Family Law Court and Family Violence Leave.
There are now approximately one million Australian workers who have access to leave if they become the victim of family violence, or are caring for a victim. It is overwhelmingly the case that victims of family violence are women, and that violence by close family members remains under-discussed, often leaving its victims disempowered and ashamed, in addition to all the other harms suffered.
Public discussion of workplace leave, and of the increased reporting to police of family violence signals increasing awareness and understanding of the prevalence and harm caused by it. The Family Law Act now places greater obligations on family lawyers to be aware of family violence, and to ensure that it is made known to the Court in proceedings. There are many mens groups, and individuals counselling men, who are working constructively in behavioural change, awareness-raising, and the message that violence is never OK.
Institutional action is also important in giving voice to the problem of family violence, and to victims whose plight has been known of forever. It is past the time that our society recognises, rejects and de-stigmatises family violence. Employers are to be congratulated on publicising family violence leave, and to recognise the sensitivity required to enable women to access the entitlement.
by Marguerite Picard Divorce Lawyer and accredited family specialist