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Statement on passage of Sex Discrimination and Fair Work (Respect at Work) Amendment Bill 2021

Discrimination Sex Discrimination

Friday, 3 September 2021

A statement from the Australian Human Rights Commission:

The Australian Human Rights Commission welcomes the passage of the Sex Discrimination and Fair Work (Respect at Work) Amendment Bill 2021.

The Bill contains important reforms to address sexual harassment in Australian workplaces which were recommended by the Australian Human Rights Commission following its world-leading National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces, Respect@Work.

These are necessary reforms because we know that sexual harassment in the workplace is prevalent and pervasive.

Respect@Work made 55 recommendations including 12 recommendations for legislative reform at the federal level, six of which are addressed by the Bill in whole or in part.

The Commission looks forward to working with government to progress our other legislative recommendations at the earliest opportunity.

We will continue to work with government, regulators, workers, unions, employers, advisers and the community to advance the full suite of recommendations, including through the work of the Respect@Work Council.

“It is in the interests of all Australians that every workplace is safe, respectful and productive, recognising the human rights of all workers,” Sex Discrimination Commissioner and Chair of Respect@Work Council, Kate Jenkins, said.

“Our laws should reflect these rights and responsibilities.”

Further background

The Australian Human Rights Commission’s most recent national survey on workplace sexual harassment showed that a third of people who had been in the workforce in the previous five years had experienced workplace sexual harassment.

Victims of sexual harassment can be profoundly impacted by their experiences, which can include emotional, physical, psychological and financial harm.

There are also broader systemic costs of sexual harassment. Deloitte Access Economics estimated that the annual cost to the economy from sexual harassment is $3.8 billion which includes $2.6 billion in lost productivity.

The Commission will conduct the next national survey on sexual harassment in Australian workplaces in 2022.

The Respect@Work report is available at https://humanrights.gov.au/our-work/sex-discrimination/publications/respectwork-sexual-harassment-national-inquiry-report-2020.