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National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces

  • Terms of Reference

    The National Inquiry is being conducted pursuant to sections 11(1)(a), 11(1)(e), 11(1)(f), 11(1)(g), 11(1)(j), 11(1)(k) and 11(1)(p) of the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (Cth).

    The National Inquiry will review and report on:

    • a national survey of the prevalence, nature and reporting of sexual harassment in Australian workplaces, by sector
    • online workplace-related sexual and sex-based harassment and the use of technology and social media to perpetrate workplace-related sexual and sex-based harassment
    • the use of technology and social media to identify both alleged victims and perpetrators of workplace-related sexual harassment
    • the drivers of workplace sexual harassment, including whether:
      • some individuals are more likely to experience sexual harassment due to particular characteristics including gender, age, sexual orientation, culturally or linguistically diverse background, Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander status or disability

      • some workplace characteristics and practices are more likely to increase the risk of sexual harassment
    • the current legal framework with respect to sexual harassment
    • existing measures and good practice being undertaken by employers in preventing and responding to workplace sexual harassment, both domestically and internationally the impacts on individuals and business of sexual harassment, such as mental health, and the economic impacts such as workers compensation claims, employee turnover and absenteeism, and
    • recommendations to address sexual harassment in Australian workplaces.

    In conducting the National Inquiry the Commission will have regard to the economic impact of sexual harassment in the workplace, drawing on economic modelling.

    Additionally, three years after the release of the National Inquiry report (the Report), the Australian Human Rights Commission will:

    • conduct an assessment of any changes in the prevalence, nature and reporting of sexual harassment in Australian workplaces since the National Inquiry, and
    • make any further recommendations necessary to address sexual harassment in the workplace.

    The National Inquiry is being conducted pursuant to the Commission’s functions under the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (Cth). The focus of the inquiry is on the nature and prevalence of sexual harassment in Australian workplaces, the drivers of this harassment and measures to address sexual harassment in Australian workplaces. The Commission’s focus will be these systemic issues, and for this reason the Commission will not be investigating or making findings about individual allegations of sexual harassment as part of the inquiry.

  • Individual complaints and getting support

    Individual complaints 

    The focus of the inquiry is on the nature and prevalence of sexual harassment in Australian workplaces, the drivers of this harassment and measures to address sexual harassment in Australian workplaces.

    The Commission will not be investigating or making findings about individual allegations of sexual harassment as part of the Inquiry.

    The Commission’s National Information Service can assist individuals seeking information on discrimination, human rights and sexual harassment.

    The Commission’s National Information Service can be contacted at infoservice@humanrights.gov.au or 1300 656 419

    Getting support

    If you have experienced sexual assault or sexual harassment and feel you would like to speak to someone for support or information, 1800RESPECT (Phone: 1800 737 732) can provide counselling 24-hours a day, 7 days a week.

    Details of the sexual assault support services in each state and territory can be found here.

    If you are feeling unsafe right now, call 000.