Increase in workplace sexual harassment unacceptable

Media Release
  • Minister for Jobs and Industrial Relations
  • Minister for Women

The results of a new survey which show an increase of sexual harassment in the workplace make it clear that there is more work to do.

Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Kate Jenkins, today released the Australian Human Rights Commission’s fourth National Survey into Workplace Sexual Harassment.

“This Government provided additional funding to increase the survey from 2,000 to 10,000 participants and we are deeply concerned that it has shown an increase in sexual harassment in the workplace,” the Minister for Women, the Hon Kelly O’Dwyer MP, said.

That is why the Government is providing $500,000 of funding towards the AHRC’s National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in the Workplace, led by the Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Kate Jenkins, as announced in June.

The world first National Inquiry is a meaningful step forward that will assist employers to reduce the prevalence of sexual harassment in the workplace and ensure, where it does occur, it is dealt with sensitively and appropriately. The National Inquiry is accepting submissions until 31 January 2019.

The Coalition Government has zero tolerance for violence against women, committing well in excess of $300 million to address women’s safety. With women now employed in record numbers and the gender pay gap reduced to a record low of 14.5% it is vital that government, business and the community work together to ensure this persistent and pervasive problem is addressed so that women’s improving economic security are not undermined.

For individuals the personal and career consequences of workplace sexual harassment are very significant. However the effects on workplaces are also substantial, including reduced productivity, increased staff turnover, absenteeism, compensation claims and early retirement.

According to the National Survey released today, 39 per cent of women have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace in the last five years. In 79 per cent of cases, the perpetrators of workplace sexual harassment are male. For the 56 per cent of people who experienced repeated sexual harassment in the workplace, the harassment had been ongoing for more than six months.

“These results show that we need to keep working to change the culture of Australian workplaces. Women should feel safe at work, and in every other aspect of their lives,” Minister O’Dwyer concluded.

The AHRC provides resources for employees and employers, such as ‘Good practice good business’ factsheets, to help employers prevent harassment in the workplace.

If you have experienced sexual harassment, you can access free 24/7 counselling and support by calling 1800 RESPECT. If you would like to make a submission to the National Inquiry or make a formal complaint about sexual harassment, you can contact the AHRC on 1300 656 419 or by visiting https://www.humanrights.gov.au/. You can also find services in your state or territory by visiting www.humanrights.gov.au/list-sexual-assault-services. 

For more information

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