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Sexual harassment resources

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VLSB+C Guide for People Experiencing Sexual Harassment

We have developed a resource that provides information about what you might consider doing if you are experiencing sexual harassment, including at the time of an incident and immediately afterwards. Find out about options for reporting sexual harassment, including the various pathways and potential outcomes.

Access our experiencing sexual harassment resource.

VLSB+C Guide for Witnesses to Sexual Harassment

Access a guide providing information about what you might consider doing if you witness or hear about sexual harassment in legal workplaces. It covers actions that bystanders can take to respond to sexual harassment.

Access our witnessing sexual harassment resource.

Australian Human Rights Commission guidance on the positive duty to eliminate workplace sexual harassment

Since 12 December 2023, organisations and businesses have been required to take reasonable and proportionate measures to eliminate workplace sexual harassment, sex discrimination, hostile work environments and victimisation as far as possible, pursuant to the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (C’th).

The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has developed a suite of practical guidance materials to help organisations and businesses to understand their responsibilities and the changes they may need to make to satisfy the positive duty.  The most comprehensive legal resource on the positive duty are the Guidelines for Complying with the Positive Duty (2023), which provide examples of practical actions that organisations and businesses can take as well as detailed information about: what the positive duty is and who must meet it; what it means to take ‘reasonable and proportionate measures’; and how the positive duty will be enforced.

The Guidelines also set out seven standards and examples of practical actions outlining what the AHRC expects organisations and business to do to satisfy the positive duty. Those standards are:

  1. Leadership
  2. Culture
  3. Knowledge
  4. Risk management
  5. Support
  6. Reporting and response
  7. Monitoring, evaluation and transparency

The AHRC has also published A Resource for Small Business on the Positive Duty (2023) to provide more targeted information for the small business community about the new positive duty, which may be of particular assistance to smaller law practices.

VEOHRC sexual harassment guideline for employers

Businesses in Victoria have had a ‘positive duty’ to combine both prevention and response measures in their approach to managing sexual harassment since the commencement of the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic).

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission's 2020 Guideline: Preventing and responding to workplace sexual harassment provides practical, easy-to-implement advice for employers to help them comply with their legal obligation to keep every employee safe from sexual harassment.

VEOHRC has identified six minimum standards that Victorian employers must meet to comply with their positive duty to eliminate sexual harassment. These include steps to prevent sexual harassment, as well as appropriately responding to sexual harassment when it does occur. 

These standards are: 

  • Knowledge Employers understand their obligations under the Equal Opportunity Act and have up-to-date knowledge about workplace sexual harassment. 
  • Prevention plan Sexual harassment is prevented through the development and implementation of an effective sexual harassment prevention plan. 
  • Organisational capability Leaders drive a culture of respect by building organisational capability.
  • Risk management Employers have built a culture of safety and address risk regularly. 
  • Reporting and response Sexual harassment is addressed consistently and confidentially to hold harassers to account, and responses put the victim-survivor at the centre. 
  • Monitoring and evaluation Outcomes and strategies are regularly reviewed, evaluated and improved.

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.

As the authoritative and comprehensive resource on Victoria’s positive duty for employers and workplace sexual harassment, this guideline may be considered in judicial proceedings when deciding whether employers have complied with the law.

Support and response tool

Also available is an innovative online Sexual harassment support and response tool. This free and confidential interactive chat tool guides employers, people who have experienced sexual harassment, and bystanders through information about sexual harassment and their rights and responsibilities, if they encounter sexual harassment at work.

Source: Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission

WorkSafe guide for employers on sexual harassment

Work-related gendered violence, including sexual harassment, is a serious occupational health and safety issue. The WorkSafe guide is intended to help employers prevent and respond to work-related gendered violence.

Sexual harassment is a common and known cause of physical and mental injury. Where there is a risk of work-related sexual harassment causing physical or mental injury, employers have an obligation under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic) to control that risk. This obligation is in addition to the obligation of employers under the Equal Opportunity Act and the Sex Disccrimination Act 1984 (Cth).

Those with management and control of a workplace must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the workplace is safe and without risks to health.

You can download a copy of the guide from WorkSafe’s website. For more information, see Gendered Violence: WorkSafe Victoria.

Law Council of Australia - National Model Framework Addressing Sexual Harassment for the Australian Legal Profession

The LCA's Model Framework was developed as a guidance material to assist the profession to proactively prevent and respond to sexual harassment.

Legal workplaces can adopt it in its entirety or use it, along with a helpful checklist, to augment or refine existing policies.

You can download the Model Framework on the LCA website.

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