Yesterday, Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins launched the Respect@Work report, the findings of the world-first 18-month National Inquiry into the nature and prevalence of sexual harassment in Australian workplaces in 2020.
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The landmark report brings together evidence gathered from Everyone’s Business – the Commission’s fourth national survey on the occurrence of sexual harassment in Australian workplaces. In total, 10,000 Australians were surveyed, in addition to 60 public consultations with more than 600 people across Australia, as well as 460 submissions and global research, which were all taken into account.
The report presented 55 recommendations, which are focused on proposing a new approach for government, employees and the community to better prevent and respond to incidents of sexual harassment in the workplace. The regulatory model recognises the right of workers to be free from sexual harassment as a human right, a workplace right and a safety right.
“I feel privileged that so many Australians shared with us their personal experiences of sexual harassment at work, and I have been dismayed by the harms suffered by victims and the cost to the economy,” Ms Jenkins said.
“However, I have also been heartened by the whole-of-community response to the National Inquiry. Australia wants change.”
Jenkins continued, sharing that the report also recommends that it is the responsibility of employers to take reasonable and proportionate measures to eliminate sex discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisations “as far as possible.”
Research led by the commission in 2018 found that one in three Australian’s had experienced sexual harassment in the workplace in the past five years – a significant increase in prevalence recorded by previous surveys. It also uncovered that 71% of Australians had been sexually harassed at some point in their lives, with more than four in five women and more than half of men over the age of 15 experience the behaviour.
“It occurs in every industry, in every location and at every level,” the commissioner said.
“This is not simply the story of a few bad apples. Women are still most at risk, but we also heard from men who’d been harassed at work.
“Young people under the age of 30 are at the highest risk, as well as LGBTQI workers, workers with a disability, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workers and migrant workers.”
The federal government has confirmed that they will consider the report and its recommendations.