This week is Parliament’s last sitting week of the year and it will be great to be able to spend more time in the electorate. It’s a busy time for politicians with plenty of school presentations and Christmas functions commitments added to our normal duties and responsibilities but a great, festive time.

I thank and congratulate all those who are or have been involved in the development and success of our Wine Country concert season.  Any trip to Cessnock’s CBD on a concert weekend leaves one in no doubt the positive impact on the local economy and our image as a destination has been enormous.  Not to mention the capacity it has provided we locals to enjoy the talents of some of the world’s best!

Last Wednesday was White Ribbon Day a National Day to Stop Men’s Violence against Women and their children.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, one in six Australian women have experienced physical or sexual violence from a current or former partner – that unfortunately happens here in the Hunter electorate just as it does around the country.

On this day Labor also announced that, if elected, we will make domestic and family violence leave a universal workplace right. Every worker in Australia will be able to access five days domestic and family violence leave.

We have heard from organisations that the complexity of family and domestic violence requires a strategic approach by all levels of government, business, and the community.

We have been told that the trauma of domestic and family violence is compounded by workplace and financial uncertainty.

We believe domestic and family violence leave will benefit both those who have experienced violence as well as business through improved productivity, increased employee retention and reduced absenteeism.

Most importantly though Labor is firmly of the view that by providing for this separate category of leave we are legitimising an approach that will reduce the stigma that has often accompanied domestic violence. Domestic and family violence leave has the potential to change workplace culture by allowing conversations in the workplace that will allow us to eradicate domestic and violence in the home.

I’d like to acknowledge the many employers that already providing domestic and family violence leave, and the significant contribution organisations and Australia’s unions have made in advocating for paid domestic and family violence leave.

Consistent with Labor’s longstanding, cooperative approach to workplace relations, we will work with business, unions and other stakeholders to discuss the specific implementation arrangements for Labor’s plan.

For a copy of Labor’s policy please visit: http://www.alp.org.au/domesticviolenceleave

Just a reminder, Certificates of Appreciation are available under the Australian Government’s Saluting Their Service Commemorations Program. They are a way of expressing the nation’s gratitude to those who served in the defence forces or on the home front in the Second World War or in wars, conflicts and peace operations overseas since the Second World War.
Application forms are available from my office or can be downloaded from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs website at http://www.dva.gov.au/dvaforms  (click on Topics and select Certificate of Appreciation forms).

Time is running out to apply for a 2015 Volunteer Grant.

Grants between $1,000 and $5,000 are available to help not for profit community organisations support their volunteers through practical measures such as the purchase of small equipment items, reimbursement for volunteers’ fuel and transport costs, and contributions towards the cost of training and background screening checks. The grants provide a valuable opportunity for local organisations to support their volunteers.

The Volunteer Grants 2015 Application Pack is available from the Department of Social Services’ website at www.dss.gov.au/grants. Alternatively, you can contact the Volunteer Grants 2015 Hotline on freecall 1800 183 374 or email vg2015@dss.gov.au.

Applications for Volunteer Grants 2015 close at 2pm AEDT on Wednesday, 9 December 2015. I am always keen to assist with issues or questions relating to Federal Government departments or put you in contact with someone who can, so please ring, write, visit the website or call in.

I am always keen to assist with issues or questions relating to Federal Government departments or put you in contact with someone who can, so please ring, write, visit the website or call in.

Why not go the extra step by following me on my Facebook page “Joel Fitzgibbon” or on Twitter and type in the search bar “fitzhunter”. Or by regularly checking my website at www.joelfitzgibbon.com or you can even sign up to my E-Newsletter.

To contact the office, phone 1300 301 753, visit www.joelfitzgibbon.com or by post 3 Edward Street, (PO Box 526) Cessnock, 2325.

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