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Winning Respect@Work

On Monday 9 August, the ACTU provided a briefing regarding the Respect@ Work Bill.  Unionists have been called to action. 


Every day unions support members who have been sexually harassed at work.

According to the Australian Unions survey undertaken in 2018, two in three women and one in three men have experienced sexual harassment.

There is a plan to make work safer, especially for women. The landmark Australian Human Rights Commission Respect@Work report has 55 recommendations to create stronger rights to eliminate sexual harassment. 

The Federal Government sat on this report for over a year before it was forced to act .

It now has a Bill before the Parliament, cherry-picking some recommendations but ignoring the very ones that would make the biggest contribution to ensuring women are safe at work. 

The Federal Government will put forward the Respect@ Work Bill to Parliament on Wednesday 11 August. Do not be misled by its title.

This Bill is a watered-down version of what the AHRC report had recommended.

The Bill must be amended to be fit for purpose in four key ways:

  1. Amended so that the Fair Work Act prohibits sexual harassment (then it becomes a workplace right and workers’ also have easy access to justice).
  2. Amended so the Sex Discrimination Act – it to have ‘positive duties’ where employers are legally obligated to prevent harassment in the workplace, not simply deal with complaints.
  3. Amended so the Commissioner can intervene in systemic issues. Sex Discrimination Commissioner can currently only respond to individual complaints; we want the act amended so the Commissioner can intervene in systemic issues.
  4. Amended to have 10 days’ paid family and domestic violence leave included in the NES provisions (currently 5 day’s unpaid leave available).


In order to win these changes IEU members are asked, over the next 48 hour, to put pressure on key Senators and MPs in the area.

IEU members are asked to

  • Find the Politician from your home state listed in the table below.
  • Take a selfie using the attached ACTU selfie sign
  • Message on social media, tagging the identified Politician. (Please be respectful. We are trying to convince people.)
  • Use #wewontwait and share other similar posts as well.

Here are some messages that you might use and improve upon:

  • Dear @Senator Cash – Harassment and violence against women at work is a national crisis. To make women safer at work, implement all of Respect@Work #wewontwait
  • Hi @PaulineHansonOz –Two in five women have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace in the past five years. Half measures won’t deal with this national crisis. Support all of the Respect@Work recommendations #wewontwait
  • Hi @Anne_Ruston – A woman is killed by her intimate partner each week on average. But paid leave can help a woman leave. Support 10 days paid family and domestic violence leave for all women, in the Respect@Work Bill this week #wewontwait

Time’s Up. Australian workers need access to fair, effective and efficient laws which prevent and protect against sexual harassment at work

We need Respect@Work