Let's be very clear about workplace sexual harassment

WorkSafe is encouraging all Victorian employers and workers to make it their business to stamp out workplace sexual harassment.


WorkSafe's Let's Be Very Clear campaign raises awareness of what sexual harassment is to educate employers on their responsibilities and encourage workers to call out unacceptable behaviour.

The campaign launches today and will run across digital, print, radio and social media channels for a month.

Employers are reminded that preventing and effectively dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace is their responsibility and that failing to protect workers is a crime.

WorkSafe Health and Safety Executive Director Julie Nielsen said the campaign was a wake-up call that this kind of behaviour can never be ok.

"Let's be very clear - a workplace where sexual harassment is tolerated is an unsafe workplace," she said.

"Employers have a responsibility to provide a safe and healthy workplace and we all have a role to play in calling out this unacceptable behaviour when we see it.

"Everyone deserves to feel safe at work, which is why this campaign removes any confusion around what constitutes sexual harassment in the workplace."

The campaign will provide examples of specific behaviours that constitute sexual harassment and remove any ambiguity that could stop workers speaking out.

It will target employers in industries identified as high risk, including information, media and telecommunications, healthcare and social assistance, retail, education and training, and manufacturing.

Employee groups more likely to experience harassment, such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workers, culturally and linguistically diverse and migrant workers, young workers, workers with a disability and workers who identify as LGBTQIA+, will also be a focus of the campaign.

Sexual harassment is a common form of gendered violence and involves any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that can be reasonably expected to make a person feel offended, humiliated or intimidated.

One in three people have been sexually harassed at work in the past five years, the Australian Human Rights Commission’s last national survey on sexual harassment in the workplace found.

The overwhelming majority of sexual harassment inquiries and complaints received by the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC) last year were work related.

There was a 36 per cent increase in inquiries to the VEOHRC about workplace sexual harassment in 2020 compared to 2019 and the number of complaints was down only marginally last year, despite the impact of COVID-19 on working arrangements.

There were 134 injury claims involving possible sexual harassment made to WorkSafe in the 2019/20 financial year, but the rate of sexual harassment is likely to be higher as much goes unreported.

WorkSafe sought feedback from a variety of stakeholder and industry groups to develop the Let's Be Very Clear campaign.

The campaign will run across digital, print, radio and social media channels for a month.

WorkSafe has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with VEOHRC to take a united approach to preventing workplace sexual harassment.

Under the agreement, WorkSafe and VEOHRC will share information, refer inquiries and complaints to each other where appropriate and collaborate on inspections, education and promotional activities.