The government's 'roadmap' for dealing with sexual harassment falls short. What we need is radical change
4 min read
The government's response to Kate Jenkins' landmark report on sexual harassment in the workplace includes several positive measures. On the whole, however, it doesn't go far enough.
Over a year ago, Kate Jenkins, the Sex Discrimination Commissioner, publicly released the Respect@Work report, a landmark national inquiry into sexual harassment in workplaces by the Australian Human Rights Commission. Jenkins found the prevalence of sexual harassment in Australia to be "endemic", conservatively estimating the cost to the economy at $3.5 billion dollars per year. The report also documented the long-term health and well-being implications for people (predominantly women) who experience such harassment, and made 55 recommendations to comprehensively reform how Australia responds to and prevents sexual harassment. Fast forward a year and there has been no meaningful reform, despite a groundswell of public concern and increasing numbers of women speaking out about the sexual harassment they have experienced at their workplaces. On March 15, as part of the March 4 Justice, a petition of more than 90,000 signatures was delivered to Canberra politicians. A key demand was that the government fully implement the 55 recommendations in the Respect@Work Report. James Ross/AAP Light on detail: the government's response Following intense public pressure, the Morrison government has finally responded to the report with a plan entitled, "A Roadmap for Respect: Preventing and Addressing Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces". The roadmap recognises the importance of a preventative approach to stop sexual harassment before it occurs. It also expresses agreement (either in full, in part or in principle) or "notes" the recommendations in the Respect@Work report. À lire aussi : Friday essay: Sex, power and anger — a history of feminist protests in Australia This, however, falls significantly short of a commitment to fully implement all 55 recommendations put forth by Jenkins. For the roadmap to respond effectively to her damning findings, it must deliver radical change to ensure workplace equality in reality. That said, there is no doubt the groundswell…