Everyone has a right to a safe and respectful workplace. A Labor Government will act to put an end to sexual harassment in Australian workplaces.
In the past five years, one in three people experienced sexual harassment at work, including two in five women. In addition to the human, social and emotional cost, this widespread workplace harassment costs the Australian economy $3.8 billion a year in lost productivity, staff turnover, absenteeism and other impacts.
Yet most people who experience sexual harassment never report it. They fear the impact that complaining will have on their reputations, career prospects and relationships within their community or industry.
Unlike the Government, an Albanese Labor government will fully implement all 55 recommendations of the Sex Discrimination Commissioner’s groundbreaking Respect@Work Report and legislate to strengthen laws that prevent sexual harassment.
Labor will legislate to make it clear that employers have a positive duty to take reasonable and proportionate measures to eliminate sex discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation, as far as possible.
Labor in Government will work with the Workplace Sexual Harassment Council, employers, workers, unions and legal experts to finalise and implement stronger laws as a matter of priority. Labor shares the goal of businesses, workers and the wider Australian community to stamp out sexual harassment in workplaces, and will do so while working to minimise the regulatory burden on businesses by ensuring that any actions required of employers are reasonable and proportionate.
In keeping with the recommendations of the Report, Labor will work with the Workplace Sexual Harassment Council to assess whether exceptions for micro and smaller businesses are appropriate.
Labor has committed $24 million to ensure that there are properly funded Working Women’s Centres in every Australian state and territory.
Working Women’s Centres provide free, confidential assistance and advice about workplace matters, including sexual harassment, wage theft, and discrimination. Under the current Government, many of these centres have cut back their services, closed or faced closure, because of funding cuts.
Labor will invest $1.27 million to establish a one-stop shop within the Australian Human Rights Commission, to assist victims of workplace sexual harassment. The one stop shop will provide information about victims’ rights, options for making a complaint, and referrals to support services. Employers will be able to access the one-stop shop for help understanding their responsibilities to their employees.
The Australian Human Rights Commission will receive $1.5 million to hear and confidentially document the experiences of victims of historical workplace sexual harassment. This will allow the Commission to better identify how to strengthen the way we prevent and respond to sexual harassment at work, as well as helping victims come to terms with their experiences.