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Union seeks member input for submission to national inquiry

December 08, 2018

Sexual harassment and gendered violence is under-reported, especially in schools. Everyone should be able to go to work in a safe environment, free of harassment and violence, and to achieve this we need to expose what is happening in workplaces so our lawmakers get the full picture.

Delegates at Federation’s December Council meeting voted to “change the rules on gendered violence”.

Federation will make a submission to the Australian Human Rights Commission National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces. The submission will seek changes regarding the work of agencies such as Fair Work, the NSW Industrial Commission, the Australian Human Rights Commission, NSW Anti-Discrimination Board and the relevant legislative framework.

This will include more qualified personnel, training, codes of practice as well as the power and resources to require companies, government departments and agencies to report on the measures they adopt to prevent, respond to and monitor sexual/gender-based harassment in the workplace.

The AHRC conducted a survey earlier this year that found 85 per cent of women and 57 per cent of men reported they had been sexually harassed at some point in their lives.

They also found that 23 per cent of women and 16 per cent of men reported they were sexually harassed in the past 12 months and only 17 per cent of those who reported they had been sexually harassed had made a formal complaint.

These findings show the current rules aimed at preventing and addressing sexual harassment in the workplace are clearly broken.

The Australian Education Union (AEU) federal office has developed a member survey to assist us to make a comprehensive submission to the inquiry. This survey is for principals, teachers and support staff who have experienced or witnessed sexual harassment in their workplace.

The AEU nationwide Sexual Harassment Survey is open until 15 December.

The survey can be accessed here.

Federation will utilise the findings of the Australian Human Rights Commission National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces to pursue the need for public education employers to provide more effective guidance and support in relation to identifying, preventing and effectively responding to sexual and/or gender-based harassment in relation to staff and students in schools, TAFE and other education workplaces.

— Leeanda Smith, Women’s Coordinator

A key component of the ACTU Change the Rules campaign is aimed at providing safe and supportive workplaces for all workers and focuses on addressing issues relating to violence based on gender in the workplace.

Supporting victim-survivors of domestic and family violence

Federation congratulates members and other union activists for their support of the Unions NSW and ACTU We Won’t Wait campaign for paid domestic and family violence leave.

The cumulative actions around petitions, postcards, lobbying and various events has pressured the NSW Government to announce the introduction of 10 days of paid domestic violence leave for the victim-survivors of domestic violence from 1 January 2019.

This leave will allow victim-survivors an entitlement of up to 10 days of paid leave to seek safe housing for themselves and their children; attend medical and legal appointments or make other arrangements to support their safety and wellbeing.

This entitlement will replace the current provisions that allow up to five days of special leave only after all other forms of leave have been exhausted.

Federation urges members to continue to support We Won’t Wait activities to secure these provisions for all workers as part of the Change the Rules campaign.

National Inquiry into Sexual harassment in Australian Workplaces

The Australian Human Rights Commission survey on Sexual Harassment 2018 found that:

  • 85 per cent of women and 57 per cent of men reported they have been sexually harassed at some point in their lives
  • 23 per cent of women and 16 per cent of men report they were sexually harassed in the past 12 months
  • only 17 per cent of those who reported they had been sexually harassed last year made a formal complaint.

These findings show the current rules aimed at preventing and addressing sexual harassment in the workplace are clearly broken.

Federation will make a submission to the National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces calling for the following changes regarding the work of agencies such as Fair Work, the NSW Industrial Commission, the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), and the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board (NSWADB) and the relevant legislative framework:

  1. Increasing the number of advisors/advocates available to support workers making complaints and providing additional appropriately qualified staff to support and conduct conciliation and arbitration.
  2. Amending legislative requirements at a state and federal level to include provisions similar to the Fair Work Act regarding workplace bullying in terms of orders to stop sexual and/or gender-based harassment and prevent this behaviour occurring.
  3. Requiring Safe Work Australia to develop Codes of Practice in terms of identifying, assessing and eliminating or minimising so far as reasonably practicable the risks of sexual and/or gender-based harassment.
  4. Ensuring the Workplace Gender Equality Agency or other relevant authorities have the power and resources to require companies and government departments and agencies to report on the measures they adopt to prevent, respond to and monitor sexual and/or gender-based harassment in the workplace.
  5. Increasing funding for the AHRC and state based anti-discrimination bodies including the NSWADB to provide:
    • training materials and resources to prevent and effectively respond to sexual and/or gender harassment in the workplace. This should include specific and targeted resources to support particular groups of people identified as more likely to be sexually harassed based on gender, age, sexual orientation, disability, socio-economic status, indigeneity, culture and/or linguistic diversity, workforce characteristics or a combination of these factors.
    • targeted information and resources to assist schools, colleges and other education workplaces to prevent and effectively respond to sexual and/or gender-based harassment by, and between, students.

Federation will utilise the findings of the AHRC survey to pursue the need for public education employers to provide more effective guidance and support in relation to identifying, preventing and effectively responding to sexual and/or gender-based harassment in relation to staff and students in schools TAFE and other education workplaces.

Federation will support members to engage in the ACTU and global “Sixteen days of activism against gender-based violence” by completing the AEU sexual harassment survey, sharing the graphic and signing the petition.

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Authorised by John Dixon, General Secretary, NSW Teachers Federation, 23-33 Mary St. Surry Hills NSW 2010

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© New South Wales Teachers Federation. All Rights Reserved.

Authorised by John Dixon, General Secretary, NSW Teachers Federation, 23-33 Mary St. Surry Hills NSW 2010

Privacy Policy