What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 13 February 2023 – 19 February 2023

New Report Sheds Light on Workplace Violence and Harassment in Australia

A new report released by the Lloyd’s Register Foundation has found that Australia has one of the highest rates of “workplace violence and harassment” in the world, with an average of 49.1% (compared to 21% globally). The Lloyd’s Register Foundation World Risk Poll results also detailed that 52% of women in the Australian and New Zealand region have experienced “physical, psychological or sexual violence in the workplace at some point in their life.” Further, the report found that Australia and New Zealand “was the region which had faced the highest rates of repeat experiences.” The poll compiled 125,000 individuals throughout 121 countries, including Northern America, Africa and Europe.

Fortescue Metals Group to Hand Over Sexual Harassment Documents

Mining giant Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) stated this week that it will hand over documents to WorkSafe following more than 30 claims of workplace sexual harassment. The company said it will redact the names of the employees in the documents to “protect employee privacy.” Last week, FMG was charged with 34 counts of “refusing or failing to provide documents” to a WorkSafe inspector following an investigation into sexual harassment occurring within the workplace. The company initially defended its position, stating “it had been working constructively with WorkSafe” for over six months and that there was no legal reason for WorkSafe to request the documents. However, following a statement on Monday, FMG said that it would hand over the required documents “but with the names of our people redacted to protect their identities.”

South Australian “We’re Equal” Initiative

The South Australia Equal Opportunity Commission has conducted a pilot called, ‘We’re Equal’ initiative. The aim of the pilot was to help SA businesses promote equal opportunity education and understanding of their rights within their workplaces. The initial target group was small hospitality venues. With the success of the pilot the Commission will target other sectors such as financial, peak sporting bodies, government departments and legal firms. The Attorney General noted that the four-week pilot program saw “a 51 per cent increase in total activity across the equal opportunity website”, including “notable increases in views of pages relating to discrimination laws… complaint processes and pathways, and training and resources.” Businesses can currently go to the SA EOC website and register to be part of the We’re Equal Initiative. (Register your business | Equal Opportunity)

Physician Faces Re-Trial Over Sexual Assault Charges

Newcastle general practitioner and immunologist Jeremy Coleman is facing a re-trial of 13 charges of sexual, indecent and common assault concerning nine patients. The charges relate to incidents occurring between August 2008 and November 2012, with prosecutors alleging that Coleman conducted “inappropriate breast and vaginal examinations” with no medical basis. In 2018, Coleman was acquitted of 50 charges, with the jury unable to reach a verdict on the remaining 16 counts. Prosecutor Tony McCarthy stated on Tuesday that Coleman asked the “alleged victims about their sex lives and made comments about their private parts.” In several instances, Coleman allegedly failed to provide patients with privacy after directing them to undress.