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A Bad Business - Fact Sheet: The Complaints Process

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A Bad Business
(Review of sexual harassment in employment complaints 2002)

Media Pack

In this section you can access:

Media Pack Index | Media
| Launch Speech by Pru Goward | Speech by Nareen Young | Case
Fact Sheets: Key Findings | The Complaints Process | Legal Definition
of Sexual Harassment
| Cost to Employers

Fact Sheet:

The Complaints Process

Individuals can lodge complaints of
sexual harassment under the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth)
with the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC). The
person who is claiming to have been harassed or victimised and lodges
the complaint is referred to as the complainant. The respondent is
the person against whom the complaint has been lodged and may be an
individual, individuals and/or an employer.

A complaint is initially assessed to
make sure it can be investigated under the Sex Discrimination
Act 1984
(Cth). After receiving all the relevant information,
the complaint is then reviewed to decide if it should be administratively
closed, terminated or if it is suitable for conciliation.

Conciliation is a process where HREOC
brings the parties together – the complainant and the respondent
– to try and resolve the matter. Conciliation is a confidential
process where both parties are given the opportunity to talk through
the issues and reach an agreement. HREOC does not determine whether
or not there has been sexual harassment under the Sex Discrimination
Act. This is a matter for the Courts, on application by the complainant,
if the complaint is terminated.

Many complaints are successfully conciliated.
The settlements that have been agreed upon are wide and varied. Outcomes
depend on how the complainant is seeking to resolve the complaint
and what the respondent is prepared to offer.

If a complaint cannot be conciliated,
it will be terminated by the President of HREOC. A complainant may
then make an application to the Federal Court of Australia or Federal
Magistrates Court to hear and determine the allegations.

The Complaints handling process

This fact sheet is also
available for download in PDF Document for DownloadPDF and Word Document for DownloadWord formats.

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updated: 12 November 2003