9 March 2016 – Letter to the Editor of the Canberra Times

The following Letter to the Editor was provided to the Canberra Times in response to an article that had incorrect information about the access to support and leave for employees affected by domestic and family violence.

The Department of Human Services is not removing the right for staff to take time off when experiencing family and domestic violence (‘Public servants lose domestic violence leave’, 9 March). It is irresponsible to suggest otherwise.

Staff will always have access to leave, flexible working arrangements and support in the workplace when facing such serious circumstances.

The proposed staff agreement contains access to flexible working arrangements, specifying situations where ‘a person is experiencing violence from a member of the employee’s family’.

This department is taking a lead role across the public service to guide a whole of government approach to providing support for staff affected by family and domestic violence.  Our Family and Domestic Violence Strategy outlines the approach to supporting both staff and customers impacted by this issue.

We have established an experienced family and domestic violence contact officer network to confidentially provide information to staff about the support available, including leave and flexible working arrangements.

Our campaign titled ‘Enough’ encourages both customers and staff impacted by domestic violence to seek help. And we’re rolling out training across our 35,000-strong workforce so all staff are better able to identify where someone – customer or colleague – may need this kind of help.

Just as our frontline staff support people experiencing family and domestic violence, we are committed to ensuring every employee can access support when they need it.

Hank Jongen
General Manager, Department of Human Services