BirdAn origami like bird iconCaseA briefcase like bagCoinA dollar sign in a circleDirectory of WomenDirectory of WomenDocumentsA pile of documentsFacebookFind Victorian Women's Trust on FacebookFlagsSeveral strings of flagsHeartA heart iconInstagramFind Victorian Women's Trust on InstagramLinked InFind Victorian Women's Trust on Linked InMap markerMap marker iconMegaphoneMegaphone iconMountainsMountains with flag on top iconScalesA set of scalesTickTick in a circleTwitterFind Victorian Women's Trust on TwitterYoutubeFind Victorian Women's Trust on Youtube

Power to Prevent: Urgent Actions Needed to Stop Sexual Harassment at Work

Joint statement

We are a group of diverse organisations, unions, researchers, peak bodies, health professionals and lawyers who have come together to say we need to do more to stop sexual harassment in workplaces. Our organisations and research efforts see the effects of sexual harassment on people around Australia every day and how our systems are not working to respond to the issues.

Everyone deserves to be safe at work and in their community. Yet the rates of sexual harassment in Australia are alarming, particularly for women, with 85% having experienced it in their lifetime. Sexual harassment is about more than just individual behaviour. It is a problem that is deeply entrenched within our society and occurs because gender inequality is ingrained in our social and cultural norms, structures and practices.

It’s time that employers and workplaces stamp out sexual harassment. Sexual harassment causes significant harm to individuals, workplaces and society. We know what the solutions are, but we need governments and employers to implement them. We need strong action to prevent and respond to sexual harassment, and we need it now. We call on State, Territory and Federal Governments across Australia to take urgent and coordinated action to implement the following solutions.

  1. Dedicated prevention efforts to address the underlying gendered drivers of sexual harassment, which should be part of a holistic strategy to prevent violence against women and promote gender equality in line with Change the story: A shared framework for the primary prevention of violence against women and their children in Australia.
  2. Stronger and clearer legal duties on employers to take proactive steps to prevent sexual harassment at work, and strong and effective regulators that have the full suite of regulatory tools and resources necessary to effectively tackle sexual harassment, including as a cultural, a systemic and a health and safety issue.
  3. Access to fair, effective and efficient complaints processes, including a new right of action under the Fair Work Act, extended time limits, increased transparency of conciliation outcomes where appropriate, and other amendments and resources necessary to address the unique barriers that currently prevent workers who experience sexual harassment from taking effective legal action.
  4. Appropriate advocacy and support for workers who experience sexual harassment, including access to information, counselling and legal services that are appropriately resourced and coordinated.
  5. Accessible reporting tools, including piloting an online reporting tool that assists people to report and address problem behaviour and seek support, and identifies trends to assist with prevention and enforcement efforts.

We stand together to call for change to create sexual harassment free workplaces.


List of Signatories (as at 28 February 2019):

  1. Alice Springs Women’s Shelter
  2. Annie North Inc
  3. Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union – Victoria Branch
  4. Australian Council for International Development
  5. Australian Council of Social Service
  6. Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU)
  7. Australian Discrimination Law Experts Group, Academic forum
  8. Australian Education Union – Victoria
  9. Australian Lawyers’ Alliance
  10. Australian Manufacturing Worker’s Union Victorian Branch
  11. Australian Services Union Victorian and Tasmanian Authorities & Services Branch
  12. Australian Women Against Violence Alliance
  13. Basic Rights Queensland
  14. Centres Against Sexual Assault Forum
  15. CFMEU Construction and General Division Victoria and Tasmanian Branch
  16. Community and Public Sector Union – PSU Group
  17. Community Legal Centres’ NSW
  18. Disability Discrimination Legal Service
  19. Djirra
  20. Domestic Violence NSW
  21. Domestic Violence Victoria
  22. Dr Alysia Blackham, Academic
  23. Dr Belinda Smith, Associate Professor of Sydney Law School, University of Sydney
  24. Dr Cristy Clark, Legal Academic
  25. Dr Dominique Allen, Legal Academic
  26. Dr Karen O’Connell, Associate Professor of Faculty of Law, University of Technology, Sydney
  27. Dr Paula McDonald, Legal Academic
  28. Dr Sara Charlesworth, Legal Academic
  29. Drummond Street Services
  30. Emeritus Professor Margaret Thornton of Australian National University College of Law
  31. Emma Coetsee, Human Rights Consultant
  32. Equality Rights Alliance
  33. Fair Agenda
  34. Federation of Community Legal Centres
  35. Finance Sector Union of Victoria
  36. Fitted for Work
  37. Gender Equity Victoria (GEN VIC)
  38. Gippsland Sexual and Reproductive Health Alliance
  39. Gippsland Women’s Health
  40. Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand
  41. Gordon Legal
  42. Health and Community Services Union
  43. Human Rights Law Centre
  44. Independent Education Union Victoria and Tasmania
  45. International Women’s Development Agency
  46. Job Watch
  47. Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research, UTS
  48. Justice Connect
  49. Karen Willis, Executive Officer, Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia
  50. Kingsford Legal Centre
  51. Liam Elphick, Legal Academic
  52. Maritime Union of Australia
  53. Maurice Blackburn
  54. Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance
  55. Minus18
  56. National Association of Community Legal Centres (NACLC)
  57. National Working Women’s Centres
  58. Not in My Workplace
  59. NOW Australia
  60. NT Working Women’s Centre
  61. Professor Beth Gaze, Academic
  62. Public Health Association of Australia
  63. Public Interest Advocacy Centre
  64. Rail Bus and Tram Union
  65. Redfern Legal Centre
  66. RMIT Centre for People, Organisation & Work (CPOW)
  67. Ruby Gaea Darwin Centre Against Sexual Violence
  68. Sexual Assault Support Service Inc
  69. Shop Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association (SDA) National
  70. St Kilda Legal Service
  71. Switchboard Victoria
  72. Thorne Harbour Health
  73. Unions NSW
  74. United Voice
  75. University of Melbourne Students Union
  76. Victoria Legal Aid
  77. Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service
  78. Victorian Council of Social Service
  79. Victorian Trades Hall Council (VTHC)
  80. Victorian Women’s Lawyers
  81. Victorian Women’s Trust
  82. Villamanta Disability Rights Legal Service Inc.
  83. WEstJustice
  84. Women in Adult and Vocational Education (WAVE)
  85. Women with Disabilities Victoria
  86. Women’s Electoral Lobby
  87. Women’s Health and Wellbeing Barwon South West
  88. Women’s Health Goulburn North East
  89. Women’s Health in the South East (WHISE)
  90. Women’s Health NSW
  91. Women’s Health Victoria
  92. Women’s Health West
  93. Women’s Legal Service NSW
  94. Women’s Legal Service Victoria
  95. Women’s Legal Services Australia
  96. Women’s Property Initiatives
  97. Working Women Queensland
  98. Working Women’s Centre South Australia Inc
  99. Youth Affairs Council Victoria
  100. YWCA Australia
  101. Northern Territory Legal Aid Commission

VWT's submission

We also wrote a separate submission to the AHRC Inquiry. Click on the button below to learn more.

learn more