15.91 In Time for Action: The National Council’s Plan for Australia to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children, 2009–2021,the National Council to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children (the National Council) highlighted that ‘data relating to violence against women and their children in Australia is poor’. The National Council noted that the way in which information is reported is ‘generally inconsistent and does not allow for a comprehensive understanding of family violence’.
15.92 Similarly, there is a lack of Australian data about the intersections between family violence and employment. This lack of meaningful data collection and analysis has been identified by stakeholders, commentators and governments who have emphasised the importance of accurate and comprehensive data in informing policy initiatives in this area.
15.93 A commitment to quality data collection and evaluation is crucial to ensuring systemic change and improvement—and is an important element in an effective and ongoing national response to family violence as a workplace issue. Comprehensive, up to date and accurate data helps to underpin evidence-based policy and legal responses to family violence, and inform quality education and training programs.
15.94 In Part E, the ALRC makes a range of recommendations, in light of which there is a need to ensure data collection mechanisms allow meaningful analysis to support policy change and to assess its impact. In particular, data could be collected, in relation to:
- workplace family violence policies;
- family violence-related inclusions in individual flexibility arrangements;
- family violence-related inclusions and clauses in enterprise agreements—including the taking of leave;
- family violence clauses or provisions in modern awards; and
- ‘business implications and costs’ associated with each of the above.
15.95 There are a range of existing data collection mechanisms and processes that may be utilised to collect such data, some of which are outlined below. However, the ALRC is of the view that several of the existing mechanisms could be used for other purposes and there are a number of additional data collection sites and mechanisms that may assist in building an evidence base in this area.
Fair Work Australia
15.96 Two key sections of the Fair Work Act are relevant to the scope of FWA research—ss 590 and 653.
15.97 Section 590 provides that FWA may inform itself in relation to any matter before it in such a manner as it considers appropriate, including by conducting inquiries or undertaking or commissioning research. Where family violence is relevant to a particular matter before FWA, the ALRC considers this provision is sufficiently broad to allow FWA to inform itself appropriately.
15.98 A question arises in relation to the other provision—s 653 of the Fair Work Act—as to whether an amendment is required to the Act in order to facilitate the conduct of reviews and research into family violence as an emerging development in the making of enterprise agreements, and its effect more broadly in the employment law system.
15.99 Under s 653, the General Manager of FWA is required to review developments in making enterprise agreements and conduct research about, amongst other things, individual flexibility arrangements and requests for flexible working arrangements under the NES. In doing so, the General Manager must consider the effect of these on certain groups including, for example, women and part-time employees. Section 653 also requires the General Manager of FWA to give the Minister a written report of the review and research as soon as practicable, and in any event, within six months after the end of the period to which it relates. 
15.100 Some stakeholders expressed the view that, as there are no associated reporting requirements, FWA may have limited information available to it in order to inform such research.
15.101 In its submission, DEEWR indicated that whether family violence could be considered in the review and research of the effect these arrangements have on the employment of women is a ‘matter for FWA’. In consultations, FWA noted the resource implications of expanding current research under s 653.
15.102 The ALRC considers that s 653 is a broad provision and that, in order to ensure the General Manager has continued discretion to conduct research and review of a wide range of employment developments, rather than being limited by being overly prescriptive, ‘it would not be appropriate to create or add specific consideration of this issue’. As a result, amendment to the Fair Work Act is unnecessary. Instead, the ALRC recommends that the General Manager of FWA should, in conducting the review and research required under s 653 in relation to enterprise agreements and individual flexibility arrangements, consider family violence-related developments and the effect on the employment of those experiencing family violence.
15.103 As discussed in Chapter 16, there are now a range of family violence clauses included in enterprise agreements around Australia. However, there is no central, publicly-available source of data about the inclusion of such clauses.
15.104 DEEWR maintains the Workplace Agreements Database (WAD) which contains information on federal enterprise agreements that have been lodged with, or approved by, FWA. The WAD includes information on agreement details such as the sector and industry of the enterprise agreement, duration and employee coverage as well as data on wage increases and employment conditions in each agreement.
