Call to stand against gendered violence

A WorkSafe campaign that calls out workplace violence that targets people because of their gender or sexual orientation will hit television screens for the first time tonight.


The campaign – 'It comes in many forms' – seeks to raise awareness and educate employers and workers of the harm gendered violence can cause.

The TV ads portray gendered violence as a dark, menacing cloud which takes the shape of different forms of violence, such as a hand that grabs, a threatening stare, or abusive words.

WorkSafe Executive Director Health and Safety Narelle Beer said work-related gendered violence is a serious occupational health and safety hazard that can cause physical and psychological harm.

"Everyone should feel safe and respected at work, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation," Dr Beer said.

"Work-related gendered violence can be insidious, starting with what might seem like 'low level' comments, gestures or 'jokes' or escalating to inappropriate contact, stalking and aggression."

"Gendered violence is never 'just part of the job' and employers have a duty to take all reasonable steps to prevent it."

Work-related gendered violence includes any behaviour that affects the health and safety of someone because of their gender, sexual orientation, or because they don’t conform to gender stereotypes.

It can include stalking, verbal abuse, unwelcome comments or gestures, or even threats or physical violence and can involve colleagues, supervisors, clients or customers.

Dr Beer said some workers were more likely to experience work-related gendered violence, including women, young workers, workers who are LGBTIQA+, those from culturally diverse or migrant backgrounds, those with disability, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workers.

"Sadly, many incidents still go unreported as victims may fear stigma or even losing their job if they speak up, particularly if they are already in insecure employment," Dr Beer said.

A 2016 Victorian Trades Hall Council survey found that more than 60 per cent of women had experienced some form of gendered violence at work in Victoria and have felt at risk in their workplaces.

The campaign seeks to increase understanding of the issue and educate employers about their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act to prevent and respond to gendered violence at work, as far as reasonably practicable.