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Sexual harassment: enough is enough

The WA Parliamentary report into sexual harassment against women in the FIFO mining industry was released on 23 June 2022.

Titled ‘Enough is Enough‘, the report details how harassment is “generally accepted or overlooked” and describes the “failure” of miners to recognise what was happening in their workplaces.

While it might be tempting for some to dismiss the findings of such a report as something that happens in only in the FIFO sector, statistics from Safe Work Australia highlight one in three people (33%) have experienced sexual harassment at work in the last five years.

So how does your business compare…are you doing enough to prevent harassment in your workplace? And where might an effective prevention strategy start? Like many things, knowing what defines sexual harassment seems a logical commencement point.

Sexual harassment is any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that is done either to offend, humiliate or intimidate another person, or where it is reasonable to expect the person might feel that way. It includes uninvited physical intimacy such as touching in a sexual way, uninvited sexual propositions, and remarks with sexual connotations.

Sexual harassment is against the law in Queensland. It is prohibited by the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991.

Sexual harassment does not have to be repeated or continuous to be against the law. Some actions or remarks are so offensive that they constitute sexual harassment in themselves, even if they are not repeated. Other single incidents, such as an unwanted invitation or compliment, may not be harassment if they are not repeated. Some forms of sexual harassment, such as assault, physical molestation, stalking, sexual assault and indecent exposure, are also criminal offences.

An employer has a duty of care to consider all health and safety risks in the workplace. Instances of harassment, whether these fall into sexual, bullying or discrimination categories, can adversely affect the health and safety of employees. Employers serious about preventing harassment of any kind recognise the importance of having relevant policies in place as well as providing training to their employees to:

  • understand what harassment is within a workplace context
  • not engage in or encourage other employees in such behaviour
  • report such behaviour
  • understand and comply with relevant Company policies and procedures on bullying, sexual harassment and discrimination.

Need some help with a harassment policy or awareness training for your team? No problem. Bare Bones Consulting is happy to provide a single employment policy or training on a specific topic right through to setup of a full HR function for your business. We don’t attempt to sell you a bucketload of things you don’t need (subscription anyone?) and, when you deal with us, you’ll get exactly what you order: tailored to your business, people and budget. Check out our FAQ page and see how we’re a little different than those other guys hassling you for your business.

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  • Bare Bones Consulting

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Note: Bare Bones Consulting provides HR services for employers. Employees seeking advice on workplace concerns should contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94.