New Respect@Work website launches to address workplace sexual harassment


Up until now, there’s not been a single comprehensive set of resources for Australian employers to address sexual harassment in the workplace. That’s changing with the newly launched Respect@Work website.

An initiative of the Australian Human Rights Commission and the Respect@Work Council, the new website will include good-practice guides, training materials, workplace-assessment tools, information, videos and guidance directed at preventing and responding to sexual harassment. 

All the materials will be free and easily accessible to best support employers to create gender inclusive, safe and respectful workplaces. 

Chair of the Respect@Work Council and Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins says this new website will help employers reach their obligations around providing a safe environment for workers. 

These obligations come as current legislation before federal parliament creates a “positive duty” for employers to prevent workplace sexual harassment. This means they’ll need to be proactive in promoting equality. 

“Many employers already provide supportive responses when harassment occurs, but that is not enough,” says Jenkins. “All employers also have a responsibility to actively prevent harassment happening in the first place, and this website will support those actions.”

Workers will also get help understanding their rights and responsibilities through the website.

Jenkins says the site has “information for people who experience or witness workplace sexual harassment, including suggestions for responding to situations.”

The “positive duty” legislation, the Respect@Work Council and its new website were formed after the Australian Human Right’s Commission’s Respect@Work Report, released March 2020, made 55 recommendations to governments, the private sector and the community for reforms to more effectively prevent and address workplace sexual harassment. 

The website addresses recommendation 48, which says to “deliver information, education and resources for workers and employers through an online platform”.

Member of the Respect@Work Council and Australian Council of Trade Unions President Michele O’Neil says the report “was a landmark moment in the ongoing struggle to ensure that every woman is safe in their workplace and in our community.”

“Together with the Federal Government’s Respect@Work Bill, this website is another step towards implementing the report’s recommendations, and making all workplaces safer and more inclusive,” O’Neil said.

Businesses of all sizes will benefit from this new website with another member of the Respect@Work Council and CEO of the Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia (COSBOA), Alexi Boyd saying that many small businesses have also risen to the challenge of ensuring a safe workplace for their workers and communities.

“It is critical that all small businesses have access to free, flexible, easy to use tools to help them meet their obligations,” said Boyd. “We encourage small businesses to use this excellent resource, and to reach out for support where needed.”

The comprehensive website contains resources for businesses big or small and delivers a much-need improvement to the available support for Australian workplaces in addressing workplace sexual harassment. 

“Sexual harassment is not a women’s issue- it is a societal issue, which every person and every workplace can contribute to addressing. This website will support all Australians in that goal,” Jenkin said.