Stronger measures needed to create safe workplaces for women


The Greens will move for stronger measures in the Anti-Discrimination and Human Rights Legislation Amendment (Respect at Work) Bill to protect complainants from costs risks, strengthen reporting and enforcement, and create safe workplaces for everyone.

Lines attributable to Greens leader in the Senate and spokesperson on women Senator Larissa Waters:

“We are pleased to see outstanding Respect@Work report recommendations being implemented, but urge the government to listen to experts and support amendments that will strengthen the Bill and create safe workplaces for all. 

“A positive duty on employers to maintain a safe workplace was at the centre of the Respect@Work report. The adversarial ‘victim complaint’ approach has failed so many people, so putting the onus on employers is a critical step in changing that. 

“If employers are serious about making workplaces safer, they need to consult staff about particular risks in their workplace and what should be done to address them. They need to report on the actions they take, and they need to regularly review whether those actions are actually working. Anything less is just lip service.

“Financial risks remain a significant barrier to workers making complaints. Many workers, particularly women, weigh up the trauma and financial risk and decide to stay silent. The Greens will move amendments to ensure complainants are protected from costs risks and can get justice. 

“Workplace sexual harassment is compounded by age, sexual orientation, race and disability. We welcome moves to prohibit conduct that creates a hostile work environment, but the Bill should protect against all discrimination and abuse at work. No workplace should foster, encourage or ignore a culture that allows harassment. 

“All the good intentions of the Bill will be undermined unless the Australian Human Rights Commission and Working Women’s Centres are funded to support education, advice and enforcement. Recent Budget commitments are a good first step, but more must be done to ensure the Commission has the resources needed to drive cultural change.
“This Bill presents a generational opportunity to change workplace culture. The Greens will move amendments to strengthen the Anti-Discrimination and Human Rights Legislation Amendment (Respect at Work) Bill, and call on the government to support those changes. Let’s get this right so all workers can be safe.”

The tabled report can be found here