Australian women who have been sexually harassed at work will be empowered to help create positive change on a national scale.
A national inquiry into sexual harassment in Australian workplaces will today be announced by Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins and Minister for Women Kelly O’Dwyer.
Commissioner Jenkins described the national inquiry as a “huge step in the right direction” for creating a society where sexual harassment is “unthinkable”.
She confirmed the inquiry is on the back of a global conversation about sexual harassment and the #MeToo movement, which exposed the true prevalence of the problem that until last year was largely left hidden.
The national inquiry – which to the Australian Human Rights Commission’s knowledge is the first of its kind internationally – will involve an in-depth examination of sexual harassment in the workplace, nationwide consultation and extensive research, Commissioner Jenkins explained.
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“Importantly, the inquiry will provide employees, employers and all members of the public with an opportunity to participate in developing a solution to ensure Australian workplaces are safe and respectful for everyone,” she said.
Harvey Weinstein’s exposure as an alleged sexual predator in October 2017 sparked a series of accusations against high-profile celebrities and people in the media, both in the US and in Australia.
But a criticism of the movement has been that it hasn’t created any real change for women who are harassed or abused by colleagues or bosses who are not famous or in high-profile positions.
Commissioner Jenkins said the inquiry aims to help stamp out sexual harassment in all its forms.
“We need to continue working to create a society where this kind of conduct is unthinkable, and where sexual harassment at work is not something people simply have to put up with.