The move by the federal government to scrap its controversial plan to allow domestic violence survivors to access their superannuation hopefully consigns a disrespectful and offensive proposal to the bin.
IEU-QNT Branch Secretary Terry Burke said after a two-year campaign to establish the policy, the federal government’s sudden change of heart appeared to simply be a calculated move to prevent further controversy amidst a myriad of crises related to its treatment of women.
“While it may be off the table now, this policy was offensive in the extreme – and one which the federal government actively sought to put in place for over two years,” Mr Burke said.
“At its heart, the policy was about further undermining industry super under the guise of ‘caring’ about those living with domestic violence.
“It was a policy that put the burden on domestic violence survivors to fund their own escape from violence by withdrawing critical funds meant for their retirement.
“Shamefully such a policy could have been used by the very perpetrators of domestic violence the funds were being withdrawn to ‘escape’ from.
“Coercive control is a key issue in such situations, and this policy could easily have been manipulated by domestic violence perpetrators as a further means of controlling their partners,” he said.
Mr Burke said the federal government could have instead adopted the community’s call to increase paid domestic violence leave from the current five (5) to ten (10) days – something it has failed to listen to and act upon.
“Instead, it put forward a policy which is not only incompetent but one which is simply ugly and that should act as a reminder to all Australians that the current federal government is no friend of women,” Mr Burke said.
Failures for women: a long list
Mr Burke said the failures of the current federal government when it came to protecting and ensuring a better future for Australian women were many.
“The list is long and most recently we have its failed attack on working rights through its IR Omnibus Bill,” he said.
“Even though some of the worst aspects of the Bill were defeated thanks to union action, it still puts casual workers at risk and does nothing to address wage theft – two major issues for women workers.
“The government’s failure to listen to the voices of women and their allies in the community in the last few weeks on the issues of gendered violence and sexual harassment reflects an indifference to these very real issues.
“Scott Morrison has shown a lack of leadership on these issues and his ongoing public comments, including those in Parliament House on the day of the #March4Justice rallies, will not be forgotten.
“Such commentary only serves to embolden the perpetrators of gendered violence in this country and leave its survivors asking “when will it end – when will the leader of this nation stand up for us?”
“At the same time, the federal government has done nothing in regard to the 55 recommendations from the Sex Discrimination Commissioner’s 2020 national report on sexual harassment in workplaces.
Our union an avenue for change
Mr Burke said with the void in the current lack of leadership by the federal government on these matters, members could be assured our union would continue to advocate and work to create the change needed.
“Every person deserves to feel safe at work, safe in the community and safe at home.
“Through our training, campaigning and advocacy, we will do what it takes to make that a reality and to ensure future generations can live free from violence and harassment,” Mr Burke said.