"Get on your knees": Sam Newman's treatment of Rebecca Maddern labelled "workplace harassment".

Before she even made her debut on The Footy Show in April, Rebecca Maddern was putting up with jibes from her soon-to-be co-host Sam Newman.

The 70-year-old quipped that she was “plumpish” and “not good looking”. But their first on air meeting set the tone for how the relationship would play out on screen: Newman would make the same tired jokes he’s been making for years and Maddern would somehow ignore him and get on with her job.

And she has too, for months now.

The 39-year-old barely blinks at comments like “come get on your knees” or being told “lie nude” across the panel table — remarks the Herald Sun notes he has made on the show.

Source: Instagram.

But while Maddern clearly has a thick skin, Victoria's top domestic violence advocate has labelled the treatment "workplace harassment".

"This actually constitutes workplace harassment and could even be unlawful," Domestic Violence Victoria chief executive Fiona McCormack told the Herald Sun.

"Some men kid themselves that women want the attention and will be flattered but so many women are put in these awkward situations at work and worry that if they speak up, there’ll be a backlash."

Maddern has dismissed her colleague's behaviour and, for the most part, things seem fairly jovial between them.

"Sam will always be Sam", she told the Herald Sun, adding that even when he says something "in wrong town" she prefers to just get on with things.

"We are there to talk about footy," she said.

"If there was an absolute moment on the show that I felt like I needed to say something I absolutely would address it then and there."


Sam Newman is no stranger to on air controversy. Source: Instagram

But McCormack claims, regardless of how good their working relationship might be, Channel Nine has a responsibility to ensure a respectful, equal workplace for all its employees.

"Why aren’t they calling this out? Where are the producers?" she said.

"If we’re really serious about stopping violence against women in Australia, we need to challenge the culture that allows it to flourish."

Her sentiments are echoed broadly in the national dialogue around domestic violence.

Rebecca Maddern and Sam Newman (Images via Instagram/aflfootyshow)

White Ribbon explain on their website:

"Sexist jokes and language help create a climate where forms of violence and abuse have too long been accepted.

"Words that degrade women reflect a society that has historically placed women in a second class position."

Newman rejected McCormack's argument however and told the Herald Sun his comments — for example telling his female co-host "you could be under me"or that she "makes me very excited" — should be considered in context.

"It’s about intent," he told the Herald Sun.

For her part, Maddern clearly knew what she was getting into when she took the job and has said so, multiple times.

Regardless, it can't be easy for her.