What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 21 – 27 November 2022

Important Inquiry Shines a Light On Transgender And Gay Hate Crimes

The recent mass shooting in Colorado that targeted LGBT+ individuals has aligned with the first week of public hearings for an inquiry into historical hate crimes against the LGBTQI+ community in NSW. The inquiry will examine hate crimes from 1970 to 2010. It is led by John Sackar, justice of the Supreme Court, to address unsolved homicides and disappearances during that period which were not previously classified as hate crimes due to societal prejudice. So far, 25 unsolved cases have been identified and will be reopened. The cases were not previously treated with urgency due to homophobic attitudes within the police force and failure to respond.

Racism Against Indigenous People Increasing but Reconciliation Progress ‘Strong’ Says Survey

The Australian Reconciliation Barometer (ARB) released a new report, publishing results from a survey that examined the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. The results showed that over 50% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people consider Australia to be a racist country. There was a reported increase in instances of racism towards Aboriginal people compared to the survey conducted 4 years ago. Further, support for the Treaty and Voice to Parliament increased by 25% since the last survey.

ACT Employers Now Required to Report Sexual Assault Cases To WorkSafe

Recent changes have been made to ACT legislation, mandating that employers report incidents of sexual assault to WorkSafe ACT. Previously, employers were only required to report sexual assault in cases of hospital admission or medical treatment. The minister for industrial relations and workplace safety has commented, saying that these laws bridge the legislative gap. The amendments are part of a national effort to implement the recommendations of the Respect@Work report. The aim is to enforce a zero-tolerance approach, train staff and investigate all claims of sexual harassment and assault.

‘Unsafe, Humiliated’: IKEA Worker Sues for Pregnancy Discrimination

A complaint has been filed in the Federal Court by a former IKEA employee alleging discrimination on the basis of pregnancy. The complainant formally reported an incident where her boss forced her to disclose her pregnancy and was then dismissed. She claims that this constituted harassment, bullying and unfair dismissal. She was made to copy her boss into any correspondence with external parties regarding her pregnancy which made her feel humiliated and unsafe.

With Anti-Discrimination Changes, Northern Territory Has Some of The World’s Most Progressive Sex Work Laws. It Wasn’t Always That Way

The Northern Territory has become the first jurisdiction in the world to explicitly protect sex work and sex workers under its anti-discrimination laws. The Northern Territory decriminalised sex work in 2019, becoming the second Australian jurisdiction to do so. The new amendments to anti-discrimination legislation provide equal protection for sex workers as any other worker. Advocates are hoping this leads to a domino effect across the country and work to help reduce stigma and provide better protection for the safety of workers.

Government Ditches ‘Costs Neutrality’ Model in Respect At Work Bill

Last week there was a push for the government to adopt a cost neutrality model to encourage employees to take sexual harassment and bullying complaints to court. However, the federal government has rejected this approach. There is concern that this will deter litigants from pursuing their claims further.