Starting on Friday 25 November 2022, which is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women until 10 December, World Human Rights Day, is the 16 Days of Activism campaign.

The 16 Days of Activism campaign is a call for action against the ongoing violence against women.

During the 16 Days of Activism, people around the world unite to raise awareness about gender-based violence, challenge discriminatory attitudes and call for improved laws and services to end violence against women for good.

This is very much something the Union strongly supports because we know our members experience gendered violence in the workplace.

It’s why the Union strongly got behind and supported the work and efforts to see domestic and family violence leave included in our agreements, and importantly, included in the National Employment Standards.

Unfortunately, violence against women remains a very real matter.

This year, the 16 Days of Activism campaign is focussed on ending femicide, the gender-related killing of women.

Too often, violence against women is accepted as normal behaviour with a culture of discrimination against women which allows violence to occur with impunity. We’ve seen how the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements have propelled this issue onto the global stage.

To end violence against women, we need to challenge the attitudes that perpetuate, rationalise and normalise that violence, and deny women’s right to safety.

Men are overwhelmingly the perpetrators of gender-based violence, and to see violence truly eliminated, the attitudes of men need to change. Shifting these behaviours is hard and slow, but gender equality means all of us working together to see true change.

It is pleasing to see the Respect@Work Bill from the Albanese Labor government pass the Parliament this week. The Bill speaks to the very issue of gendered violence against women at work.

The legislation imposes a positive duty on employers to take action to eliminate sex discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation under its Respect@Work legislation. It is a powerful piece of legislation as it requires employers to actively identify potential for gendered violence and compels them to take action to eliminate it.

The legislation expressly prohibits conduct which results in hostile workplace environment on the basis of gender.

We can all remember the women’s rally at Parliament House in Canberra when thousands of women rallied together and marched for justice, loudly telling Australia and the world that enough is enough.

However, we know there is much more work to be done to eliminate violence against women. The legislation itself won’t stop gendered violence in our workplaces but it is a massive positive step forward.

That’s why we must continue calling on all levels of government, organisations and people everywhere to speak out against violence.

As part of 16 Days of Activism we encourage members to go to the end of year Feminism at the Hall discussion – End the Silence, Let us Speak – at Victorian Trades Hall on Wednesday 7 December at 6pm.

The event will go over the misuse of non-disclosure agreements and how they perpetuate a culture of silence where victims are not empowered to speak out and unsafe systems of work are allowed to continue.

Members can find out more about the event or register here.

Violence against women is preventable; please tell your families, friends and colleagues about the 16 Days of Activism and to speak out against violence.

We’re also happy to report to members that the Albanese Labor Government’s new industrial relations legislation has passed the Parliament with the support of the Greens and ACT’s independent Senator.

The new legislation contains opportunities for the Union, however along with the rest of Australia, we’re uncertain about how the laws will work in practice. There are many new provisions around multi-employer bargaining which may create some positive changes for members working in the private sector as we seek to engage in enterprise bargaining.

Among other things, the new laws enable the right to flexible working arrangements.

Under the new laws, employers will be prevented from unreasonably refusing requests for flexible working arrangements in order to help employees better balance caring duties and work.

However, we are not entirely certain about the operation of the new laws and whether we can use them to put upward pressure on wages as suggested by the Federal Government.

We will be attending meetings with the broader union movement to discuss the new laws and how they may operate.

One thing is certain though, we will make sure we take every advantage of the new laws as much as possible.

Finally, we’re pleased to see the re-election of a progressive government in Victoria that will continue to prioritise Victorians health care.

I want to assure members that with the re-election of the Andrews Labor Government in Victoria, we will continue to vigorously pursue our agenda to see increases in staff covering our disciplines.

We will continue to press the returned Andrews Labor government on returning hospital pathology to the public sector sooner and pursue massive investments to increase staff numbers across all our disciplines to address the unacceptable workloads members deal with.

We will continue to make our voice heard loud and clear on key issues affecting members.

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