As an employee, you have a right to feel safe at work. Your employer is responsible for providing and maintaining a safe workplace that is free of sexual harassment.
You are also protected from sexual harassment at work under equal opportunity and anti-discrimination laws.
As an employee, you also have a responsibility to take reasonable care of your own health and safety in the workplace, as well as the health and safety of others who may be affected by what you do or don't do.
If you are experiencing sexual harassment, there are a number of services available to support you.
If you feel unsafe right now or need immediate support (available 24 / 7):
If you have experienced work-related sexual harassment there are a range of options and support services available. If you feel safe to do so, you should report sexual harassment directly through your incident reporting system or directly to your manager or to human resources. If this is not possible or practical in your situation, other options for reporting the issue include:
Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission provides a free and confidential information and complaint process for people who have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace and other areas of public life such as education and accessing goods and services. They also deal specifically with issues of discrimination, victimisation, human rights and racial or religious vilification. To speak with an enquiry officer call 1300 292 153.
Victoria Legal Aid provides legal advice, information and representation to people who may have experienced sexual harassment, discrimination or victimisation. For legal advice or assistance, call 1300 792 387.
The Commission is Australia’s national workplace relations tribunal. It is responsible for administering the provisions of the Fair Work Act. The Commission hears claims as a tribunal and does not investigate. You can lodge a claim relating to workplace bullying, general protections matters that may relate to discrimination, or unfair dismissal. You can contact the Commission on 1300 799 675 or find out more online.
Third parties (for example, if you have witnessed sexual harassment or been made aware of sexual harassment by the person affected) can also make a report through the above mechanisms, but you must consult with the person affected and agree on next steps before you do so.
It is important that the person affected is in agreement with, and has control over actions the third party is taking on their behalf. This includes agreement on any action taken to report the sexual harassment, as well as having oversight of the process, and being informed of the response to a report of sexual harassment.
In many cases, if a third party makes a report of sexual harassment, the responding organisation will need to make contact directly with the person affected in order to pursue the matter. Third parties can contact the above organisations to have a discussion about the process for reporting and responding to sexual harassment, without providing any details of the specific incident.
There are also dedicated programs to specifically support women, men, and people who are LGBTQIA+, young, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, migrants or refugees who are affected by sexual harassment.
The Victims of Crime Helpline offers information, advice and support and is the first step for victims of crime to access free services in Victoria. You can call the helpline on 1800 819 817 or text 0427 767 891.
VALS provides free legal advice and representation for the Aboriginal community, when the sexual harassment forms part of a number of issues with an employer. You can call them anytime on 1800 064 865.