Support for workplaces to prevent and address sexual harassment
The Respect@Work Council, chaired by National Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins, has launched a new website that will help employers prevent and respond to sexual harassment, and will support them to create gender inclusive, safe, and respectful workplaces.
In an Australian first, the Respect@Work website is a one-stop-shop that brings together a comprehensive set of resources for employers and workers to address sexual harassment in the workplace.
One of the key recommendations of the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Respect@Work Report, the website includes good-practice guides, training materials, workplace-assessment tools, information, videos, and guidance. All material on the website is free and easily accessible.
Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins said: "The Respect@Work website will help employers meet their obligations to provide safe environments for workers, free from sexual harassment, with better access to protection and support.
“Many employers already provide supportive responses when harassment occurs, but that is not enough – all employers also have a responsibility to actively prevent harassment happening in the first place, and this website will support those actions.”
The Anti-Discrimination and Human Rights Legislation Amendment (Respect at Work) Bill 2022 (Cth), currently before federal parliament, will create a positive duty on employers to prevent workplace sexual harassment.
Commissioner Jenkins said: “The website will help workers understand their rights and responsibilities. It includes information for people who experience or witness workplace sexual harassment, including suggestions for responding to situations.
“The website delivers a much-needed improvement in the resources and support provided to workers and employers across Australia. It is a vital tool that will help workers and businesses of all sizes understand, identify, prevent and respond to sexual harassment.”
Australian Council of Trade Unions President, Michele O'Neil said: “The Respect@Work report was a landmark moment in the ongoing struggle to ensure that every woman is safe in their workplace and in our community.
“Together with the Federal Government's Respect@Work Bill, this website is another step towards implementing the report's recommendations, and making all workplaces safer and more inclusive.”
Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia CEO, Alexi Boyd said: “Small businesses are committed to safe and productive workplaces and in the last few years, many have risen to the challenge of ensuring their workers and communities are safe.
“COSBOA and its members associations, which represent many small businesses, have been pleased to be part of the consultations to make this new website as accessible and useful as possible.
"It is critical that all small businesses have access to free, flexible, easy to use tools to help them meet their obligations. We encourage small businesses use this excellent resource, and to reach out for support where needed.”
Alexi Boyd and Michelle O’Neil are both members of the Respect@Work Council, which was formed following a recommendation of the Commission’s Respect@Work: Sexual Harassment National Inquiry Report in March 2020. The Council’s members include regulators, employer and worker representatives and community agencies.
The report made 55 recommendations to governments, the private sector and the community for reforms to more effectively prevent and address workplace sexual harassment.
Recommendation 48 of the report was a collaboration to “deliver information, education and resources for workers and employers through an online platform.” The Respect@Work website addresses that recommendation.
In September, the Commission welcomed the Federal Government’s commitment to implement the remaining legislative recommendations from the Respect@Work Report when it introduced the Respect@Work Bill to parliament.
Commissioner Jenkins said: “Sexual harassment is not a women’s issue – it is a societal issue, which every person and every workplace can contribute to addressing. This website will support all Australians in that goal.”
The Respect@Work website is an initiative of the Australian Human Rights Commission and the Respect@Work Council and can be accessed at https://respectatwork.gov.au
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