Workers who sexually harass colleagues will face tougher penalties under a new plan by the Victorian government designed to crack down on workplace creeps.
The proposed changes to tackle sexual harassment include changing occupational health and safety laws to specifically include harassment and sexual violence.
There are also plans to increase funding for the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission to educate workers and investigate sexual harassment.
WorkSafe Victoria investigators would complete “respectful relationship” courses and other gender-equality training.
Increase in reports of sexual harassment
The Equal Opportunity Commission says there has been a 20 percent increase in sexual harassment complaints and a 31 percent increase in sex discrimination claims.
Commissioner Kristen Hilton said the increase in reporting of incidents is the result of sexual harassment being brought into the light through the #MeToo movement.
“It is encouraging to see a public debate to stamp out sexual harassment, and change behaviours that enable it and allow it to go unreported,” she said.
Victorian Labor’s policy platform in the lead up to last year’s election declared that existing laws had failed to protect women from sexual harassment.
“It’s clear that despite 30 years of sex discrimination and harassment legislation, existing laws are not keeping women safe or providing adequate recourse when they want to challenge sexual harassment in the workplace,” Labor said.
“Instead, a victim-blaming culture continues to pervade the prosecution and accountability of businesses for sexual harassment, violence and discrimination.”
Anything that reduces sexual harassment is a good thing
Industrial relations advocate Miles Heffernan from Sexual Harassment Claims welcomed the proposed changes.
“Anything that can reduce the incidence of sexual harassment in the workplace is a good thing,” he said.
“What many people don’t realise is that sexual harassment can have a devastating effect on victims, and that sort of conduct has no place in Australian workplaces.”
Miles Heffernan is one of our specialist team at Sexual Harassment Claims who can assist people who have been subjected to sexual harassment or sex discrimination.
If you have experienced sexual harassment or sex discrimination, you may be entitled to compensation.
For help and advice, please call our specialist team at Sexual Harassment Claims on
1300 463 866
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