The State Government will take a range of actions to tackle sexual assault and sexual harassment in WA workplaces in response to the Parliamentary inquiry into the FIFO mining industry.
Released in June, the “Enough is Enough” report contained 24 recommendations to combat a culture of sexual harassment and assault in WA’s mining industry.
The Government has supported, or supported in-principle, all recommendations, and its plans will be implemented across key areas such as primary prevention, data and research, a refocused regulatory framework and better support and advocacy for victims of workplace sexual harassment.
A new Code of Practice will be developed to help improve security measures for workers staying at workplace accommodation and will act as a minimum standard that employers must consider to ensure the safety of their workers living regionally or remotely.
The Government will also fund a community legal and advocacy service centre to provide free guidance and advice to affected people.
In line with Recommendation 20, the Government has already committed to changing the law to bring WA’s definition of what constitutes sexual harassment in line with other Australian jurisdictions and to remove the ‘disadvantage test’ complainants.
The legislative reforms are expected to be introduced early next year.
It’s expected that a “culturally appropriate” expert group will be established within WorkSafe WA to investigate, assess and deal with reports of sexual harassment and assault offences in the sector.
Conscious of a study being conducted by the Centre for Transformative Work Design and a regulatory review, the Government will provide a further report to Parliament before the end of 2022.
Mines and Petroleum and Industrial Relations Minister Bill Johnston said the Government was strongly committed to providing safe and inclusive workplaces for all employees across Western Australia, regardless of industry or size.
Given the Government’s support, or in-principle support, for all of the report’s recommendations, he encouraged industry to also consider how they can apply the report’s recommendations.
In particular, Johnston said a FIFO worker register was a matter for industry to resolve rather than the Government as there were potential legal and technical issues that made that recommendation difficult to implement.
“I call on industry to ensure our mining sector is accountable and responsive to community standards,” Johnston said.
“We need to work together to build a culture of respect as women have a right to work in safe workplaces that are free from sexual harassment.
“We cannot be complacent when it comes to inappropriate workplace behaviours; there is much to be done and the McGowan Government will continue to advocate for change.”
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