Michelle Lensink

Domestic Violence

I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking a question of the Minister for the Status of Women regarding the government's workplace domestic violence policies

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: The Women's Safety Strategy 2011-22, A Right to Safety, has in one of its frameworks for action at 1.3 under 'Promote gender equality' to:

Develop workplace measures to support women experiencing and escaping from domestic violence.

I have also examined the Women's Safety Strategy, which I think might be the most recent one, 2005-10, which outlines, department by department, each of the strategies. Within that, the only department reference that I can see which might address this topic is relationship violence at work. My questions for the minister are:

1. Is she aware of any departments that have workplace domestic violence policies?

2. For those departments that do not have them, what is she doing to address this measure?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for Employment, Higher Education and Skills, Minister for Science and Information Economy, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for Business Services and Consumers) (14:21): I thank the honourable member for her most important question, which indeed shines a light on the wonderful work that this government has done in this space. We have provided real leadership in relation to supporting women in the workplace who might be victims of domestic violence, by ensuring that policies are put in place to lend them support.

I have spoken in this place before on numerous occasions on our violence against women and children agenda, which has been quite a comprehensive one. I spoke—I think it was in question time this week—outlining initiatives in relation to our legislative reform of sexual assault and also our domestic violence legislation, the introduction of intervention orders, and the placement of a special domestic violence position in the Coroner's Court to help assess and address systemic issues. A great deal is being done in this place.

We have also, as I said, done quite a bit of work in terms of policy, right to safety. ARTS builds on the reforms undertaken through the Women's Safety Strategy to improve legislation and services and strengthen the community's understanding of the effects of violence against women, and also has a strong focus on early intervention and prevention as I have spoken about.

ARTS also outlines the South Australian government's commitment to the national plan to reduce violence against women and their children. ARTS is led by a chief executive group chaired by the Minister for the Status of Women, and the group involves chief executives, for example, from the Department for the Premier and Cabinet, the Attorney-General's, Corrections, Health, Communities and Social Inclusion, and Education and Child Development. That group brings together a range of strategic perspectives to assist government to deliver women's safety services in South Australia and there is a number of initiatives like the family safety framework, research and investigation, violence against women collaborations and the workplace domestic violence policies as well.

In relation to workplace domestic violence, given that I have spoken at length on the other initiatives in this place, I will move on to talk about the workplace domestic violence policies. Workplaces have been identified as key environments in which to undertake preventive action to help reduce violence against women and to support women who may be experiencing or escaping domestic violence. All South Australian government departments are implementing domestic violence workplace policies, if they haven't already. This was endorsed by the Premier some time ago. He has a keen interest in this area and, as I said, has personally endorsed a model policy to be looked at and adopted by agencies.

In terms of the agencies and the report to date, I have been advised that DCSI has completed their domestic violence workplace policy, DPC has completed theirs, DTF is completed, DECS is completed, Health is completed, PIRSA is completed, DMITRE is completed, DFEEST I understand has just been completed, DPTI is completed, DEWNR is completed, EPA (that can be incorporated under DEWNR) is completed, SAPOL is completed and I think there are two, the AGD and DCS, that are in development and almost completed. So it is almost fully implemented.

Obviously, it doesn't stop there. We are also holding ourselves out to be a model employer and promoting the work that we have done and the policies that we have implemented to the private sector and encouraging the private sector to also include similar policies in their workplaces. Domestic violence workplace policies provide employers and employees with information about the support available for employees in the workplace.

Support for employees who experience domestic violence could include things like accessing personal leave; addressing health issues; attending legal conferences, hearings or meetings; financial child care; or other matters that may assist them to progress towards a life free from violence and its effects. Apart from the benefits to individual employees, domestic violence workplace policies position organisations to take a zero tolerance approach to all forms of violence against women and, of course, obviously workplaces are important settings for promoting equal and respectful relationships and have a positive role in promoting healthy and respectful cultures in the broader community.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (14:28): Supplementary question. Could the minister commit to ensuring that these policies are available on the Office for Women's website and individual departmental websites to ensure that other workplaces might consider adopting them?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for Employment, Higher Education and Skills, Minister for Science and Information Economy, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for Business Services and Consumers) (14:28): I'm not sure that they aren't. I have to say, I find it quite incredulous that the opposition can stand there in this place poking their finger at what is a very impressive track record when it looks like the Abbott Liberal government is going to reduce money for housing that provides very important shelter for women seeking refuge from domestic violence.

We see a Liberal federal government that has not committed funding beyond, I think, this financial year. There is no further money in the forward estimates. They refuse to comment about the future of that homelessness money and, as I said, a part of that homelessness money here supports funding for shelter and housing for women seeking refuge. I think that the member opposite me should take a good hard look at their own Liberal government and, if they want to make a difference in this space, work on their own federal colleagues to lift their game and commit to future funding.

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