The Australian Human Rights Commission's new powers to enforce workplace regulations focusing on eradicating sexual harassment and discrimination took effect on Tuesday of this week.
These powers allow the Commission to investigate and ensure compliance with laws mandating employers to actively prevent harassment and discrimination under the Sex Discrimination Act.
The Commission says it will adopt a selective approach, targeting high-impact cases for cultural change.
It aims to support businesses with voluntary compliance and offer recommendations for improvement. These changes stem from the Respect@Work report's key recommendation and will be overseen by the Commission's new leader, Dr. Anna Cody.
The Act mandates employers take reasonable measures to eliminate unlawful conduct and grants the AHRC powers to conduct inquiries, issue compliance notices, and engage in court action if necessary.
Moreover, workplaces are encouraged to proactively prevent misconduct, fostering a respectful and inclusive culture. The goal is to create safer and more equitable work environments, shifting the focus from reacting to incidents to actively preventing them.
Recent legislation also aims to protect workers raising harassment claims from facing excessive costs in most situations.