On 12 October 2022, the AICD provided a submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee inquiry into the Anti-Discrimination and Human Rights Legislation Amendment (Respect at Work) Bill 2022 (the Bill).
The Bill would implement seven recommendations from the 2020 Respect@Work report, to strengthen the legal and regulatory frameworks relating to sexual harassment in Australia. The Bill would also expand the role of the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) in preventing sexual harassment and other forms of sex discrimination.
The AICD supports the Bill, while recommending amendment to the costs protections provisions. In summary:
- The AICD welcomed the drafting of the positive duty for employers to take ‘reasonable and proportionate measures’ to eliminate, as far as possible, workplace sexual harassment, consistent with AICD’s previous submissions.
- The AICD supported a cost protection provision in the AHRC Act. We recommended consideration of alternative drafting based on section 570 of the Fair Work Act, as recommended by the Respect@Work Report, or AICD’s alternative proposal (discussed in our submission).
- Beyond the amendments, the AICD emphasised that they will only operate as intended in practice with adequate resourcing of the AHRC, including resourcing to deliver a significant awareness raising campaign prior to formal commencement of the new obligations.
- The AICD encouraged targeted training and support for the NFP and SME sectors which often have limited time, resources and expertise. The AICD stands ready to support those efforts.
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