Has the #METOO movement had an impact in Australia?

What impact has the #METOO movement had in Australia?

In the wake of movements like #MeToo, and sexual misconduct allegations such as those bought against disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein, the Australian Human Rights Commission has released a national report regarding  sexual misconduct in the workplace.

Everyone’s Business was a report released by the Australian government this month investigating workplace harassment and outlines the nature, frequency and reporting of sexual harassment in the workplace. This year 10,000 women were surveyed for the report between the ages of 15-65, and it examines the kinds of harassment women experience throughout their life time. Key findings released from the report indicate that 71% of Australians will be sexually harassed during their lifetime. The most common forms of harassment identified within the report include:  offensive and sexually suggestive comments/ jokes, inappropriate physical contact and unwelcome advances.

The report reveals that 23% of women will have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace within the last 12 months, with the target age group for women been 18 to 29 years old. It was also found that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are more likely to experience harassment than any other group within the survey leading to questions of racial prejudice and discrimination.

Leah Marrone, the President for the Women Lawyers Association of South Australia argues that ‘senior people including women have been discouraging of people coming forward … it’s basically a culture of victim blaming.’  This culture is exemplified by the Re-Engagement survey that was released by the Law Council of Australia in 2013 which reported that almost one in four female lawyers had experienced sexual harassment.

The #MeToo movement provided a successful forum to begin discussions regarding the issues and ethics of workplace harassment and has had many far reaching effects within the workplace. This movement has encouraged both men and women  to speak up against sexual harassment regardless of whether they are witness to or subject to the act itself.

Although this is a positive and empowering movement, the effects of this movement should also  prompt a review of your company’s current workplace policies and procedures to ensure you are providing your staff with the best possible protections and outcomes.

For more information please contact us on Ph: (02) 8325 1520.