The prevalence of sexual misconduct, assault and harassment in Australian workplaces warrants employers treating this as a serious health and safety hazard and responding accordingly.

Help lines, such as the one established by Channel Nine in the wake of the allegations against Don Burke, provide a mechanism for workers to report sexual misconduct.

What would be more useful, however, is if employers took responsibility and stopped the violent, predatory behaviour before it starts.

Australian women experience high levels of gendered violence, including sexist comments, belittling behaviour, intimation, stalking, sexual assault and rape at work.

Recent research initiated by the Victorian Trades Hall Council on women’s rights and safety at work found that 64 per cent of women participants had experienced sexual harassment or violence in their workplace. Nineteen per cent of these women left a secure job because they didn’t feel safe at work.

A 2017 survey of workers in the hospitality industry in Victoria indicated that more than 85 per cent of workers, male and female, had been sexually harassed at work.

These figures are consistent with numerous academic studies and equal opportunity investigations on the prevalence of sexual harassment at work over time. They also reflect the levels of violence that Australian women experience in the community.

Given that more than one Australian women per week is killed by a partner or former domestic partner and eight in 10 women aged 18 to 24 were harassed on the street in the past year, it’s not surprising that the same phenomenon is prevalence in our workplaces.

 

Source: ABC News

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