The Victorian government has opened public consultation on ways to prevent and respond to workplace sexual harassment.
Workplace safety minister Ingrid Stitt has encouraged members of the community, businesses, workers and organisations to give feedback on a range of issues that will shape state government reforms to address sexual harassment.
“We want to hear from all Victorians about how we can prevent and better respond to sexual harassment in our workplaces,” she said.
“People who experience workplace sexual harassment can be left traumatised and their careers cut short — that’s why we’re taking action to stop this abhorrent behaviour.”
A 2018 national survey conducted by the Australian Human Rights Commission found 33% of respondents who had been in the workforce in the previous five years had experienced workplace sexual harassment. The commission’s [email protected] report, released earlier this year, found that ‘workplace sexual harassment is prevalent and pervasive’ across the country.
Questions raised in the new consultation paper relate to prevention, support, enforcement, and awareness-raising activities.
The call for feedback has coincided with the third meeting of the Ministerial Taskforce on Workplace Sexual Harassment, co-chaired by parliamentary secretary for workplace safety Bronwyn Halfpenny and lawyer Liberty Sanger. The taskforce’s advice will inform the state government’s reform agenda in addition to community feedback.
The group, which includes members from industry, unions, the legal sector and advocates, has been tasked with finding ways to bolster the state’s occupational health and safety framework to address sexual harassment.
The taskforce will also consider a mandatory incident-notification scheme that would require employers to report incidents of workplace sexual harassment to WorkSafe, and measures to prevent the misuse of non-disclosure agreements in sexual harassment matters.
“We’re working to make sure that the burden is not solely on victims to make a complaint – instead we want workplaces to take proactive steps to create a safe working environment,” Halfpenny said.
Victorians can have their say on the consultation paper until July 26.