The Northern Territory government will allow current and former public servants to give evidence to the current sexual harassment inquiry.
The Territory government confirmed it will grant temporary waivers of existing non-disclosure agreements.
As a result, those who experienced sexual harassment while working in the NT public service will be free to tell their stories to the inquiry.
Non-disclosure agreements ban workers from disclosing details of sexual harassment or discrimination in exchange for compensation.
Consequently, the Australian Human Rights Commission’s current landmark national inquiry into workplace sexual harassment can’t find enough workers who can share their experiences.
Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins previously wrote to 120 CEOs asking them to grant waivers of the agreements.
Only a handful of companies responded however. For example, law firm Clayton Utz, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, KPMG, Rio Tinto and Telstra.
NT public servants allowed to give evidence
The NT government did not allow waivers until yesterday when contacted by ABC News.
Without warning, NT Minister for Public Employment, Gerald McCarthy, suddenly announced that all current and former employees will be permitted to give evidence to the inquiry.
A spokesperson said:
“Minister for Public Employment Gerry McCarthy has confirmed the NT Government will issue a limited waiver of confidentiality obligations in NDAs to current and also former Territory public servants can make submissions to the national inquiry into sexual harassment in Australian workplaces.”
NT decision welcomed
Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan welcomed the last minute decision of the Northern Territory government.
“The best way to address workplace sexual harassment is to firstly understand the nature and extent of the problem. And we can’t do that unless workers who have experienced this sort of conduct can share their stories,” he said.
“Hopefully, Ms Jenkins’ inquiry will provide a toolbox for employers to prevent sexual harassment in their workplaces in the future.”
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