A coalition of 60 groups and individuals including family violence support services, legal aid centres, academics and unions has called on the Morrison government to act before the imminent federal election to prevent sexual harassment at work.
Follow up consultation on the landmark 2020 inquiry into sexual harassment by Sex Discrimination commissioner Kate Jenkins, Respect@Work, is about to close. The Minister for Women, Marise Payne, said last week the government had implemented or fully funded 42 of the 55 recommendations and "work is underway on all remaining recommendations".
Prime Minister Scott Morrison agreed in April to (in full, in-principle, or in-part) or noted all 55 recommendations.
With a likely May federal election closing in and noting that at least one in three Australians have been sexually harassed at work within the past five years, the Power to Prevent Coalition is urging the federal government to urgently implement all remaining Respect@Work recommendations, including eight legislative reforms.
"Everyone deserves to be safe at work and free from sexual harassment, but our current system is failing us," a joint statement from the coalition reads.
"While sexual harassment is pervasive across all industries and all employment levels in Australia, it is not inevitable. We have the power to prevent it."
The coalition, which includes the Women's Legal Centre ACT, the ACTU and Sexual Assault Services Victoria, has highlighted yet to be introduced recommendations including the introduction of a positive duty on employers to stop sex discrimination and harassment before it happens, and new powers to be given to the Human Rights Commission to investigate, monitor and enforce compliance.
Respect@Work also called for the Fair Work Act to be clarified to expressly prohibit sexual harassment as defined in the Sex Discrimination Act. As well, it recommended a new process to allow representative bodies to bring actions to court on behalf of people who have been sexually harassed.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.