Harassment at Work

What do I do if I’m being harassed?

Sexual harassment in the workplace is a serious problem in Australia, and common for young women. If you have been sexually harassed at work, it’s not your fault. You have the right to feel safe at work, and the right to say something if you don’t. Sexual harassment can have long term effects, you can find out more here.

If you, or someone you know, have been harassed you should:

  • Tell someone about it, like a  parent, teacher or another adult you trust, this will make you feel better and they will be able to support you.
  • Tell the person harassing you that their behaviour is not acceptable or that you find it offensive and you want them to stop. Only do this if you feel comfortable enough to. You can tell them in person or in writing.
  • Tell a person in charge what is going on, like your supervisor or manager. Tell them when the incident occurred and who else may have witnessed it. Most workplaces have policies and procedures to deal with sexual harassment – if you’re not sure what they are, ask your employer or HR person.
  • Keep a record of the harassment by writing down when the incident(s) occurred, and who else might have seen it happen.
  • Contact your Union representative for support and strategies.
  • If you think you have been sexually assaulted you can report it to your local police station if you want to. You can call 1800 Respect for info and support, or if you’re not sure whether you should report it.
  •  If the problem is not resolved through your workplace’s procedures you can make a complaint to either the Australian Human Rights Commission or a similar organisation in your state. You can find a list of the Equal Opportunity Commission and Anti-Discrimination Commissions in each state here. The state laws and federal laws are slightly different, so before you make a complaint get in touch with the Australian Human Rights Commission and the organisation in your state to make sure you are going through the right organisation. The complaint usually has to be made within 12 months of the incident occurring.
  • If the matter is not resolved following a complaint to your state based equal opportunity or anti-discrimination commission, you may have the option of a tribunal hearing.
  • If the matter is not resolved following a complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission, you can take it to court.

If you are not sure who to tell or what to do you can call 1800 Respect or Kids Helpline for help.