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Launch of National Inquiry into sexual harassment in Australian workplaces

Sex Discrimination

Thank you, Minister. Good morning everyone.

I would like to start by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, and paying my respects to their elders past and present.

In recent months, many women and men have come forward publicly to tell their stories of sexual harassment in the workplace, shining a light on this issue both in Australia, and around the world.

These personal accounts have made clear the devastating impact sexual harassment can have on individuals’ lives, as well as the significant costs to business and the community.

This spotlight on sexual harassment has turned the tide and created a clear and unprecedented appetite for change.

I am delighted to announce that the Australian Human Rights Commission will be undertaking this National Inquiry into sexual harassment in Australian workplaces, and I commend the Australian Government on their decision to fund this work.

Over the course of the next year, we will speak with individuals and organisations from all over Australia about their experiences. We will consider the economic impact of sexual harassment, the drivers of these behaviours and the adequacy of the existing legal framework.

We will do this by analysing our 2018 sexual harassment survey results, undertaking national consultations, inviting public submissions and undertaking in depth research on sexual harassment.

We will release our 4th workplace sexual harassment survey results in August. Early indications from that survey are that sexual harassment in the workplace has increased since 2012, making this Inquiry even more important for workplaces wanting to do better.

Through the Inquiry we will identify examples of existing good practice, and will make recommendations for change, providing a way forward for preventing sexual harassment in the workplace.

This National Inquiry is an Australian and, we believe, a world first in responding to the issue of workplace sexual harassment.

Now is the time to work together to create a society which is safe and respectful, and where sexual harassment at work is no longer something people simply have to put up with.
I believe that this National Inquiry is a huge step in the right direction.

Thank you.

Kate Jenkins, Sex Discrimination Commissioner