, like annual leave or paid sick and carer’s leave.

Under this entitlement, full-time, part-time and casual employees have the right to access 10 days of paid family and domestic violence leave in a 12-month period.


Family and domestic violence leave – National Employment Standards




During domestic violence month is a good time to raise awareness of these leave entitlements with your employees, and let the 1 in 6 people in your organisation know that if or when they experience domestic violence, that support structures are in place, and that they will be able to return to their position in order to maintain financial independence and continue to move forward in their lives.


Support services

Help is available: 1800RESPECT is the national domestic, family and sexual violence counselling, information and support service. If you or someone you know is experiencing, or at risk of experiencing, domestic, family or sexual violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit

In case of emergency, call 000.



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