The Greens welcome the introduction of the Australian Human Rights Commission Amendment (Costs Protection) Bill 2023 today, which would implement the Government’s revised response to Recommendation 25 of the Respect@Work report.
The modified ‘equal access’ cost protection provision put forward in this bill is one the Greens and many advocates were calling for last year, and will ensure that no-one is priced out of fighting sexual harassment in the workplace.
Lines attributable to Greens leader in the Senate and spokesperson on women Senator Larissa Waters:
“We are pleased that the revised government bill introduced today heeds the calls of advocates, victim-survivors, legal experts and unions, the Greens and the crossbench, for equal access costs protections.
“The Greens pressured the Government a year ago to dump their original costs provisions, and to review and reconsider them. We are so pleased to see that after this reflection, the government has now proposed the costs model the Greens were advocating for, which removes costs risks for people standing up for their rights at work.
“The Greens are proud to have kept the pressure up to ensure that no-one is priced out of fighting for their rights at work, whether that be for sexual harassment or any other type of discrimination.
“Without an equal access cost model in place, many workers, particularly women, weigh up the trauma and financial risk and decide to stay silent. Providing more options for victims of sexual harassment to make complaints doesn’t change things if women cannot afford to make complaints.
“Equal access costs protections, where workers can take action without fear of paying the other side’s costs if they lose, already exist for whistleblowers. The Greens are happy to support changes that will see these same protections applied to workplace harassment.”