Independent Review into sex discrimination and sexual harassment, including predatory behaviour, in Victoria Police.

In 2014 Victoria Police requested the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission to conduct an independent review into sex discrimination and sexual harassment, including predatory behaviour, among Victoria Police personnel.

The Independent Review aimed to identify ways to ensure all of Victoria Police’s workplaces are safe, respectful and inclusive. In December 2015 the Commission publicly reported its findings and 20 recommendations in its Phase 1 Report.

Victoria Police accepted all 20 recommendations and began work to implement them. The Commission is independently monitoring the implementation work, and is reporting in two phases. The Phase 2 Audit report was released in September 2017.

The Phase 3 Audit is currently underway, with its report to be released in mid-2019.

What’s happened since 2015?

The Independent Review’s 20 recommendations – and Victoria Police’s work to implement them – have led to:

  • a new parental leave backfill scheme (commencing July 2018)
  • a policy of all-roles flex
  • specialist units to respond to experiences of workplace harm, including Taskforce Salus and OneLink
  • better access to promotional and progression training for employees regardless of their location or work pattern
  • increased leadership opportunities for women across the organisation
  • new forums to provide women with a key strategic voice in the organisation, including the Women in Policing Local Committees
  • reduced risks for recruits during training thanks to initiatives such as new professional boundaries training and the new Zero Harm Committee.

Work continues to make Victoria Police’s workplaces safer and fairer, and real change takes time. Last year, the Commission conducted the Phase 2 Audit into Victoria Police’s work to implement the recommendations.

I’m a Victoria Police employee. How can I make my voice heard?

This year, the Commission is commencing the Phase 3 Audit. Your insights are key to understanding how far Victoria Police has come and where change is still needed.

The Commission wants to give every Victoria Police employee an opportunity to be heard. Employees can participate in the Phase 3 Audit through:

  • a voluntary, anonymous online survey about experiences of sexual harassment and discrimination based on sex, gender or sexual orientation in the workplace – invitations to take part have been sent to all current Victoria Police employees
  • a confidential interview with the Commission at a neutral location, where you can share your experiences of workplace harm or insights about creating safer workplaces – currently underway until 31 October 2018
  • engaging with the Commission during site visits to stations and workplaces across Victoria – currently underway until 31 October 2018
  • a focus group discussion – currently underway for cohorts across Victoria
  • a voluntary, confidential written submission about your experiences and insights – accepted until 31 October 2018.

The Commission encourages Victoria Police employees to get in touch to learn more about how to participate. We take significant measures to ensure that your information and data stays confidential.

If you have any questions about participating in the Independent Review, please contact the Independent Review team (details at the end of this page).

The Commission will publicly release the findings of the Phase 3 Audit in 2019. The report will be available online.

Download a short brochure containing the above information: 

How do I respond to the survey?

The Commission’s voluntary, anonymous online survey is open to all current Victoria Police employees.

Each employee was sent a unique link and instructions on how to complete the survey in mid-September 2018.

You can only respond once to the survey.

If you have not received a link to the survey, please contact the Independent Review team on the details at the end of this page.

The survey closes on 25 October 2018.

I want to access support or report workplace harm

The nature and content of the Independent Review may raise sensitive issues and may lead to psychological distress for some people. There are a number of services that have agreed to assist us by providing support to people. The Independent Review is separate from all of the following services, and will not share any confidential or identifying information with any of these services.

If you need to access support, you can contact:

  • the Sexual Assault Crisis Line on 1800 806 292 (24 hours). This number diverts to your local Centre Against Sexual Assault (CASA) service during business hours and to a statewide crisis line after hours
  • OneLink on 1800 598 846 (8am–5pm) or ONELINK-WORKPLACE-HARM-MGR@police.vic.gov.au for confidential advice, guidance or support for Victoria Police personnel who have been affected by or witness workplace harm (including bullying)
  • the Victoria Police Welfare Service on (03) 9247 3344 (24 hours) or WelfareServices-OIC@police.vic.gov.au. This is only for current personnel and those within six months of leaving Victoria Police
  • the Police Association Victoria on (03) 9468 2600 (24 hours), which runs a confidential 24-hour counselling service for members and their families.

If you want to report sex discrimination, sexual harassment or victimisation, you can contact Victoria Police Taskforce Salus on (03) 8327 6845 or TASKFORCESALUS-OIC@police.vic.gov.au. Taskforce Salus can investigate allegations of serious sex discrimination, sexual harassment and predatory behaviour made against current or former Victoria Police personnel.

You may have grounds for a complaint under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010. For more information, you can visit the Commission’s page on our complaints process or contact the Commission’s Enquiries Line on 1300 292 153.

The Enquiries Line is separate from the Independent Review and may be able to refer you to relevant support services. The Independent Review’s researchers will not be able to identify complainants.

Please note that the Independent Review is not a complaints and investigation process and does not pursue individual cases of sexual harassment, sex discrimination or predatory behaviour. It is research that informs the findings and recommendations on Victoria Police policy and practice.

If you are in danger, please contact 000.

How we do our research

For Phase 1, the Commission consulted widely with both sworn and Victorian Public Sector personnel through:

  • an anonymous online survey offered to all current Victoria Police personnel, which gathered almost 5,000 responses
  • confidential interviews with more than 100 current and former Victoria Police personnel, as well as family or friends of personnel directly affected by the issue
  • interviews with people with specialised expertise and knowledge of Victoria Police
  • confidential written submissions
  • de-identified data, including workforce, conduct and complaints data, from Victoria Police
  • observation of 37 Victoria Police work and training places by project personnel
  • a review of legislation, public policy and key research relating to discrimination, harassment and violence against women.

