25 September 2023

Workplace probe into sexual harassment

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The Australian Human Rights Commission is to conduct the world’s first national inquiry into sexual harassment in the workplace.

Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Kate Jenkins said the global conversation about sexual harassment and the #MeToo movement had exposed the true prevalence of the problem.

“The national inquiry will involve an in-depth examination of sexual harassment in the workplace, nationwide consultation and extensive research,” Ms Jenkins said.

“Importantly, the inquiry will provide employees, employers and members of the public with an opportunity to participate in developing a solution to ensure Australian workplaces are safe and respectful for everyone.”

She said the 12-month inquiry will consider the economic impact of sexual harassment, the drivers of the behaviour and the adequacy of the existing legal framework.

It would also identify examples of existing good practice and make recommendations for change.

Ms Jenkins said the Commission was currently conducting its fourth national survey into workplace sexual harassment, with early indications showing that rates have increased significantly since the last survey was conducted in 2012.

“We will examine the current Australian legal framework on sexual harassment, including a review of complaints made to State and Territory anti-discrimination Agencies,” she said.

Minister for Women, Kelly O’Dwyer said more than 20 per cent of people over 15 years old in Australia had been sexually harassed, with 68 per cent of those harassed in the workplace.

“The Australian Human Rights Commission is uniquely placed to undertake a national inquiry into this issue due to its independent status, its legislative mandate in relation to sexual harassment, and specific expertise in relation to workplace sexual harassment,” Ms O’Dwyer said.

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