Submission to The Human Rights Commission’s inquiry into Sexual
Harassment in Australian Workplaces – February 2019
This submission has been developed by Women’s Health East on behalf of the The Together
for Equality & Respect Partnership Leadership Group. We welcome the opportunity to
provide a submission into the inquiry into sexual harassment in Australia Workplaces.
Highlighted findings of the forth national survey on sexual harassment in Australian
Women are significantly more likely than men to have experienced sexual
harassment over their lifetime (39% compared to 26%)
It is clear that those who identify as LGBTIQ (52%), or who have a disability (44%), or
are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander (53%) experience higher rates of sexual
harassment in the workplace.
The rates for Aboriginal women were slightly higher than those of men (55%
compared to 50%)
The rates for women with a disability were higher than those of men (52% compared
Women who were lower income earners were more likely to experience sexual
harassment than men (60% compared to 48%), and this is significantly higher than
those who earned higher incomes (39% for low income compared to 30% for higher
The gender gap in harassment experienced across dominant occupations ranges
from 2-8%, with the most significant gender gap for clerical and office workers (11%
male, 19% female)
Both male and female victims experienced significantly higher rates of harassment
from male perpetrators.
Recommendations for the inquiry into sexual harassment in Australian workplaces
1. The inquiry should frame sexual harassment as a form of gender-based
violence/violence against women, and thus seek to address gendered
harassment/discrimination in its prevention.
2. The inquiry should take an intersectional approach to the prevention of sexual
harassment, and recognise the effects of compounding experiences of
3. The inquiry should advocate for organisational gender equity legislation, and
advocate for whole of organisation change for gender equity in order to prevent
4. The enquiry should develop a victim centric model of reporting, which seeks to
minimise traumatisation during and after reporting. This model of reporting should
be informed by the voices of victim survivors to ensure that it is a model which
adequately supports, protects and empowers victims.