Empowering Victims of Family Violence: Could Anti-Discrimination Laws Play a Role by Changing Workplace Attitudes and Practices?

Australian Review of Public Affairs, March 2012

Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 12/32

8 Pages Posted: 24 Apr 2012

See all articles by Tashina Orchiston

Tashina Orchiston

The University of Sydney Law School

Belinda Smith

The University of Sydney Law School; University of California, Berkeley - Berkeley Center on Comparative Equality & Anti-Discrimination Law

Date Written: April, 23 2012

Abstract

The current review of Australia’s federal discrimination laws presents an opportunity to address a lacuna in existing protections with respect to victims of family violence. Paid work is recognised as a key structural support for victims to leave violent relationships. However, victims are typically reluctant to disclose they are experiencing family violence to employers and colleagues, even when it is impacting on their performance, productivity or safety, or they need workplace flexibility in order to navigate the criminal justice system or access support services. Experience of violence has a profoundly negative effect on labour market participation: victims are more likely to have disrupted work histories, have changed jobs more frequently, and be employed in casual and part-time work than workers with no experience of violence. The normative capacity of anti-discrimination law to discourage negative assumptions and stereotyping may provide the missing link in Australia’s national regulatory response to family violence. The authors argue that specific discrimination protection would empower workers who experience family violence to seek support when necessary, and in turn, maintain their jobs and economic independence.

Keywords: discrimination, domestic violence, family violence, employment, Australia

JEL Classification: K10, K14, K30, K31

Suggested Citation

Orchiston, Tashina and Smith, Belinda M., Empowering Victims of Family Violence: Could Anti-Discrimination Laws Play a Role by Changing Workplace Attitudes and Practices? (April, 23 2012). Australian Review of Public Affairs, March 2012, Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 12/32, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2045244

Tashina Orchiston

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia

Belinda M. Smith (Contact Author)

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia

University of California, Berkeley - Berkeley Center on Comparative Equality & Anti-Discrimination Law

Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States

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