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Sexual Harassment in the Workplace - The HREOC Complaint Process

Media Pack Index|| Fact Sheet: The Complaint

The HREOC Complaint 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.

Image: The HREOC Complaints Process

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.