Sexual harassment in the workplace is the focus of a national inquiry, which is aiming to identify the extent of the problem as well as uncover real-world suggestions to address it.
The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is leading the National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces, which follows the release of its initial report in September that found the issue is systemic in our workplaces and growing in frequency.
It found that as many as two in five women and one in four men have been the victim of sexual harassment in the course of their employment – equating to one-third of Australia’s workforce.
The Transport Workers Union (TWU) subsequently polled its membership base and found staggering rates of sexual harassment of airline cabin crew – with colleagues more problematic than passengers.
Meanwhile, a separate study by a national law firm in September suggested that employers are failing to adequately address the problem, with most women who have lodged complaints unhappy with the outcomes from their employer.
The AHRC report acted as stage one of the inquiry, while stage two currently underway involves a round of public consultations. These consultations will take place in all of Australia’s capital cities and a number of regional areas.
Hobart, Perth, Geraldton and Adelaide have already had consultations held, while the inquiry is currently in Darwin this week.
It will then head to Canberra from 12 November, then Melbourne for a fortnight.
Hearings will be held in Brisbane and Townsville in early December, while Sydney as well as Albury-Wodonga won’t be held until February 2019.
“Public consultations are open to anyone who would like to contribute to the national conversation on this issue and are an opportunity for the national inquiry team to hear from individuals and organisations about their views, experiences and suggestions for change,” the inquiry website states.
Anyone wishing to participate can do so by lodging a submission via the inquiry’s website by 31 January 2019.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.