Everyone’s business: survey on sexual harassment of members of the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association

Retail trade Sexual harassment Industrial relations Australia

In 2018 the Australian Human Rights Commission (the Commission) published its fourth national report on the prevalence, nature and reporting of workplace sexual harassment in Australia (2018 National Survey). In early 2020 the Commission will publish the findings of its National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces (the National Inquiry).

The 2018 National Survey report identified that one in three (33%) working Australians had experienced sexual harassment at work in the last five years. A number of industries reported workplace sexual harassment prevalence rates higher than the national rate (33%) including:

  • retail trade (42%)
  • accommodation and food services (39%).

In response to these concerning results the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association (the SDA), approached the Commission to conduct a comprehensive survey of its members, who are employed in these industries. The survey (2019 Member Survey) conducted earlier this year was based on the instrument and methodology adopted in the 2018 National Survey.

The results of the 2019 Member Survey reflect those of the 2018 National Survey, in terms of the prevalence of workplace sexual harassment, the gendered nature of these experiences and the low reporting rates. The 2019 Member Survey has allowed the Commission to provide the SDA with a comprehensive picture of the workplace sexual harassment experienced by its members, including valuable new information about the role of customers in workplace sexual harassment, both as harassers and bystanders.

This report is an important step in addressing both the systemic drivers which underpin workplace sexual harassment in the working population, as well as factors which are unique to the workplaces of SDA members.


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