AICD submission on the Government’s Respect at Work Amendment Bill

On 9 July 2021, the AICD lodged a submission with the Senate Education and Employment Committee Inquiry on the Sex Discrimination and Fair Work (Respect at Work) Amendment Bill 2021 (Bill).

The Government’s consultation comes in response to recommendations made by the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) following its landmark National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces in 2018 (National Inquiry).

The AICD welcomed the AHRC’s findings and recommendations detailed in the Respect@Work Report in 2020, including recommendations to simplify and clarify the overarching legal framework to ensure that government, employers, workers and the broader community are able to effectively address sexual harassment in the workplace.

In summary, the AICD supports the Government’s proposed legislative amendments to both the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 and the Fair Work Act 2009 the subject of this Bill, which would give effect to Respect@Work Report recommendations 16, 20, 21, 22, 29 and 30.

In addition, although not contemplated by the Bill, the AICD encourages the Government to give further consideration to Recommendation 19 for the AHRC to have the ability to conduct own-motion investigations. In our view, the AHRC is better equipped at present to provide a more sensitive and trauma-informed approach to a sexual harassment investigation, which can also take into account the systemic and structural drivers and impacts of sexual harassment in the workplace. 

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