In what is reported to be a “world first”, the Australian Human Rights Commission last week announced a national inquiry into sexual harassment in Australian workplaces.

The Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins said the global conversation about sexual harassment and the #MeToo movement has exposed the true prevalence of the problem and the harm it causes to individuals, workplaces and society.

“The National Inquiry will involve an in-depth examination of sexual harassment in the workplace, nation-wide consultation and extensive research. Importantly, the Inquiry will provide employees, employers and all members of the public with an opportunity to participate in developing a solution to ensure Australian workplaces are safe and respectful for everyone,” Commissioner Jenkins said.

The Inquiry is supported by the Australian Government, which will contribute $500,000 towards the $900,000 inquiry.

“No one should have to suffer sexual harassment at work, or in any other part of their lives,” Minister for Women, the Hon Kelly O’Dwyer MP said.

“We already know that the personal and career consequences of workplace sexual harassment are very significant. The organisational impacts are also substantial, including reduced productivity, high staff turnover, absenteeism, compensation claims and early retirement.”

“The Inquiry will draw on economic modelling so we will have a better sense of how much it is costing individual Australians as well as Australian businesses.”

Commissioner Jenkins said there is an appetite for change and a growing realisation that sexual harassment is not inevitable. It is unacceptable and it is preventable.

AMMA is aware of many positive initiatives by employers in the resources and energy industry to address this issue, and welcomes any recommendations from the Inquiry in relation to best practice strategies to further promote safe and respectful workplaces.

The Inquiry will run for 12 months. AMMA will provide further details on the Inquiry as they are announced.

For further information on how the inquiry could affect members, see the terms of reference and/or contact [email protected].