Greater respect for women needed

HOGSBACK is appalled by sexual harassment in the workplace so he was shocked to see the inappropriate behaviour going on in our nation’s capital.
Greater respect for women needed Greater respect for women needed Greater respect for women needed Greater respect for women needed Greater respect for women needed

Workplace harassment of this kind poses a health and safety risk.

The elected and unelected officials that walk through hallowed halls of Parliament House are meant to show leadership to the rest of the country.

However, the media has shone the spotlight on the lack of basic human respect demonstrated in Canberra.

Unfortunately, the mining industry is not exempt from sexual harassment and bullying either.

The Australian Human Rights Commission's Respect@Work: Sexual Harassment National Inquiry has found 40% of the minerals industry workforce experienced some form of sexual harassment in the past five years, with women more than twice as likely as men to be sexually harassed.

Everyone knows the mining industry is male-dominated, however, that is no excuse for such a level of unacceptable behaviour.

Workplace harassment of this kind poses a health and safety risk because it can lead to mental health issues and it breaks down the communication and trust between employees needed to focus on maintaining safety standards.

Minerals Council of Australia CEO Tania Constable said safety was the core value of the Australian minerals industry and a safe and fair workplace was essential.

"The Safe, Healthy and Respectful Workplaces policy is focused on building and sustaining respectful workplaces, and, combined with the industry's commitment to eliminating sexual harassment - endorsed by the MCA Board - will ensure Australian mining companies can work together to end unacceptable and illegal behaviour," she said.

"Our workers are our greatest asset and must be valued, respected and protected."

Following the release of Commissioner Jenkins' report, the MCA established a Respect@Work Taskforce to broaden its safety and health policy and develop a commitment to eliminating sexual harassment.

The industry's commitment will be implemented through an industry code and toolkit, to be released soon, to establish clear expectations and protocols on preventing and responding to sexual harassment in mining workplaces.

Amendments proposed to the Sex Discrimination Act and Fair Work Act will also allow for meaningful change to take place.

According to Constable, tougher penalties, new dismissal laws and extending the lifespan of sexual harassment complaints will clamp down on this abhorrent behaviour and make workplaces safer for everyone.

This is a good start but the journey to safe places of work for women on mine sites is a long one.

Hogsback believes there needs to cultural change and a commitment to greater opportunity and promotion for women in the mining industry to ensure respect is maintained in the workplace.