State and Federal legislation make it unlawful to sexually harass another person in the workplace.
Sexual harassment takes place when a person makes an unwelcome advance or engages on other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature in relation to another person in circumstances where a reasonable observer would have anticipated that the second person would be offended, humiliated or intimidated.
Sexual harassment can occur as a result of a single incident or a pattern of behaviour where the outcome is a hostile, offensive or intimidating work environment. Sexual harassment can be committed regardless of whether or not the behaviour concerned was intended to cause offence, humiliation or distress. The Australian Workers’ Union prohibits acts of sexual harassment by any individuals (i.e. employees and visitors).
Sexual harassment encompasses a broad range of physical, written or verbal behaviour, which can include, but is not limited to the following:
- Unwelcome physical contact or attempted physical contact, e.g. kissing, touching (some of these may constitute assault)
- Insinuations about an individual’s private life
- Sexual insults or jokes of a sexual nature
- Unwelcome sexual advances, suggestions, innuendoes or requests for sexual favours
- Offensive printed material
- Offensive information transmitted electronically, e.g. Internet
NOTE: Cases of rape or violent sexual assault or other criminal offences (e.g. indecent exposure) should be referred to the police.