Batty backs domestic violence leave

Domestic violence campaigner Rosie Batty has joined the union push for paid leave, saying it would have helped in her year from hell.

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The 2015 Australian of the Year told a women’s lunch at the ACTU Congress on Tuesday, it’s time to bring the issue of family violence into the nation’s boardrooms and cafeterias.

The ACTU has lodged a claim as part of the modern award review for 10 days paid domestic violence leave.

Ms Batty said she spent countless days in court and making statements to police in the year before her son Luke was killed at the hands of his father.

“It was like my second job,” she told the gathering, arguing paid leave would have made a big difference.

Later Ms Batty told reporters she thought it would be far more expensive to have to sack a worker, rather than supporting them through a difficult time.

She acknowledged some people might be reluctant to have a conversation with their boss.

“It’s very important that it’s handed sensitively and confidentially,” she said.

ACTU president Ged Kearney said the last thing women, who are now using up their annual leave, need is to lose their job as they are deal with the trauma of violence.

She urged businesses to see it as an “investment” into their employees.

More than 1.6 million workers have access to paid family violence leave through existing union negotiated workplace agreements.

Ms Batty urged federal politicians to come out of their “ivory tower” and see first hand what she dubbed “domestic terrorism”.

The domestic violence campaigner welcomed a $30 million national awareness campaign, but said it was in conflict with the federal government’s cuts to legal aid.

“We can’t raise awareness … without supporting and investing in the services which are currently already undervalued,” Ms Batty told reporters later on the sidelines of the Congress.

She said women would not come forward while there was inadequate help for them.

Federal politicians would learn a lot from visiting frontline services instead of looking at “spreadsheets and juggling figures”.

“I think they would make potentially a lot of different decisions if they got out from their ivory tower,” she said.

Ms Batty plans to launch a major campaign in June inviting people who want to make a difference to join her in an advocacy group.

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