Domestic violence legislation undergoes more changes

July 10, 2019

Kathryn McKinney Special Counsel

The Domestic Violence – Victims’ Protection Act 2018, which was enacted on 1 April this year to provide support to employees affected by domestic violence, is already being altered.

Key definitions in the Victims’ Protection Act that are linked to definitions in the 1995 Domestic Violence Act will now be replaced by the Family Violence Act 2018 as of 1 July 2019.

What effects will this have?

The effect of this, in the employment context, is that references to the term ‘domestic violence’ will be replaced with the term ‘family violence’ which broadens the application of the Act. Employers need to be aware that there are five types of abuse which now constitute family violence, which employees are entitled to be supported from. Family violence now includes physical abuse, psychological/emotional abuse, sexual abuse, financial/economic abuse and dowry-related abuse.

The definition of ‘child’ will also be altered from ‘a person under the age of 17 years’ to ‘a person under the age of 18 years’. Finally, the exclusion of a person under that age, who are or have been married or in a civil union or de facto relationship, will be removed so that the Act will apply to a wider variety of domestic contexts.

What actions do employers need to take?

Many employers have been proactive and introduced Domestic Violence Leave policies. These workplace policies are likely to now to require amendment to reflect these changes, or a wider understanding from employers surrounding what constitutes violence.

You can contact our employment team to discuss any employment related matters.

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