The Anti-Discrimination and Human Rights Legislation Amendment (Respect at Work) Bill 2022 was introduced at Federal Parliament on 27 September. The Bill will implement recommendations 16, 17, 18, 19, 23, 25 and 43 of the Respect@Work report. The Bill will make employers responsible for preventing sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace. Employers will bear the onus to take “reasonable and proportionate” steps to stop sexual discrimination, harassment and victimisation at work.
A new campaign was released on the 2022 International Day of Older Persons. The Elder Abuse: Shift Your Perspective campaign uses videos to encourage perpetrators to reflect on how their conduct affects other people. The campaign was created by the Australian Human Rights Commission. Elder abuse is when harm is done to an older person by someone known to them. According to the National Elder Abuse Prevalence Study, one sixth of older Australians have experienced this form of abuse, while only one third of victims seek help. This is likely to include working older Australians.
An external review into the culture of Antarctic research facilities has revealed that Australian stations have a widespread culture of sexual harassment. The review was commissioned by the Australian Antarctic Division. Women who worked in the field were stuck with abusers for weeks at a time. Professor Meredith Nash wrote the report and said that it may be unethical to continue sending women to the stations when their safety is not guaranteed. The perpetrators were making unwelcomed requests for sex, taunting and showing pornography. Another report was that women felt they had to hide their periods out of fear that they’d be viewed as incompetent. Further, the stations do not have the appropriate facilities for period health.
The Queensland Law Reform Commission is conducting a review on decriminalising sex work in the state. However, strippers will not be included in the review. There is a call for dancers to be included in the review so that it is inclusive of all sex work. Further, there is a push for stripping to be fully decriminalised and given anti-discrimination protections. Currently, dancers are hesitant to report crimes to police due to stigma and not being taken seriously.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) and International Labour Organisation (ILO) have released a statement on mental health in the workplace. According to WHO and ILO studies, 12 billion workdays are lost each year as a result of depression and anxiety. The WHO Guidelines on mental health at work and policy brief address mental health of workers worldwide. The guidelines recommend addressing risk-factors such as heavy workloads, negative behaviours and distress at work. The guidelines recommend manager training to prevent stressful working environments and better accommodate to the needs of workers.