The Australian Union movement has played a leading role in the global campaign to prevent violence and harassment against women at work and at home, including making a minimum of 10 days paid family and domestic violence leave per year accessible for every Australian worker.
The right to be free from violence and harassment is a workplace right, a human right, and a health and safety right. Decent work is absolutely central to the economic security and health and safety of women, and measures to address gender inequity at work play a crucial part in the prevention of violence against women.
The evidence and research showing the prevalence and seriousness of violence against women across the Australian community is overwhelming and incontrovertible. Violence affects women from all walks of life: 1 in 3 Australian women (34.2%) has experienced physical and/or sexual violence; and 1 in 4 Australian women (23.0%) has experienced physical or sexual violence by current or former intimate partner since age 15. People with disabilities, LGBTIQ and culturally diverse communities face particular challenges. In 2014–15, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women were 32 times as likely to be hospitalised due to family violence assaults as non-Indigenous women. Intimate partner violence is the third greatest health risk factor for women aged 25-44 and a leading driver of homelessness for women. Violence and harassment against women remains prevalent and grossly under-reported in Australian workplaces, with workers in insecure employment particularly at risk.
The 12-year National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010‐2022 (the National Plan) was endorsed by the Council of Australian Governments in February 2011. It has been implemented through four separate three‐year plans, each focusing on five or six priority areas: First Action Plan: Building Strong Foundations (2010 to 2013); Second Action Plan: Moving Ahead (2013 – 2016); Third Action Plan – Promising Results (2016–2019); Fourth Action Plan – Turning the Corner (2019-2022). The three-year Plans acknowledge the role of employers and workplaces in supporting women and preventing violence to varying degrees. The First Plan in particular recognised that employers and workplaces have a key role to play in the advancement of gender equality and the prevention of violence against women (pp 14, 16) and the Third Plan reiterated the need to embed gender equality in workplace culture and increase women’s workforce participation and economic security (p 10).