Businesses in Victoria have a ‘positive duty’ to combine both prevention and response measures in their approach to managing sexual harassment under the Equal Opportunity Act.
The results of our Sexual Harassment in the Victorian Legal Sector report found that sexual harassment is widespread in Victoria’s legal profession, with more than one in three lawyers, and two thirds of women lawyers having experienced sexual harassment at work. Our report also found that a significant number of legal workplaces do not have documented sexual harassment policies, and that specific workplace training and education to prevent sexual harassment is rare.
The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission has released a new edition of their Guideline: Preventing and responding to workplace sexual harassment, which provides practical, easy-to-implement advice for employers to help them comply with their legal obligation to keep every employee safe from sexual harassment.
The guideline includes minimum standards to guide employers’ policies and practices. Together, these standards become a framework for preventing and responding to sexual harassment – a good understanding of sexual harassment and the law, an effective prevention plan, a respectful culture, risk management measures, effective reporting processes, and a strategy to monitor the organisation’s progress.
The guideline also includes a step-by-step guide for dealing with sexual harassment complaints, a risk matrix tool, and a gender equality framework to help employers take action on the underlying issues that drive sexual harassment.
Also available is an online free and confidential interactive chat tool that guides employers, victim-survivors and bystanders through information about sexual harassment and their rights and responsibilities, if they encounter sexual harassment at work.
You can access the resources on the links below.