The figures released today by the Australian Human Rights Commission that show sexual harassment continues to be a major problem in workplaces should be a concern for us all.
Everyone’s Business, the 4th national survey into sexual harassment in the workplace, found one in three workers in Australia said that they had been sexually harassed at work over the last five years, compared with one in five from the 2012 survey and one in ten in 2003.
This equates to 39 per cent of women and 26 per cent of men experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace.
The results revealed that formal reporting of workplace sexual harassment continues to be low, with only 17 per cent of people making a formal report or complaint.
For almost four decades, the Commission has handled complaints about sexual harassment in Victoria’s workplaces.
We know that it is pervasive, widely tolerated and drastically under-reported in our state and beyond.
Despite the global conversation on the topic and the momentum of the #MeToo movement, people don't report because they don't think they will be believed or they worry that it could damage their career.
We also know that it can take a serious emotional, physical and economic toll.
So we want to be clear about the seriousness of the change needed.
This is the moment to think big. Victoria’s employers must reshape our workplaces to prioritise the prevention of sexual harassment and to respond properly to it when it becomes known, and they must start right away.
We need to work to change underlying social norms and inequalities that lead to sexual harassment and to change workplace cultures that do little to address sexual harassment. We have moral and legal obligations to ensure that all people work in an environment that is respectful and safe.
We can help
In Victoria, the Commission provides an alternative for people who don’t want to report sexual harassment to their workplace directly or take court action.
We have a free dispute resolution service, which provides an opportunity for people to explore ways of resolving the dispute by mutual agreement. It gives someone who has been sexually harassed a chance to explain what happened, the damage caused to them and hurt experienced.
If you think you’ve been sexually harassed, you can call our Enquiry Line on 1300 292 153 to speak with a staff member. They can give you information about the law and explain how you can make a complaint to the Commission. Find out more about sexual harassment and dispute resolution at the Commission
We also provide education and resources for employers about their responsibilities under the law. Contact our Education and Consulting Services on (03) 9032 3467.
Mobile: 0417 449 420