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Workplace Sexual Harassment

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Workplace Sexual Harassment, reduce and eliminate the risk of sexual harassment, what is sexual harassment in the workplace

What is Workplace Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment is defined by the Fair Work Act as any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favours, or any other unwelcome behaviour of a sexual nature from one person to another.

Some examples of what workplace sexual harassment might look like can be found online at Fair Work Australia.

Industries with Higher Occurrence of Sexual Harassment

In 2018 Safe Work Australia found that one in three people have experienced workplace sexual harassment over the past five years. Sadly, this number is increasing across a number of different industries, most recently the mining sector, where a report titled ‘Enough is enough’ – Sexual Harassment against women in the FIFO mining industry made headlines.

However, mining isn’t the only industry in Australia with a high prevalence of sexual harassment. The Australian Human Rights Commission 2018 National Survey found that there was a higher occurrence of sexual harassment in the following industries.

Information, media and telecommunications

Arts and recreation services

Electricity, gas, water and waste services

Retail trade


Employer Responsibility

Workplace sexual harassment isn’t just an HR matter, in fact it is a Work Health and Safety (WHS) issue.  Employers have a responsibility and a duty of care to their employees – providing and preserving a safe workplace that is free of sexual harassment. There are WHS laws in place that require employers to take action in reducing or eliminating the risk of sexual harassment in the workplace. Some of the preventative actions have been listed below.

See the full guide for preventing workplace sexual harassment.

Ways to Reduce & Eliminate the Risk of Sexual Harassment

Foster a positive and respectful work culture

This allows employees to feel safe and valued within the workplace,

Early intervention of unwanted offensive behaviour

This will help prevent repeat occurrence of this behaviour and reduce the chance of sexual harassment.

Encourage reporting of sexual harassment

Implement systems to allow for informal, formal, anonymous and confidential reporting. Make sure that your employees are aware that there is support and systems in place for occurrences of inappropriate behaviour.

Inform and train your employees on preventing sexual harassment

Ensure that managers and employees understand appropriate workplace behaviours and policies.

Create workplace policies dealing with sexual harassment

Set clear expectations of employee behaviour in the workplace.

Implement safe work systems and action plans

If some of your employees work alone or after-hours, WorkSafe Guardian provides 24/7 safety monitoring with welfare check-ins, safety and medical alerts to keep your employees safe.

If you are experiencing sexual harassment or are in need of immediate support please contact these 24/7 services.

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