Sexual harassment remains endemic in Australian workplaces. Almost two in five women (39 per cent), and one in four men (26 per cent) report experiencing sexual harassment. Diverse groups, including First Nations People, people with disability, LGBTIQ+ people, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and young people are more likely to experience sexual harassment. Barriers to reporting remain, with only 17 per cent of people experiencing sexual harassment in the last five years making a formal complaint (Australian Human Rights Commission, Fourth national survey on sexual harassment in Australian workplaces (2018)).
In 2018, in the context of the #MeToo movement, the Australian Government asked the Australian Human Rights Commission (‘the Commission’) to conduct a national inquiry into sexual harassment in Australian workplaces. The resulting inquiry report, [email protected], made 55 recommendations to create safer, harassment-free workplaces (Australian Human Rights Commission, [email protected]: National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces (Report, March 2020)).
In 2021, we’ve seen a renewed focus on gendered violence and sexual harassment with allegations of sexual assault and sexual harassment in Federal Parliament. In response, tens of thousands of Australians took part in the ‘March 4 Justice’ across the country, and over 90,000 people signed a petition demanding that the Government fully implement the [email protected] report recommendations.
The Government response
Under mounting political pressure to take action, on 8 April 2021 the Federal Government released its response to [email protected], entitled ‘A Roadmap for Respect: Preventing and Addressing Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces’ (‘Roadmap’). The Roadmap responds to all 55 recommendations of [email protected], with the Government noting, or agreeing in full, in part, or in principle to each recommendation.