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Australian Human Rights Commission National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Federation has made a submission to the Australian Human Rights Commission’s (AHRC) National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces and contributed to the inquiry at many levels by working with the AEU federal office, the ACTU and Unions NSW.
Federation also attended the public consultation sessions and participated in parliamentary roundtables and associated meetings.
The union will be calling for changes regarding the work of agencies such as the Fair Work Commission, NSW Industrial Relations Commission, Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), NSW Anti-Discrimination Board (NSWADB) and the relevant legislative framework at state and federal level.
Between April and June 2018, the AHRC conducted a national survey to investigate the prevalence, nature and reporting of sexual harassment in Australian workplaces and the community more broadly. The survey found:
- 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.
Consultation sessions have been conducted around the country as part of the inquiry and chaired by Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins. Federation attended the consultations held at the AHRC offices in Sydney. These included the public consultation on 11 February and on 12 February with the LGBTIQ community.
The discussions were guided by the terms of reference including the identification of drivers of workplace sexual harassment, whether some individuals are more likely to experience sexual harassment due to particular characteristics.
These included gender, age, sexual orientation, culturally or linguistically diverse background, Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander status or disability, and whether some workplace characteristics and practices are more likely to increase the risk of sexual harassment.
The commissioner also sought information about existing measures and good practice being undertaken by employers in preventing and responding to workplace sexual harassment as well as recommendations to address sexual harassment in Australian workplaces.
Mel Smith, Trade Union Training Officer and LGBTIQ Special Interest Group convenor, and I attended both sessions and made contributions on behalf of Federation to the discussions.
Please contact Professional Support on 1300 654 363 if you require advice.
— LeeandaSmith, Women’s Coordinator