Laws and Legislation 

As the leading provider and designer of training in the Respect @ Work we support your needs with purpose built programs to meet your needs.  All programs are uniquely customised to suit your organisation. 

Respectful Workplace Program

(Sexual Harassment, Bullying and Discrimination)

Australia’s pioneering Respect at Work Laws and Legislation mark a pivotal shift in workplace dynamics, emphasizing the imperative of cultivating environments that prioritize respect, equality, and safety. Under this legislative framework, organizations are not only compelled to adopt these measures but also to conduct yearly staff training. Moreover, the inclusion of the All Reasonable Steps defense adds an extra layer of complexity to compliance, setting a new standard for accountability and prevention. www.respectfulworkplace.au

These laws underscore a collective commitment to eradicating harassment, discrimination, and bullying from workplaces across the country. By mandating the implementation of specific guidelines, Australia’s Respect at Work Legislation holds organizations responsible for creating workplaces that uphold the dignity and well-being of every individual. This signifies a resolute stance against behaviors that undermine inclusivity and mutual respect.

Central to compliance is the mandatory annual training for all staff members. This proactive approach empowers employees with the knowledge and tools to recognize, report, and address inappropriate behavior. Yearly training sessions cultivate a deeper understanding of rights, responsibilities, and acceptable standards of conduct, fostering an environment where respect is non-negotiable.

However, the legislation also introduces the concept of the All Reasonable Steps defense. This provision acknowledges that despite organizations’ best efforts, instances of misconduct may still arise. The All Reasonable Steps defense offers organizations a defense against liability if they can demonstrate that they took every feasible measure to prevent and address the behavior in question. This emphasizes the need for proactive steps, clear policies, and diligent response mechanisms.

The significance of the All Reasonable Steps defense lies in its encouragement of comprehensive and strategic preventative measures. Organizations must go beyond mere compliance and actively demonstrate their commitment to cultivating respectful cultures. By ensuring robust policies, effective reporting mechanisms, and ongoing training, organizations can better shield themselves from liability while fostering an atmosphere of trust and accountability.

In conclusion, Australia’s Respect at Work Laws, paired with the requirement of annual staff training and the All Reasonable Steps defense, shape a holistic approach to workplace respect and safety. This multifaceted framework not only compels compliance but also encourages organizations to become pioneers in promoting inclusive, respectful, and secure work environments. By championing these principles, organizations uphold the spirit of the legislation and contribute to a transformative shift in Australia’s workplace culture.

The government is committed to fully implementing all recommendations of the Respect@Work Report and has prioritised action to have the most meaningful and immediate impact to stop sexual harassment and create safer, respectful and more equitable workplaces.

Legislative reforms

The Anti-Discrimination and Human Rights Legislation Amendment (Respect at Work) Act 2022 has commenced and implements 6 outstanding legislative recommendations of the Respect@Work Report (recommendations 16, 17, 18, 19, 23 and 43).

The Act strengthens the legal and regulatory frameworks relating to sex discrimination and shifts the system to focus more on preventative efforts to eliminate sexual harassment in Australian workplaces.

The key reform is the introduction of a positive duty in the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 that requires employers to take reasonable and proportionate measures to eliminate certain forms of unlawful sex discrimination, including sexual harassment, as far as possible.

The Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee inquired into the Anti-Discrimination and Human Rights Legislation Amendment Bill 2022 prior to the Bill’s passage and released its report on 3 November 2022. The government tabled its response to the Committee’s report on 25 January 2023.

In December 2022, a new positive duty on employers and persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) to eliminate workplace sex discrimination and harassment commenced.

The Anti-Discrimination and Human Rights Legislation Amendment (Respect at Work) Act 2022 (Cth) amended the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth), introducing a positive duty on employers and PCBUs to eliminate:

  • workplace sexual harassment, sex discrimination and sex-based harassment;
  • conduct that amounts to subjecting a person to a hostile workplace environment on the ground of sex;
  • and, certain acts of victimisation.

This important change requires employers and PCBUs to shift their focus to actively preventing workplace sex harassment and discrimination, rather than responding only after it occurs. The new positive duty imposes a legal obligation on employers and PCBUs to take proactive and meaningful action to prevent workplace sexual harassment, sex discrimination, sex-based harassment, conduct that amounts to subjecting a person to a hostile workplace environment on the ground of sex and victimisation from occurring in the workplace or in connection to work.

New regulatory powers have been conferred on the Australian Human Rights Commission to investigate and enforce compliance with the positive duty. Recognising that employers and PCBUs will need time to make changes to ensure that they comply with their new legal obligations, the Commission’s compliance powers will commence in December 2023.

The positive duty was a key recommendation of the Commission’s landmark Respect@Work Report, led by Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins, published in March 2020. The Commission is currently developing practical education and guidance materials to help employers and PCBUs understand their responsibilities and the changes they may need to make to meet these new legal obligations. These materials will be made publicly available on the Respect@Work website and the Australian Human Rights Commission’s website.


This 45 Min Online Program is suitable for staff at all levels and is relevant for all workplaces, aiming to educate generally about the negative impacts of harassment and also to challenge widely held misconceptions about what sexual harassment is.  This program is used by more than 1 Million people per annum in Australia and New Zealand.



For employers an essential skill in the provision of training and awareness around sexual harassment, bullying, culturally appropriate services, gender and cultural awareness entails an understanding of how a person’s culture may inform their values, behaviour, beliefs and basic assumptions against the laws that prohibit these actions.


Virtual Delivery offers the flexibility to run sesssions across time zones and time slots outside normal working hours. Our virtual workshops are highly interactive and focus on the issues and challenges surrounding this complex topic and the most effective methods of encouraging compliance with legislation while helping to avoid problems.