Some types of behaviour are considered especially inappropriate not only because of the effect on the victim, but the underlying attitudes of the perpetrators which give rise to such behaviours.
If a person is made to feel uncomfortable, unsafe, threatened, ashamed, inferior, excluded, embarrassed or humiliated because of their sex, gender, sexual orientation, or because they do not adhere to dominant gender stereotypes or socially prescribed gender role, this is considered gendered violence.
This can include:
- Verbal abuse
- Rude gestures
- Offensive language and imagery
- Sexual harassment
- Physical assault including sexual assault and rape
- Put downs, innuendo and insinuations
- Ostracism and exclusion
- Being undermined in your work or position
Here's a poster for HSRs to display in their workplaces to help them and their workmates identify workplace gendered violence. Click to download:
To help HSRs and workers better understand the risk of gendered violence in their workplaces, the Women's Team and the OHS Team at Trades Hall have developed the risk assessment tools below. They address the three areas which are likely to give rise to gendered violence risks: environment, work design and policies.
Click on the one you want to download to view the full PDF.
Gendered Violence and OHS
Section 21 of the OHS Act (2004) states that: "An employer must, so far as is reasonably practicable, provide and maintain for employees of the employer a working environment that is safe and without risks to health."
A workplace in which gendered violence is causing physical, sexual or psychological harm to a worker is clearly in breach of this. This locates the issue within an OHS framework, and therefore it can be dealt with like any other OHS issue.
If you're an elected HSR or deputy HSR, you can now enrol to do a specific Refresher course (on paid leave as it is an accredited course under s67 of the OHS Act). To find out more about the Work-related gendered violence course, go to this Megaphone article: Knowledge is power in fight against gendered violence
More information, including a great video, go to this site.
WorkSafe Victoria guidelines
In March 2020, new guidelines were launched by Jill Hennessy, Minister for Workplace Safety, regarding eradicating gendered violence in the workplace. The guidance provides information on identifying, preventing and responding to gendered violence in the workplace, which can range from comments and gestures through to sexual assault and rape.
Read more: Victorian government media release.
Work-related gendered violence including sexual harassment: A guide for employers on preventing and responding to work-related gendered violence and work-related sexual harassment. Also from WorkSafe:
- Work-related sexual harassment: Know your responsibilities - Employers have a responsibility to prevent work-related sexual harassment
- Work-related sexual harassment - Know your rights. Resources to help employees that have experienced or witnessed work-related sexual harassment.
In March 2021, the Victorian government announced the establishment of a Ministerial Taskforce on Workplace Sexual Harassment to develop reforms to prevent and better respond to sexual harassment in workplaces. A key initiative of this reform program will be consultation on a mandatory incident notification scheme that would require employers to notify WorkSafe of workplace sexual harassment. At the same time, WorkSafe Victoria launched a media campaign, Let's Be Very Clear (about workplace sexual harassment). Victorian Government media release. WorkSafe media release. Read more here
From Safe Work Australia
In March 2021, Comcare released workplace sexual harassment guidance to support employers, managers and supervisors, and workers with a focus on prevention, impacts and reporting.
The guidance includes:
- Regulatory guidance for employers on their work health and safety responsibilities
- Workplace sexual harassment: Practical guidance for employers
- Workplace sexual harassment: Practical guidance for managers and supervisors
- Workplace sexual harassment: Practical guidance for workers
The guidance was developed in collaboration with the Australian Human Rights Commission and should be read in conjunction with the national guidance from Safe Work Australia.
Employers must do what is reasonably practicable to manage the risk of workplace sexual harassment as part of their duties under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011. A workplace culture with a strong focus on prevention and early intervention is critical to influencing positive change.