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Raise it! Conversations about sexual harassment and workplace equality

Some topics are tough to talk about. Discussing sexual harassment, pregnancy, parental leave and access to flexible work can be really hard.

Raise it! was a pilot project we developed and delivered to support and equip Victorian workers to have safe conversations about these important issues at work. The pilot was funded by the Victorian Office for Women.

By providing a holistic program incorporating preparation, education and conversation starter toolkits to help catalyse these conversations in a safe way, this pilot project evaluated how conversations addressing causes and consequences of sexual harassment and discrimination can help prevent these from occurring.

The Raise it! project also aimed to build stronger pathways and knowledge for addressing sexual harassment and discrimination when it occurred.

Pilot Process

From October 2018 – May 2019 the Commission piloted the program in seven diverse workplaces across Victoria.

The Raise It! program consisted of key activities which can be categorised under three stages;

1 Preparation

This stage included engagement with pilot sites, a policy and protocol check, a communications kit and 1:1 Support by Commission staff as required by pilot staff.

2 Education

The Commission drew on leading practice and research to develop an empathetic and interactive education program designed to increase awareness, knowledge and skills about addressing sexual harassment and discrimination related to parental leave and return to work, flexible work and part time work. The education program was activity based and enabled participants to build and practice conversation skills through safe role play and group activities.

The education program had a particular focus on building bystander and manager skills to identify, address and respond to incidents of sexual harassment.

3 Resource Provision

Pilot sites were provided with a series of ‘Conversation Starter’ kits that were developed through a human-centred design approach. The kits were designed to complement the education program and increase confidence and skills to have safe and healthy conversations about the key issues. The kits included three online chatbots:

  • A flexible work request planner
  • A parental leave and pregnancy planner
  • A sexual harassment support and response tool

The fourth toolkit is a multimedia Conversation Starter Kit for managers, HR Staff and champions, made up of posters, challenge or 'conversation starter' cards, a planner for participants to note their use and distribution of toolkit materials, and an email newsletter on the Raise topics that participants can sign up for.

Evaluation and enhancements

The Commission engaged Social Ventures Australia (SVA) to assist with the development of a theory of change and program logics for the program, and to conduct an external evaluation.

The Commission’s Raise It! Evaluation insights and enhancements from the pilot program paper provides an overview of the evidence-base and design of the program. It also summarises the key findings and recommendations of SVA’s external evaluation and sets out the Commission’s additional insights, and program enhancements.

If you need help

If you have experienced sex discrimination or sexual harassment at work, you may wish to:

  • make a complaint to the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission or call our Enquiry Line on 1300 292 153
  • call 1800 RESPECT for emergency healthcare referral, support or counselling services. 1800 Respect is the national sexual assault (and domestic family violence) counselling service. Available 24 hours on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800respect.org.au
  • contact the Victorian Sexual Assault Crisis Line (SACL) crisis line on 1800 806 292 or counselling line on 8345 3494
  • call the Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health (MCWH) Information line on 1800 656 421 (available in more than 40 languages).

Useful resources

More information

If you would like to speak to one our our staff about implementing Raise It! In your workplace  please call us on (03) 9032 3467 or email [email protected]

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