What can you do?

What you can do about sexual harassment

The world is waking up to the scale of sexual harassment and abuse. However, this clarity is not repeated around the globe or even across the Asia-Pacific region. We must work together so that all women and girls can live a life free from violence. This is particularly important in communities where women are living in or close to poverty and are even more vulnerable to abuse.

What is sexual harassment in the workplace? A clear definition.

The Australian law is clear on what constitutes sexual harassment in the workplace.  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.’

 Unfortunately, many women and girls around the world are especially vulnerable to these types of behaviours because their countries lack sufficient labour laws. They are the people who need our support the most.

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.

What can you do to take action?

Support a new global agreement to address sexual harassment in the workplace so that women everywhere can have their rights and protections from harassment enshrined in their country’s laws. 

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 throughout Australia.

Anyone affected by domestic abuse or other forms of gender-based violence can contact 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) to talk to a counsellor.

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