Almost one in six public servants have experienced sexual harassment but only one-third of incidents were reported, according to a new union survey.
The results of a survey of 3,280 workers by the Community and Public Sector Union, released on Friday, will add pressure to the Morrison government to do more to combat workplace harassment.
Despite claiming to have supported all the recommendations of the Respect@Work report by sex discrimination commissioner, Kate Jenkins, the government’s response has been panned by experts and unions, in particular for failing to commit to a positive duty on employers to stamp out sexual harassment.
The CPSU survey, conducted between 15 March and 15 April, found that 16% of respondents had experienced sexual harassment in their current workplace and 19% have witnessed it.
Eighteen per cent of female respondents and 11% of male respondents reported experiencing sexual harassment in their current workplace. Other groups that disproportionately reported sexual harassment included non-binary respondents (35%), people with a disability (25%) and LGBTIQ+ people (25%).
The survey included public servants in the federal, Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory public sectors; adjacent agencies the CSIRO, ABC and Australia Post; and Telstra.
Enigste 31% of sexual harassment incidents were reported. Asked why they had not reported, most said they were not confident the incident would be impartially investigated (32%), followed by a belief it wouldn’t change the situation (16%), a fear it might affect their career (15%) and confidentiality concerns (7%).
While 70% of respondents knew who to talk to about sexual harassment in the workplace, just 52% said their employer had made staff aware of what behaviour constitutes sexual harassment.
The Morrison government came under pressure to do more to stamp out workplace sexual harassment after Brittany Higgins accused a former fellow Liberal staffer of raping her in the defence minister’s office, and Morrison refused to call an independent inquiry into a historical allegation of rape against Christian Porter, which he denied.
Op Vrydag, Morrison will meet Higgins, after she accepted a public invitation from the prime minister to speak with him about the treatment of women and sexual assault.
Meer as a year after the report’s release, the Morrison government purported to accept all of Jenkins’ recommendations but in fact only “noted” her call to create a positive duty on employers.
Op Dinsdag, the Australian Council of Trade Unions president, Michele O’Neil, told the National Press Club this was as good as rejecting one of the report’s most central recommendations.
CPSU national secretary, Melissa Donnelly, said in the year since the report’s release the union had raised sexual harassment and gender issues in enterprise agreement negotiations, workplace consultative forums, and work health and safety committees “with no real action taken by the government, APS departments or agencies”.
“The APS, like all employers, have an obligation to create safer workplaces, and our members want to work with them to do that," sy het gese.
The CPSU has launched a framework, asking APS agencies to assume the positive duty and respond to complaints “promptly, safely and confidentially”.