Human Rights Commission asked Cash to relent on domestic violence

May 26, 2016

Human-rightsA plea from the Human Rights Commission for the Coalition government to relent on its hard line on specific domestic violence leave for public servants has been rejected.

Minister for women Michaelia Cash has told the Commission that public servants have enough access to leave if they are victims of abuse in the home and that no changes to the government’s tough bargaining stance would be made, Commission staff have been told.

The HRC took the unusual step of bypassing Public Service Commissioner John Lloyd, who enforces the controversial bargaining policy, and appealing directly to the minister after being told by Mr Lloyd’s agency that specific leave provisions for domestic violence victims were not allowed.

The issue has been a flashpoint since early March when The Canberra Times revealed that agencies and departments were being forced, often against their will, to reject union proposals for specific provisions for time off work in situations of domestic violence.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s office, Mr Lloyd and Senator Cash all reacted angrily to the coverage with the Commissioner saying existing provisions in public service workplace agreements were adequate to help workers experiencing family violence.

But the Human Rights Commission is one agency that does not agree, with workers told this month by Executive Director Padma Raman that the HRC had asked Senator Cash to reconsider her position on the issue but had been rebuffed.

“We’d also like to advise staff that in March we wrote to Minister Cash to request that the government reconsider their policy on Domestic Violence Leave,” Ms Raman wrote in an all-staff email on May 12.

“We have now received a response from the Minister advising that she considers that existing leave provisions will suffice.”

The Community and Public Sector Union leapt on the revelation on Tuesday, with national secretary Nadine Flood saying it was more evidence the government “doesn’t get it”.

“Real public sector workers on average wages know Mr Lloyd’s rhetoric of ‘support and flexible leave’ is an empty promise,” the union leader said.

“They know all about the power dynamics faced by a women working shifts in a Centrelink call centre, for example, where leave is hard to take at the best of times and talking to her boss about family violence and asking for unspecified leave is often all but impossible.

“This Government just doesn’t get it.” To read more click here.

The 2016 Stop Domestic Violence Conference will be held on 5 – 7 December at the Mercure Hotel in Brisbane. To express your interest in the 2016 Conference CLICK HERE.

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