15.105 In response to the ALRC’s suggestion that DEEWR collect data about the inclusion of family violence clauses in enterprise agreements as part of the WAD, DEEWR has advised that ‘it is possible, and it is willing to collect data on the incidence of references to domestic violence in enterprise agreements’, including specific family violence clauses as well as broader reference to family violence in the agreement. DEEWR suggests that ‘it would be possible to commence collection of the data for the June quarter 2011 onwards’ and this data would be available on request. As a result, the ALRC recommends that DEEWR should collect data on the incidence of family violence-related clauses and references in enterprise agreements and include it as part of the WAD.
The ADFVC and other bodies
15.106 In addition to data collection by DEEWR and FWA, the ADFVC submitted that there is a need for ‘independent research, monitoring and evaluation of the incidence of domestic/family violence in the workplace on a national basis’.
15.107 In 2011, the Social Policy Research Centre at UNSW developed a framework for the ADFVC to monitor and evaluate the outcomes of the introduction of family violence clauses in enterprise agreements. The framework acknowledges that there is no one data set available to monitor the inclusion of family violence clauses in enterprise agreements or the effectiveness of complementary measures. As a result, it recommends a mixed method approach to data collection including:
- use of data already routinely collected—such as the Australian Bureau of Statistics Survey of Employment Arrangements, Retirement and Superannuation;
- modification and expansion of existing instruments used for routine data collection; and
- collection and analysis of project-specific data on implementation and impact— such as workplace and union surveys.
15.108 This framework outlines useful and appropriate mechanisms through which to collect and make available data in relation to the inclusion of family violence clauses in enterprise agreements. The ALRC considers the ADFVC would be well placed to facilitate the collection of such data using this method and to consider additional data collection methods with respect to the inclusion of other workplace rights and entitlements as well as their broader impact, particularly in the context of the national education and awareness campaign.
15.109 In addition, the ALRC understands that part of the White Ribbon Workplace Program is to develop an evaluation program to assess progress by individual businesses and industry organisations, specific sub-programs and the national partnerships program. This program may provide another useful model for data collection.
15.110 There is also a need for research and economic modelling to inform reviews such as the one of the NES as part of Phase 5, to assist in the determination of an appropriate quantum of any family violence leave under the NES. Stakeholders like the National Network of Working Women’s Centres have suggested that ‘a meta analysis of available research should be conducted to discover average or median periods of the duration of the most significant impacts of domestic violence’. Data collected in relation to the utilisation of leave under family violence clauses in enterprise agreements may also assist in this regard.
15.111 The ALRC suggests that the Productivity Commission may play a constructive role in examining the impact of possible reforms on businesses and undertaking economic modelling, for example by analysing data collected by FWA, DEEWR, the ADFVC and other bodies, in order to inform the recommended review of the NES.
Recommendation 15–3 The General Manager of Fair Work Australia, in conducting the review and research required under s 653 of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), should consider family violence-related developments and the effect of family violence on the employment of those experiencing it, in relation to:
- enterprise agreements; and
- individual flexibility arrangements.
Recommendation 15–4 The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations maintains the Workplace Agreements Database which contains information on federal enterprise agreements that have been lodged with, or approved by, Fair Work Australia. The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations should collect data on the incidence of family violence-related clauses and references in enterprise agreements and include it as part of the Workplace Agreements Database.
Recommendation 15–5 The Australian Government should support research, monitoring and evaluation of family violence-related developments in the employment law sphere, for example by bodies such as the Australian Domestic and Family Violence Clearinghouse.
 National Council to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children, Time for Action: The National Council’s Plan for Australia to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children, 2009–2021 (2009), 49.
 Ibid, 47.
 Business SA, Submission CFV 98.
Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) ss 590, 653.
 The Minister must table a copy of the report in Parliament within 15 sitting days: Ibid s 653(3), (4).
 See, eg, ASU (Victorian and Tasmanian Authorities and Services Branch), Submission CFV 113; ACTU, Submission CFV 100.
 DEEWR, Submission CFV 130.
 Fair Work Australia, Consultation, By telephone, 30 September 2011.
 ACCI, Submission CFV 128.
 The ALRC understands that the WAD is reviewed annually with the aim of improving the ‘efficiency and relevance of data collection’: Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, Correspondence, 27 June 2011.
 DEEWR, Submission CFV 130.
 ADFVC, Submission CFV 124.
 Social Policy Research Centre, Framework to Monitor and Evaluate the Outcomes of the Introduction of Domestic Violence Clauses (2011).
 White Ribbon, Consultation, Sydney, 28 September 2011.
 National Network of Working Women’s Centres, Submission CFV 20.