The Equal Opportunity Act 2010 defines what behaviours constitute sexual harassment in public life, including in the workplace. Sexual harassment is unwelcome behaviour of a sexual nature that a reasonable person would expect would make another person feel offended, humiliated or intimidated. Anyone can perpetrate or experience sexual harassment. It may be physical, spoken or written and can occur even when the perpetrator does not intend it.
Under the Act, organisations including Victorian government departments must take reasonable and proportionate measures to eliminate sexual harassment in their workplaces.
This audit examines whether Victorian government departments provide workplaces that are free from sexual harassment. The departments are:
- Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP)
- Department of Education and Training (DET)
- Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)
- Department of Justice and Community Safety (DJCS)
- Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions (DJPR)
- Department of Transport (DoT)
- Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC)
- Department of Treasury and Finance (DTF).
The audit looked at whether departments:
- have effective measures to prevent and report on sexual harassment
- respond to complaints of sexual harassment in a fair and effective manner.
No department is free from sexual harassment and while they are working to improve this, departments can still do more. While departments express a clear message that sexual harassment is unacceptable, the 2019 People Matter Survey (PMS) found that one in 14 respondents experienced sexual harassment in the previous 12 months.