In the wake of a spate of high profile sexual assault and harassment allegations in recent weeks, the federal government has announced it will implement a suite of anti-harassment reforms in response to the Sex Discrimination Commissioner’s landmark Respect@Work national inquiry report, which was released in March 2020.
The Respect@Work inquiry found that Australia’s current legal and regulatory system for addressing workplace sexual harassment is “complex and confusing” for workers and employers. For example, the report highlighted that the complaints mechanisms for reporting sexual harassment are widely considered difficult to navigate. Last week the federal government published its long-awaited response to the Commissioner’s report. In agreeing (in full, in part or in principle) or noting the Commissioner’s 55 recommendations, the government has confirmed it will introduce legislative amendments designed to simplify and strengthen the national legal framework for combating sexual harassment at work (though the definition of harassment itself remains unchanged).