Schools: Family violence

Publish date: 12/08/2020

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Family violence is a serious workplace issue facing many employees in the education sector, particularly women. Workplaces must support victim survivors of family violence, ensuring they are safe and linked to the economic security of work.

The AEU successfully secured a family violence clause in the VGSA, and associated policy supporting education employees. We work in partnership with our members, informing them of their rights and supporting them during this traumatic period.

Our experienced officers can provide:

  • Advice on family violence leave entitlements under the agreement.
  • Information about external organisations who can provide specialised support, including counselling services.
  • Advocacy on behalf of members.
  • Support to liaise with principals and the Department to support members in accessing entitlements while maintaining confidentiality.
  • Access to a female AEU officer if preferred.
  • Professional learning around the need to eradicate the gender inequality at the heart of family violence.

What is family violence?

Family violence is physical, sexual, financial, verbal or emotional abuse by a family member. It takes several forms, including threats and intimidation; psychological, emotional and social abuse; and economic deprivation. Employees affected may appear tired, distracted, jumpy, evasive or disengaged. They may hide injuries, exhaust sick leave, be unproductive or make mistakes.

Entitlements

Employees are entitled to 20 days paid family violence leave in a 12-month period, in addition to any other leave. While not cumulative, employees can request further paid leave if exhausted while continuing to experience family violence and its consequences.

Casual employees are entitled to leave without pay for family violence purposes. 

Employees may take family violence leave to attend medical, well-being and counselling appointments, and for legal proceedings and relocation activities associated with family violence.

An employee can discuss the matter with their principal/manager. If an employee chooses, they can contact their regional director or the Department’s Workplace Contact Officers or their People Services Consultant for advice. The AEU can guide and support members through this process.

Each application must be supported by suitable evidence, such as a statutory declaration. This can be issued by a police officer, court, GP, nurse, other registered health practitioner, Family Violence Support Service, or lawyer.

Education employees may also access personal/carer’s leave to help victim survivors. Principals/managers may require suitable evidence.

Employees can request access to the Employee Assistance Program, temporary or ongoing changes to hours or job roles/duties, workplace relocation, contact details changes, access to secure parking, and so forth.

Confidentiality

The privacy of victim survivors is a high priority for the AEU. As the ramifications of family violence can be overwhelming, members are encouraged to seek advice and discuss their options with us. Our professional officers are experts in dealing with these matters confidentially and sensitively, and members can speak with a woman if preferred.

Workplace support plans

Workplace support plans are used to record temporary adjustments required by the employee. Plans should be reviewed regularly to ensure the employee’s needs continue to be met. The employee must notify the employer of any changes to the support plan, especially changes that may impact upon the health and safety of the entire workplace.
It is critical emergency contact details for employees experiencing family violence are kept up to date, otherwise a perpetrator could be accidentally contacted in an emergency.

Gendered violence

Family violence is underpinned by gendered abuse and violence, and gender inequity. The AEU will continue to advocate in the workplace and broader community for gender equality. We provide advice to AEU sub-branches to assist with workplace policies for gender equity in education workplaces.

The AEU acknowledges the victim survivors of family violence, those who are managing family violence every day, and those who have lost their lives. Their courage and bravery have enabled the changes we see in the sector today and informs the evidenced-based research we use in our continuing work.

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Resources

Australian Education Union
Member Support Centre
Toll free: 1800 AEU VIC
E: [email protected]
 
Department of Education and Training
Family Violence: Information for Employees
 
Our Watch – Let’s change the story

Victorian Government

Services for those experiencing family abuse/violence

1800 RESPECT
Confidential information, counselling and support service.
Open 24 hours to support people impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence and abuse.
Freecall 1800 737 732
 
Safe Steps
Safe Steps provides telephone crisis counselling, referral, information and support, and is the central contact point for women’s refuges in Victoria.
Freecall 1800 015 188 (24 hours 7 days a week)
03 9928 9600
 
Djirra
Provides both telephone and face-to-face legal and non-legal support to Aboriginal people who are experiencing or have experienced family violence.
03 9244 3333 (Abbotsford)
Freecall 1800 105 303
03 5562 5755 (Warrnambool)
03 5153 2322 (Bairnsdale)
03 5021 3200 (Mildura)
 
QLife
A peer run counselling and referral service for people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and/or intersex (LGBTI).
Freecall 1800 184 527 (3.00pm - 12.00am every day)
 
inTouch Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence
inTouch Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence works with women and children from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds who are victim survivors of domestic violence.
03 9413 6500 (10.00am - 4.00pm Monday to Friday)
Freecall 1800 755 988

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