The Phase 2 Audit focussed on assessing Victoria Police’s progress in implementing the Independent Review’s 20 recommendations. During Phase 2, the Commission reviewed a range of qualitative and quantitative evidence, including:

  • interviews with Victoria Police personnel with involvement in the implementation of the recommendations, including Command and Executive Command leaders within Victoria Police
  • interviews with relevant external stakeholders and experts
  • de-identified Victoria Police data, including workforce, conduct and complaints data
  • analysis of documentation from Victoria Police relating to implementation of recommendations
  • a small number of focus groups with different Victoria Police personnel groups.

The Phase 3 Audit will assess both the continuing implementation projects as well as the impact of this work for Victoria Police personnel. For information on how to participate in Phase 3, see I’m a Victoria Police employee. How can I make my voice heard? above. 

Confidentiality and privacy

All personal information collected by the Independent Review is kept strictly confidential. The Independent Review will not share any identifying or personal information with Victoria Police, including Taskforce Salus, without your express permission. Participants do not need to provide their name or any other personal information at any stage.

The Independent Review’s research has been approved by the Department of Justice and Regulation’s Human Research Ethics Committee. This means the way that we perform our research meets the Committee’s high standards for ethical conduct, confidentiality and participant welfare.

We are legally obliged to keep all personal information collected in this project confidential. You do not need to provide your name or any other personal information at any stage. No person participating in the research will be identified in the published report without their express consent.

The Commission complies with Victorian privacy laws and the confidentiality provisions of the Equal Opportunity Act 2010. See our Privacy Policy for more details.

All records from the research are stored and destroyed according to the Public Records Office Victoria/Victorian Government policy. 

About the Independent Review and its findings

In 2014 Victoria Police commissioned the Commission to undertake the Independent Review. The Review is conducted under the Commission’s research powers in section 157 of the Equal Opportunity Act 2010.

An Expert Panel oversees the Independent Review, comprising Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner Kristen Hilton (chair), Professor Paula McDonald, and Major General Gerard Fogarty AO (retired).

The Independent Review has three phases: the original Phase 1 Review in 2015, and two audit phases (the Phase 2 Audit in 2017 and the Phase 3 Audit in 2019).

The Phase 1 Review in 2015 found that:

  • more than 40 per cent of women surveyed had experienced some degree of sexual harassment in their lifetime
  • more than half of current personnel had witnessed at least one form of sexual harassment in the workplace in the past five years
  • women are often regarded as less competent or less committed than their male colleagues and feel that they constantly need to ‘prove themselves’
  • some men experience hostility, bullying and sexual harassment because of their actual or perceived homosexuality or because they do not fit the traditional male stereotype
  • female police officers are commonly viewed by male colleagues as potential sexual partners
  • sexual harassment, casual sexism, sexualised behaviour and sex discrimination are widespread and chronically under-reported across the organisation
  • the lifetime prevalence rate of experiencing sexual harassment for women in Victoria Police was higher than in the general community or the Australian Defence Force
  • staff are generally fearful of personal or professional repercussions that may stem from making a complaint or seeking support.

The Phase 2 Audit in 2017 found that Victoria Police has undertaken significant work towards the successful implementation of the 20 recommendations made in the Phase 1 Report. Further work is required to deliver on the intent of all 20 recommendations, embed changes, and ensure their enduring success.

Full implementation of this body of work, together with effective data collection and rigorous evaluation, will help transform Victoria Police’s culture and its capability to deliver policing services that meet the Victorian community’s needs and expectations.

Terms of Reference

The Expert Panel, led by Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner Kristen Hilton, will review, report and make recommendations on:

  1. the nature and prevalence of sex discrimination and sexual harassment, including predatory behaviour, among Victoria Police personnel
  2. the drivers of sex discrimination and sexual harassment among Victoria Police personnel
  3. the impact of sex discrimination and sexual harassment on people targeted by these behaviours
  4. initiatives required to drive cultural and practice change, including the adequacy and effectiveness of existing initiatives and of approaches to training, education, mentoring and development
  5. organisational change strategies to promote safety, equality and freedom from sexual harassment in Victoria Police
  6. any other matters the Expert Panel considers appropriate that are incidental to the above terms of reference.

Additionally, 18 months after the release of the Phase 1 Review and then again 12 months later, a further independent Report will be prepared, which:

  • audits the implementation by Victoria Police of the recommendations in the Expert Panel's Report
  • makes any further recommendations necessary.

The Expert Panel will consult widely in conducting the Independent Review.

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (the Commission) and Victoria Police agreed that issues out of scope were:

  • prevalence of sex discrimination, sexual harassment including predatory behaviours by Victoria Police personnel towards community members
  • prevalence of family violence where Victoria Police personnel are alleged perpetrators or victims
  • barriers to community members reporting sexual harassment and predatory behaviour by Victoria Police personnel.

These limitations were based on complementary initiatives being undertaken by Victoria Police and other agencies, as well as the scope of the Commission’s research powers under section 157 of the Equal Opportunity Act 2010.

Contact the Independent Review

For any enquiries in relation to the Independent Review, including requests for information in accessible formats, please contact us by email at policereview@veohrc.vic.gov.au or by telephone on (03) 9032 3498.

If you need to speak to a counsellor or support person, the support services listed above can assist you out of hours.

If you are in danger, please contact 000.

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