What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 12 – 18 December 2022

2 Women Sexually Harassed By Late Supreme Court Judge Win Settlement

Two women have received settlement after Peter Vickery harassed and discriminated against them. The women made the claims against Vickery, who was a Supreme Court judge in Victoria, in 2020. His inappropriate behaviour included sending sexual poetry and kissing one of the women on the lips. The cases were resolved by mediation but the settlement sums remain confidential. The women have been commended for their bravery and tenacity.

Retail Sector Unveils Sexual Harassment Prevention Guide

The National Retail Association released a new guide for preventing sexual harassment in retail workplaces on December 13. The CEO has said that the aim of the Guide to Sexual Harassment Prevention in the Retail and Food Service Environments is to help businesses “navigate the regulatory landscape and implement prevention and management policies.” The NRA was a primary advocate of passing of the Respect@Work Bill in November. This Guide has come just in time for the Christmas and Boxing Day rush.

Respect At Work Bill Enshrines Preventative Approach For Employers

The WA Government implemented the Respect@Work Bill in November. This Bill imposes a positive duty on employers to prevent sexual harassment. In determining the unlawfulness of the conduct, the following factors will be considered:

● the seriousness of the conduct;
● whether the conduct was continuous or repetitive;
● the role, influence or authority of the person engaging in the conduct; and
● any other relevant circumstances.

Other changes include:

● a mechanism to enable class actions to be brought to the Federal Courts on behalf of a group of people who have experienced workplace discrimination;
● a lower threshold for an allegation of harassment on the ground of sex from ‘serious demeaning conduct’ to ‘demeaning conduct’;
● an amendment towards the objects of the SD Act to provide for ‘substantive equality’ between men and women rather than ‘equality of opportunity’;
● a clarification that victimising conduct can form the basis for both a civil action and criminal complaint; and
● an extension to the timeframe for making complaints under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (Cth), the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth) and the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) from six months to 24 months