Senior APS managers encouraged to attend sexual harassment prevention workshops

By Jackson Graham

December 22, 2021

Peter Woolcott
Peter Woolcott. (The Mandarin)

The federal government’s work health and safety regulator is encouraging senior public servants to attend workshops focusing on managing and preventing workplace sexual harassment. 

It follows the APS Commission’s State of the Service report, released this month, showing complaints of sexual harassment more than doubled from 32 in 2019–20 to 78 in 2020–21. 

APS Commissioner Peter Woolcott told The Mandarin at the time he believed this was because people had a greater degree of confidence to make a formal complaint. 

“I hope that’s the case, rather than this being a doubling of bad behaviour,” he said

The Comcare training is targeting senior leaders and managers through two workshops of different lengths.

The training will focus on the responsibilities and duties under the Commonwealth Work Health and Safety Act 2011, and be instructor-led for more than six employees to attend in-house or virtually. 

A 90-minute workshop will give leaders an overview of their responsibilities and duties in preventing sexual harassment, as well as providing understandings of its drivers, how to eliminate risks and how to positively influence workplace culture. 

A half-day interactive workshop, designed for managers, work health and safety representatives and human resource officers, will also cover prevention strategies, how to report and respond to workplace incidents, and the importance of promoting a psychologically healthy workplace. 

More than 1000 people attended the two-day Comcare forum on sexual harrasment in November. 

Sex discrimination commissioner Kate Jenkins told the forum employers weren’t receiving complaints about most sexual harassment in workplaces. She said key strategies to create change included anonymous surveys, shared industry resources and a greater focus on prevention. 

Jenkins released an inquiry into parliamentary workplaces last month that found more than half of people who worked in parliament had experienced some form of bullying or harassment at work. 

People can register their agency or organisation for the Comcare training online.


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Victorians invited to have say on workplace sexual harassment reform

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