Platform Gallery in Katoomba is one of a new wave of businesses across the country providing paid domestic violence leave to its staff. Domestic violence leave provides people experiencing domestic violence time off work to attend legal and medical appointments, relocate and make other safety arrangements.
Owner Kelly Heylen said: “I am calling on my fellow local business owners to step up and provide additional paid leave for staff who may be experiencing domestic violence. This is a widespread problem, and one that needs requires a collaborative approach at all levels by business, government and the community.
“Economic insecurity and is one of the main reasons that stops people from leaving abusive relationships. With paid leave, more people - particularly women - who are living with domestic violence, will be able to maintain their income and stability while leaving dangerous situations.”
Trish Doyle MP, Member for the Blue Mountains, said: “As I revealed in my inaugural speech to the NSW Parliament, I was a kid who grew up in a home that was riddled with domestic violence, alcohol and poverty.
“I commend Kelly Heylen for her initiative to provide her staff with 10 days paid domestic violence leave. Kelly leads by example and she understands the importance of women, who are living with or escaping domestic violence, to have some kind of financial security for themselves and their children. The only way they can escape is through the support provided by domestic violence services and good employers like Kelly.
“Kelly’s initiative makes this issue very personal. Through this practical initiative, we can see how change is possible with community support.”
Research by the Australia Institute shows that about 1.5 per cent of female employees are likely to use paid domestic violence leave in any given year, amounting to approximately 0.02 per cent increase in payroll. However, there are long-lasting benefits, including increased productivity and reduced turnover, from not only staff experiencing domestic violence but all staff, who see the positive and respectful steps their employer is taking to support staff in difficult times.
“I know from personal experience how crucial this can be for survivors of domestic violence,” said Ms Heylen. “When I was in the process of ending an abusive relationship, my then-employer was very supportive on a personal level, but I had to use paid and unpaid annual leave to attend court, meet with police, attend medical appointments and have damage in my home repaired.
“For women experiencing domestic violence who have less supportive employers, I can only imagine the fear they must feel of losing their jobs, or worse, having to stay in abusive situations, because they don’t have enough annual or sick leave to safely leave and deal with everything that comes along with that.
“The cost of paid domestic leave to employers is so small, and yet the benefits to the whole community are enormous.”