Logie: Domestic violence – Victims’ Protection bill

Jan Logie’s Domestic Violence—Victims’ Protection Bill

This bill amends the Domestic Violence Act 1995, Employment Relations Act 2000, Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, Holidays Act 2003, and Human Rights Act 1993 with a view to enhancing legal protections for victims of domestic violence.

It was introduced and passed it’s first reading yesterday with all MPs voting for in favour. It will now go to Select Committee for consideration.

Read the Bill here.

Logie introducing the bill:

Transcript:


DOMESTIC VIOLENCE—VICTIMS’ PROTECTION BILL

First Reading

JAN LOGIE (Green): I move, That the Domestic Violence—Victims’ Protection Bill be now read a first time. I nominate the Justice and Electoral Committee to consider the bill. My speech today is for every victim of domestic violence who ever felt trapped and for every person who knew a workmate was being abused but did not know how to help.

It is no secret I used to work at Women’s Refuge, but the resilience and the strength of the women I worked with has always stayed with me.

I remember one woman in particular who left with her children when the violence escalated. She had been living under siege for years but he said he would kill her if she left. It was incredibly brave of her to leave, and she was not sure it was the right thing to do. He had racked up debt in her name and she was struggling to imagine how she would pay rent, childcare, and everything else as well as pay off that debt.

She was also understandably scared that he would kill her or her children. She needed her job to pay off the debt and look after her kids. She was a sitting duck at work. I called her boss and explained the situation and tried to organise time off for her, a change of shift, or a different work site for a while. They said “No.” I remember that night driving her up to the door of her work and she was lying down in the back of the van as I drove up to the door. Her fear was palpable, and I suspect mine was as well. She went back to him the next day and I do not know how things worked out. This situation will be different in some workplaces today but not all. People ask “Why do women go back?”, this is why. Victims of domestic violence are in the most danger when they leave. I absolutely understood her decision to go back, and I still feel the frustration and powerlessness of not having been able to help her.

Most victims, however, find it really hard to stay in work. The impact of the abuse has a profound impact, and often they struggle to concentrate at work, their partners actively try to make them quit, or get them sacked by using all the petrol when they need to go to work or disappearing instead of taking the kids to school etc. Without a job victims become more isolated and dependent.

Domestic violence reaches into workplaces all over our country. Evidence shows stalking, constant emails, phone calls, and attacks in or outside the workplace happen. Recent research funded by the Women’s Refuge, of New Zealand women who had been in a violent relationship showed 60 percent were in fulltime work before the relationship but that fewer than half of those women managed to stay in work through the relationship.

At any one time in this country over half of New Zealand businesses could have a staff member experiencing domestic violence. Workmates are often the only people who know, but we cannot expect them to automatically know what to do.

This bill is about saving lives. It provides victims with a pathway to safety and protects them from the effects of the abuse in the workplace by providing up 10 days’ leave every year, which can be used to cover time lost through injury or other impacts of the abuse.

It can also be used for counselling, moving house, settling kids into a new school, dealing with the Family Court, or safety planning.

It also clarifies that victims can request flexible working arrangements to minimise the impact of the abuse outside or in the workplace, and that domestic violence is a workplace hazard that employers should create the environment to be able to identify and mitigate. F

inally, it adds being a victim of domestic violence as grounds for non-discrimination to the Human Rights Act so victims cannot be sacked or otherwise penalised for the behaviour of their abuser.

International research has found that although CEOs think domestic violence is a major problem they underestimate its impact in their companies. I suspect the same is true here. The argument that these policies will cost businesses too much is amoral. It assumes the domestic violence is not already costing businesses, well it is. It is costing them great staff and it is reducing productivity. Economist Suzanne Snively’s research shows that the provisions in this bill, if we get them right, will provide a net benefit to businesses in terms of increased productivity as well as, I hope, knowing that they are doing the right thing.

Last year former Prime Minister John Key said “It’s easy to think this [family violence] is someone else’s problem. But it’s not [someone else’s problem]… if you are a New Zealander who cares,” and in this case I agree with him. This bill helps workplaces and employers show they care and make sure every victim of domestic violence gets the support they need. If someone is in danger and we can help we should. That is the right thing to do. Everyone deserves a safe workplace where they can get the support they need to leave a violent relationship. Being protected at work and getting the help to leave should not come down to luck. We need a standard across all of our workplaces.

Last year after hearing thousands of submissions the Victorian Government Royal Commission into family violence found that having a supportive workplace provides financial security to victims at a major time of need and that work colleagues are among the most common source of support for victims. They recommended national employment standards and specific leave provisions, pretty much what this bill intends to do.

I bring this bill to the House in the context of social change. This bill did not just appear out of the brilliance of my own mind. Progress is being made internationally and here at home.

I really want to acknowledge the New Zealand Public Service Association Inc. (PSA) who started championing and providing an evidence base for these policies way back in 2011, and all the other unions including FIRST Union, E tū, New Zealand Post Primary Teachers’ Association (PPTA), and New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) that have been putting these policies on the table at bargaining for a long time now.

It has been wonderful to see Countdown, The Warehouse, GCSB, GNS Science, ANZ, and many other smaller businesses and agencies responding and putting these provisions in place.

The chambers of commerce and Business New Zealand publicly supporting this discussion, I think, is a milestone for this country.

Of course I want to acknowledge Shine and Women’s Refuge who have been working with businesses for years to develop supportive policies as well as research to support this work. National Council of Women of New Zealand, Zonta International, and the New Zealand Federation of Business and Professional Women have all been championing this cause for a few years now too.

Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Dr Jackie Blue has set up business work network using her power to promote these policies. That is the context of this bill. All of these groups and people get that we are in this together, that domestic violence is something that we all have a stake in reducing.

For me, politics becomes inspiring when we work in partnership with the communities to solve problems and create social change. For me, that is the Green way of doing politics. But I really want to acknowledge with gratitude and appreciation all of my parliamentary colleagues who are supporting this bill tonight.

My faith in humankind has really taken a leap. I think it is a testament to the importance of the issue, but it is also a signal to survivors who are watching this that we care, and we should. Today we are starting a process that, if we get it right, will save lives and support victims, so that going back or quitting their job is never again the better option.

Today is International Women’s Day, and although this bill will apply equally to victims of domestic violence, regardless of gender, the majority of victims are women and children, so it seems a very appropriate day to be having this debate.

I hope everyone listening will go away thinking that in Parliament we are prepared to listen, engage, and get this right. Let us be bold together.

 

 

5 Comments

  1. Corky

     /  March 9, 2017

    [Deleted. That is against the spirit of non-partisan support for this Bill, and a real desire of MPs from all parties to try to make a real difference in the battle against domestic violence. Taking a swipe by dredging up something from 2014 is not appropriate here. PG]

    • Corky

       /  March 9, 2017

      Sorry you see it that way, Pete. I see it as a true indication of her character. True people working in this field don’t post like that…hence hypocrisy in my book. Notice the disingenuous excuse used to keep that post up? Surely she should have deleted it and apologised,then moved on. That I could accept.

      • Jan Logie’s work on getting this Bill to this stage has been applauded by MPs from across the House. It has been genuinely and passionately supported, and voted for by all MPs/parties. Can you accept that?

      • I haven’t been a fan of Logie in the past and I think I was critical of what you refer to from 2014 but I’m happy to give credit where I think it’s due here.

        The first reading of Logie’s bill yesterday was a rare, raw and emotional event in Parliament.

        Try putting past prejudices aside and watching her speech, watching Amy Adams’ speech, and the other speeches in support.