This report outlines the findings of that survey and compares and contrasts the findings with previous surveys conducted by the Commission in 2003 (2003 National Survey)1 and 2008 (2008 National Survey).2 A number of positive stories have emerged from the 2012 National Survey.
For instance, where formal reports and complaints of sexual harassment in the workplace were made, they were resolved quickly (in less than one month) in most cases and with high or extremely high levels of satisfaction amongst the majority of complainants. In addition, a majority of individuals who have witnessed or subsequently learned about sexual harassment in their workplace (ie bystanders) have taken action to prevent or reduce the harm of the harassment. In taking such action, they have helped to ensure safe work environments for themselves and their colleagues. Overall, however, the 2012 National Survey shows that sexual harassment is a persistent and pervasive problem in Australian workplaces.
It also shows that limited progress has been made since the Commission conducted its 2008 National Survey. It is particularly concerning that there has been little reduction in the prevalence of sexual harassment since the 2008 National Survey. Although sexual harassment affects a diverse range of individuals across a broad spectrum of occupations, workplaces and industries, the 2012 National Survey shows that targets of sexual harassment are most likely to be women and less than 40 years of age. Consistent with previous surveys, the 2012 National Survey also shows that the harassers are most likely to be male co-workers, though women were at least five times more likely than men to have been harassed by a boss or employer.
Men harassing women accounted for more than half (56%) of all sexual harassment, while male harassment of men accounted for nearly a quarter (23%) of sexual harassment. It is also concerning that there has been a significant increase in the number of people who have experienced negative consequences (eg victimisation) as a result of making a formal report or complaint of sexual harassment. Furthermore, understanding and reporting of sexual harassment remain low.