Change the culture, change the system – end sexual harassment at work

Change the culture, change the system – end sexual harassment at work

Change the culture, change the system

Our Equality Law program provides advice and representation to clients who experience sexual harassment. Our clients tell us that the system is failing to stop sexual harassment occurring and meaningfully address it when it does. We’ve been working with other stakeholders across diverse sectors, to make recommendations to the Australian Human Rights Commission’s (AHRC) national inquiry into sexual harassment

Victoria Legal Aid’s (VLA's) submission to the AHRC is informed by our clients’ stories. These stories illustrate the systemic failures of our laws, culture and complaints systems to prevent sexual harassment.

Key recommendations

  • Invest in dedicated primary prevention efforts to address the underlying drivers of sexual harassment. These efforts should be part of a holistic strategy to prevent violence against women and promote gender equality in line with Change the story: A shared framework for the prevention of violence against women and their children in Australia.
  • Work health and safety laws in all jurisdictions should be amended to create an effective framework to prevent and address sexual harassment.
  • Commonwealth, state and territory work health and safety agencies should be resourced, empowered and trained to effectively address sexual harassment.
  • Commonwealth, state and territory anti-discrimination laws should impose an enforceable positive duty on employers to prevent sexual harassment.
  • Human rights commissions in all jurisdictions should be granted increased powers and resources to effectively address sexual harassment.
  • A series of reforms are required to provide fairer and more accessible complaint systems (this includes proposed reforms in relation to burden of proof, time limits for bringing complaints and costs orders under anti-discrimination legislation). 
  • Specialist support services should be funded to assist people who have experienced sexual harassment.

The Power to Prevent coalition

We have also been coordinating a coalition of over 100 stakeholders in the legal, health, community, family violence and union sectors to advocate for key reforms. Together we have submitted a joint statement to the AHRC inquiry. #Power2Prevent

More information

For more information about our work in this area, please contact VLA's Equality Law Program Manager Melanie Schleiger by emailing melanie.schleiger@vla.vic.gov.au or calling (03) 9269 0416.

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