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Australian law

In Australia, the Sex Discrimination Act defines sexual harassment as “any unwelcome sexual behaviour, where a reasonable person would have anticipated the possibility the person being harassed would be offended, humiliated or intimidated.”

Sexual harassment is any unwelcome or uninvited sexual behaviour likely to offend, humiliate or intimidate.

Examples include:

  • Unwelcome physical touching
  • Staring or leering
  • Suggestive comments or jokes
  • Unwanted requests to go out on dates
  • Requests for sex
  • Emailing pornography or rude jokes
  • Sending sexually explicit texts, messages or emails
  • Intrusive questions about your private life or body
  • Displaying posters, magazines or screen savers of a sexual nature.

Under Australian law all work-related activities – including applying for a job, being in a workplace, or at training courses or conference, and interaction with customers – are included when considering sexual harassment in the workplace.

Where can you get help?

If you have experienced sexual harassment in your workplace, or you have observed sexual harassment and want to do something about it, there are a number of confidential support services available in Australia.

Anyone affected by gender-based violence, including in homes or workplaces, can contact 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) to talk to a counsellor.

You can also contact the Australian Human Rights Commission or the anti-discrimination tribunal in your State or Territory to find out how to make a complaint.