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SA public servants to get domestic violence leave

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Domestic violence victims employed in South Australia’s public sector will receive more than two weeks of special paid leave each year, beginning in 2016.

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The State Government announced today that public servants will receive an extra 15 days of special paid leave in a 12-month period so they can keep their jobs while dealing with family violence.

“Paid work provides the financial stability to enable women to leave an abusive relationship and to recover from abuse,” Status of Women Minister Gail Gago said.

The Government said the additional leave was aimed at ensuring victims could maintain employment while they “take action to break the cycle of violence”.

The new leave, to come into effect early in 2016, offers more leave than the five days promised by federal Labor. The concept was also debated at the recent state Labor convention, as reported by InDaily in October.

The Queensland Labor Government also announced such a scheme today, with that state’s public servants to be offered up to 10 days of domestic violence leave each year.

SA Public Sector Minister Susan Close said the workplace had a key role to play in supporting domestic violence victims.

“Domestic violence has an impact on workplaces and as the largest employer in the state we need to lead by example,” Close said.

“It is likely that employees affected by domestic violence would be accessing their other leave entitlements. This additional leave will give them the support to maintain their employment.”

The State Government also used white ribbon day today to announce it would release a discussion paper on the possibility of introducing a domestic violence disclosure scheme in SA.

Based on “Clare’s Law” in the UK, the scheme would create a formal mechanism for a person to seek information about whether their partner had been violent or abusive in the past.

The UK scheme, named after Clare Wood who was murdered by a partner with a history of violence against women, has four stages: making an application to the police, a face-to-face meeting, consideration by a “multi-agency forum” about whether or not to disclose the information, and then the potential disclosure of the person’s past history.

Premier Jay Weatherill said the level of domestic violence in Australia was unacceptable and the Government must look at everything it can do o prevent the tragedies happening weekly in Australia.

“Clearly we need to be doing more to prevent the violence that claimed the lives of Clare Wood in the UK, Luke Batty in Victoria, Zahra Abrahimzadeh in Adelaide and too many others everywhere,” he said.

The discussion paper will be released for comment next year.

The state Liberals promised to work with the Government on the proposed law.

“Domestic violence is a scourge on our society and it is critical that we take action to address this very serious issue,” said Vickie Chapman, the acting shadow minister for the status of women.

“The Liberal team will work with the Government to develop a workable model of Clare’s Law for South Australia.

“Any measure that prevents domestic violence or increases protection for domestic violence victims is worth investigation and consideration.”

The NSW Government will trial such a disclosure scheme next year.

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