TO: All staff
You likely will have noticed recent media coverage about a new ‘positive duty’ on organisations to eliminate sexual harassment from their workplaces. This new legislation has caused us to pause and think about how our organisation is positioned to prevent our people from being exposed to sexual harassment, related inappropriate conduct, and the harm resulting from these unsafe behaviours.
We cannot assume that our organisation is immune to poor or unlawful behaviour. Harassment in its many forms, including sexual harassment, can happen to anyone. It’s far more prevalent than some people think.
At [COMPANY NAME], we take our commitment to workplace health and safety seriously. We welcome the new legislation contained in the Anti-Discrimination and Human Rights Legislation Amendment (Respect at Work) Act 2022 which commenced on 13 December 2022, and recognise the Australian Human Rights Commission’s increased powers to enforce the positive duty commencing on 12 December 2023.
We remain focussed on building and maintaining a culture that prevents sexual harassment in all its forms. We are committed to rigorously assessing and evaluating our effectiveness in achieving this.
According to the Australian Human Rights Commission’s 2022 Fifth National Survey of sexual harassment in Australian workplace:
- Almost two in five women (41%) and just over one in four men (26%) have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace in the last five years.
- Sexual harassment is more likely to be experienced by younger people (those aged 15-29 years old); Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people; people living with disability; and people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities, or gender expressions.
- Fewer than 1 in 5 people made a formal report or complaint about sexual harassment.
- 41% of people witnessed or heard about the sexual harassment of another person at work, and 35% took action to prevent or reduce harm. Importantly, the majority of people (61%) who took action after witnessing or hearing about workplace sexual harassment said that the harassment stopped as a result.
These statistics are unacceptable. Everyone has the right to feel safe at work. We are committed to providing a safe and respectful work environment that is free from all forms of sexual harassment and related inappropriate conduct. We expect you to show respect to those who you work with, and for you to be treated with respect at all times.
We want to ensure we have a zero-harm culture where people feel safe to speak up without fear of retribution.
If you experience sexual harassment or related inappropriate conduct, whether it happens to you or you witness it happening to someone else, we want you to feel safe and comfortable to raise these concerns with us. They will be taken seriously, you will be supported and protected, and appropriate action will be taken to address the matter.
What to do if you need to raise an instance of sexual harassment or inappropriate conduct:
- Raise any incidents you experience or witness to your manager or Human Resources [OR WHICHEVER IS THE NAME OF THE APPROPRIATE BUSINESS UNIT] You may report to someone outside of your business unit, for example, where the person you are concerned about is a nominated point of contact. [YOU SHOULD ALSO PROVIDE INFORMATION RELATED TO CONTACTING THE CEO OR RELEVANT BOARD MEMBER]. You can also contact our [EXTERNAL WHISTLEBLOWING SERVICE / ANONYMOUS REPORTING PORTAL] [ADD DETAILS OF SERVICE HERE]. Refer to our [INSERT NAME OF YOUR ORGANISATION’S POLICY / STANDARD AND LINK THROUGH TO IT].
- Contact our employee assistance program for follow up support. [ADD CONTACT DETAILS FOR EMPLOYEE ASSISTANCE PROGRAM]. The information you share in these sessions will remain confidential.
- The policies and standards relating to the workplace behaviours we hold ourselves accountable to are available for review here [ADD LINK].
We regularly review our policies, standards, and reporting data to ensure we are making progress towards eliminating sexual harassment for good at [COMPANY NAME]. We will provide periodic refresher training and updates to all staff – [ADD DETAILS OF WHEN THE NEXT TRAINING IS OR WHO TO EXPECT FURTHER COMMUNICATIONS FROM].
We all have a role to play in creating and maintaining a safe and respectful culture. All managers will be speaking with their teams to explain the new federal positive duty and to emphasise that we do not tolerate any form of sexual harassment or related inappropriate conduct. I suggest you read through our policies and feel free to ask your managers for clarification on any of the details.
If we are going to succeed in creating safe and respectful workplaces where sexual harassment is a thing of the past, we all need to work together and live our commitment to respect each other.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.
Chief Executive Officer
If you need support, please contact your EAP any time, or find below additional resources: