Unions call for domestic violence leave

Paid leave for victims of domestic violence could be a matter of life and death, a support worker and union officials say.

Calling on the federal government to legislate for 10 days of paid leave, the ACTU Women's Committee Chair, Julia Fox said the measure was vital to help those trapped in abusive relationships to leave.

Her comments came on Tuesday as about 80 delegates, including state and federal ministers, gathered in Adelaide for a two-day summit looking at practical ways to stop violence against women and children.

"No one should be forced to choose between their income and their safety, or the safety of their family," ACTU Women's Committee Chair Julia Fox said.

"We have to change the rules for working women and provide 10 days paid domestic violence leave."

Domestic violence support worker Lesley Donnelly said paid leave would provide women with the financial security necessary to escape.

She said some women who sought help had escaped with little more than the clothes on their backs but knowing that they could access paid leave would provide them with important assistance.

"If they don't have that quite often they choose to stay and that can end up in death," Ms Donnelly told reporters.

The government has proposed five days' leave but with no pay which the ACTU said was simply inadequate.

The unions released a breakdown on the cost of leaving an abusive relationship, which they said could easily run to more than $18,000.

That included up to $5000 to set up a new house, money for rent and a bond and fees for counselling and solicitors.

The Adelaide summit was also expected to hear of the need for a second national plan to combat domestic assaults with frontline services already stretched.

"I don't think we've turned the corner yet," chair of the Women's Services Network Julie Oberin told ABC radio.

"We cautioned that the front line services needed to be strengthened at the same time as the prevention work."

Ms Oberin said a lack of co-ordination between federal, state and territory governments was stifling the effectiveness of the current national action plan.

"There's no overall accountability back to society about what COAG's committed to and what they're delivering," she said.

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Australian Associated Press