The 2019 National Enquiry into Sexual Harassment in the Work Place led by Australia’s Sex Discrimination Commissioner – Kate Jenkins hopes to address these issues, raise public awareness to influence behaviour at the work place and make recommendations.
the RRR Network has conducted extensive research in the past three months to assist their submission to the National Enquiry into Sexual Harassment in the Work Place, led by Australia’s Sex Discrimination Commissioner – Kate Jenkins. The RRR released an online survey to its members and made it available to the public via social media from December 2018 to early February 2019.
Data was collected on 349 participants, with a quarter of the responses received from women living in the Wheatbelt. Over 37% of women who responded, report working the agriculture sector, and over 58% of respondents were aged over 45 years; with more than 10% of those respondents aged over 65 years.
Overall the results of the survey were alarming:53% of respondents have experienced unnecessary familiarity, such as deliberately brushing up against them or unwelcome touching at a work place at some point in their careers. Almost a quarter of women reported being scared or concerned to go to work because of potentially being sexually harassed in some form. 58% have altered their behaviours at work to avoid certain people or situations because of unwanted or unwelcomed behaviour. Over 40% of respondents stated that they have, at some point in their careers, been sexually harassed by a client, customer or contractor related to their work. Almost 15% of respondents stated they had considered resigning from their job due to sexual harassment.
In addition, over 80 respondents chose to provide detailed stories of their sexual harassment within WA work places. These incredibly private and disturbing stories took courage to retell and the RRR Network commend these women for sharing.
Women expressed how speaking out against sexual harassment in their work places only intensified the situation and for many, little resolution was found. It only created victim-hood, colleague bullying or taking sides, isolation and many as a result left their jobs to be relieved of their new and negative daily environments. Whilst this suggests for women to stay quiet to avoid conflict and possibly loss of employment, at present there is significant change occurring in the work place related to the treatment of sexual harassment, with more women feeling empowered that their ‘whistle blowing’ will be respected and appropriate procedures will follow.
The #Metoo and Ustoo# has inspired global awareness and the enquiry demonstrates that sexual harassment is no longer a facet of life to be swept under the rug. Kate Jenkins confirms that there has been a ‘marked increase in the prevalence rate’ of sexual harassment but cannot be certain this is a result of an increase in sexually harassing behaviours or from sustained national and global discourse surrounding the topic in recent years. Although, the latter seems the most probable.
The RRR Network’s results, highlight the emotional and economic impact of sexual harassment deriving from the work place and clearly supports the need for a National Enquiry. The RRR will report on the outcomes of the National Enquiry when available.