Jenny Aitchison is calling on the NSW Government to encourage its agencies and staff to participate in the National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces.

Kate Jenkins, Australia’s Sex Discrimination Commissioner recently announced a national inquiry into sexual harassment in Australian workplaces and submissions for the National Inquiry opened yesterday.

The inquiry will follow on from the emergence of the #MeToo movement that has shone the light on sexual harassment and signifies the beginning of the end of a culture which both permits inappropriate behaviours in the workplace and prevents victims from speaking out.

Recent figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2016 Personal Safety Survey (PSS) reported 53 per cent of women surveyed and 22 per cent of men had experienced sexual harassment during their lifetime (in any context, including work). It also found one in six women and one in eleven men had experienced one or more form of sexual harassment behaviour by a person within the last 12 months.

Based on the information provided in the 2016 Personal Safety Survey, we know that NSW is on par with the National Average that indicates 53 per cent of women in NSW have experienced sexual harassment. We also know, reports on crime do not reflect similar figures in relation to reporting of sexual harassment.

A focus of the inquiry will be to look at how people are using technology and social media to perpetrate sexual harassment in the workplace.

Quotes attributable to Labor Leader in the Legislative Council and Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations Adam Searle

“The NSW Government has a responsibility to lead the way for employers and support and encourage their workers to report incidences of sexual harassment. All employers should similarly encourage their workers to do so.

“We spend so much of our waking hours in a working environment. It is critical all employees feel safe in the workplace. The prevalence of violence against women in our society remains unacceptable, including from sexual harassment at work. This inquiry is a wakeup call for all of us to redouble our efforts to combat this scourge.”

Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, Jenny Aitchison

“Governments have a role to play in building a respectful society, where everyone is safe from harassment.

“I encourage everyone to speak out against sexual assault and sexual harassment. Your courage will provide a safer path for others in the future.

“We know that technology has blurred the line between work and recreation so this inquiry is a unique opportunity to explore if there are other downsides like workplace sexual harassment.

“I agree with Commissioner Jenkins - sexual harassment isn’t inevitable, it isn’t acceptable and it is preventable.”

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