Understanding workplace sexual harassment

Workplace Sexual Harassment is a silent epidemic – not only in Australia, but across the globe.

To understand the prevalence of Workplace Sexual Harassment in WA and Australia, the Centre for Social Impact at The University of Western Australia (CSI UWA) has partnered with Circle Green Community Legal and undertaken new research to help identify legal need priorities related to workplace sexual harassment and discrimination in Australia.

Circle Green is the lead agency delivering the Workplace Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Legal Services Project (referred to as “the Workplace Respect Project”) in Western Australia.

In its new report, Understanding workplace sexual harassment: Trends, barriers to legal assistance, consequences, and legal need, the Centre for Social Impact UWA builds on existing literature on workplace sexual harassment, as well as interviews conducted with community legal centres and other stakeholder organisations, and people with lived experience of workplace sexual harassment, to identify and understand its prevalence, nature, and occurrence in WA.

The new report includes findings across a broad range of topics, including:

  • WA workplace sexual harassment legislation
  • reporting workplace sexual harassment
  • employer responses to workplace sexual harassment
  • barriers to seeking legal assistance

The report offers recommendations for workplaces, employees and organisations providing legal assistance. The recommendations are centred around:

  • prevention and positive organisational cultural change
  • promoting a workplace structure based on acceptance and equality
  • reducing workforce and legal assistance barriers for those experiencing WSH

This research has informed activities and programs being run by Circle Green. In the next stage of the partnership with Circle Green, CSI UWA will be measuring the impact of their activities and programs with the aim of:

  1. People in WA having the knowledge of what constitutes appropriate behaviour in the workplace
  2. Confidence that there are effective processes in place to provide workplaces free from sexual harassment, and
  3. Confidence that they can act to address inappropriate behaviour and can access suitable support to address sexual harassment should they need it