The Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia urges the government to consider all micro and small businesses’ needs as it introduces ten days of paid family and domestic violence into the National Employment Standards. This includes circumstances where small business people employ someone who is a victim of domestic violence as well as circumstances where the small business owner themselves is the victim.
COSBOA CEO Alexi Boyd said “We agree that domestic violence is a severe and pervasive social problem, and we welcome the government’s leadership on this important issue.
COSBOA’s ideal outcome is that FDV leave be funded and administered by government for employees of small businesses."
Ms Boyd explained that it wasn’t just about funding.
“It’s not realistic to expect small business owners to become experts in handling trauma. While many small businesses have treated these situations with compassion and generosity when they have arisen, we believe victims of domestic violence would be better looked after if this were a program delivered by government.
“Big businesses and governments are able to provide staff with specialist training in managing these serious and sensitive situations, but some small business owners may struggle to know how to respond appropriately and lack the time needed to obtain the necessary knowledge and skills, at the very time the victim needs the right advice and support.”
COSBOA also has concerns that sole traders and micro business owners have not be considered.
Ms Boyd said “There are over 700,000 sole proprietors in Australia. If they themselves are a victim of domestic violence, under the current Bill before Parliament they have been forgotten. We need to fix that.”
ABS data shows a steady upwards trend in the proportion of female business owners/managers over the last 20 years, with women now representing 35.4% of all business owner/managers.1
“This is a crucial consideration for government; how do we support women who are sole traders or managing a small business? How do they access support? Particularly in sensitive situations where an abuser may have control or access to the business,” Ms Boyd said.
"COSBOA will continue to work with the government on this matter and has been pleased with opportunities to provide small business perspectives.”
1 The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman 2020, "Small Business Counts 2020," Commonwealth of Australia, https://www.asbfeo.gov.au/sites/default/files/2021-11/ASBFEO%20Small%20Business%20Counts%20Dec%202020%20v2_0.pdf., p. 19.