Employers and workers will have access to a one-stop-shop of resources to combat sexual harassment and create gender inclusive and safe workplaces.
Launched by Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins, the Respect@Work website will help employers prevent and respond to sexual harassment.
The website is one of the key recommendations from Ms Jenkins’ landmark report of the same name which found workplace sexual harassment was prevalent and pervasive in Australian workplaces.
Ms Jenkins said public discussions in the past few years had caused momentum for change and the next step was for employers to be proactive instead of reactive.
She said rather than employers operating as though their workplace doesn’t have a harassment problem until someone complains, they should assume it is happening.
“There’s been lots of action already but it’s really not even saying you have to do a whole lot more – it’s saying shift your effort,” she told ABC radio on Wednesday.
“Look at the risk factors, consider where … that risk is coming in (and) what you can do proactively to make sure that harassment isn’t occurring.”
The website provides resources and training for individuals and businesses to tackle harassment and promote inclusion.
Federal parliament is considering legislation that puts the onus on employers to stop sexual harassment in the workplace and the website will provide education ahead of the proposed laws coming into force.
“The change in the law is to reorient the attention towards what we would rather which is to stop the sexual harassment,” Ms Jenkins said.
“The commission is funded to (provide) education to ensure that workplaces, and particularly recognising small workplaces and small businesses, are informed about what that would look like, what they can do.”
The website has been welcomed by the head of the peak small business representation group, who said employers needed tools to help them meet their obligations.
“Small businesses are committed to safe and productive workplaces and in the last few years many have risen to the challenge of ensuring their workers and communities are safe,” Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia chief Alexi Boyd said.
“We encourage small businesses (to) use this excellent resource and to reach out for support where needed.”
The website is the first time information on creating safe workplaces has been presented in a single place in Australia.
Ms Jenkins said although change had been slow, she was optimistic the move was the next step towards safer Australian workplaces.
The website can be accessed via respectatwork.gov.au and is an initiative of the Australian Human Rights Commission and the Respect@Work Council.
1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)
Lifeline 13 11 14
(Australian Associated Press)