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White Ribbon welcomes the AHRC Inquiry into Workplace Sexual Harassment

World’s first inquiry into sexual harassment in Australian workplaces has to happen

White Ribbon Australia CEO, Libby Davies, has welcomed today’s announcement of a world-first Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces by Australian Human Rights Commissioner, Kate Jenkins, and Minister for Women, Kelly O’Dwyer, saying it is the necessary response to the revelations which triggered the #MeToo movement.

“With one in five women (1) experiencing harassment within Australian workplaces, it is well past time for our country to investigate the true extent of harassment, and to look to the evidence-based solutions that are showing positive organisational culture change,” said CEO, Libby Davies.

“Violence against women is a workplace issue affecting the health, safety and wellbeing of employees, organisational culture and reputation, and the bottom line.

Research into employees and employer attitudes to workplace culture change reports 94 per cent (2) of employees agree that employers should take a leadership role in educating their workplace about respectful relationships between men and women.

“It is up to managers and leaders to turn this around and create safe environments and foster positive and healthy working relationships between men and women,” Ms Davies added.

“We are pleased that the Commission’s Inquiry will examine the prevalence of incidences, take evidence from women across the country, and also use the opportunity to examine what approaches are effectively delivering the necessary changes.”

The White Ribbon Australia Workplace Accreditation Program is a world’s first violence prevention initiative focused on providing organisations with a comprehensive set of tools and strategies to actively prevent and effectively respond to men’s violence against women. Workplaces that complete the program become White Ribbon Workplaces. Accreditation is for three years. Since its commencement in 2012 there have been more than 170 accredited workplaces and the program has reached 600,000 people.

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For media enquiries, please contact Irina Kamychnikova on 0426 221 550

The White Ribbon campaign is the largest global social movement to stop violence against women. It engages and enables men and boys to lead this social change. In Australia, White Ribbon is an organisation that works to prevent violence by changing the attitudes and behaviours that support men’s violence against women and gender inequality. The prevention work is driven through social marketing, the Ambassador Program and prevention initiatives across communities, in schools, workplaces, universities and sporting codes.

  • One in three women experience physical and/or sexual violence perpetrated by someone known to them. (3)
  • One in five women experience harassment within the workplace. (4)
  • 94% of employees agree employers should take a leadership role in educating their workplace about respectful relationships between men and women. (5)
  • In a recent survey, 48% of respondents who had experienced domestic violence disclosed it to a manager or supervisor, and only 10% found their response helpful. (6)
  • Disclosure is often a traumatic experience for victims of violence, but it can also be a stressful time for supervisors receiving the disclosure. Training and support is critical.
  • The Australian Government estimates that domestic violence costs the business and corporate sector about $1.5 billion per annum. The direct cost to employers in terms of staff absenteeism, lost productivity replacement staff costs and misused workplace resources is estimated to cost $465 million per annum. (7)
  • Most workplaces will employ current, former or potential perpetrators and victims of domestic violence, using workplace practices to educate, deter and support in a structured social setting is critical.
  • Of those who reported experiencing family violence: nearly half the respondents reported that the violence affected their capacity to get to work—the major reason being physical injury or restraint; and in the last 12 months, 19% reported that family violence continued in the workplace, with 12% indicating it occurred in the form of abusive phone calls and emails, and 11% stating that it occurred by way of the violent person attending the workplace. (8)

(1) Australian Human Rights Commission (2008). Sexual Harassment Guide. Retrieved from: http://bit.ly/1upBypH © White Ribbon Australia 2014
(2) Pennay, D & Powell, A. (2012). The role of bystander knowledge, attitudes and behaviours in preventing violence against women: A full technical report. The Social Research Centre. Melbourne.
(3) Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2013). Personal Safety, Australia, 2012, cat. no. 4906.0. Retrieved from: http://bit.ly/1kK5e0I © White Ribbon Australia 2014
(4) Australian Human Rights Commission (2008). Sexual Harassment Guide. Retrieved from: http://bit.ly/1upBypH © White Ribbon Australia 2014
(5) Pennay, D. & Powell, A. (2012). The role of bystander knowledge, attitudes and behaviours in preventing violence against women: A full technical report. The Social Research Centre. Melbourne. Retrieved from: http://bit.ly/1osZjYt © White Ribbon Australia 2014
(6) McFerran, L. (2011). Safe at Home, Safe at Work? National Domestic violence and the workplace survey. Australian Domestic and Family Violence Clearinghouse. Retrieved from: https://www.arts.unsw.edu.au/media/FASSFile/National_Domestic_Violence_and_the_Workplace_Su rvey_2011_Full_Report.pdf p. 13.
(7) National Council to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children (2009). The cost of violence against women and their children. 8 ADFVC, ADFVC National Domestic Violence and the Workplace Survey (2011).
(8) ADFVC, ADFVC National Domestic Violence and the Workplace Survey (2011).

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