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‘Reform is Urgent’: Sexual Harassment in Media Nearly Double National Average

This article discusses workplace sexual harassment and abuse. If you or someone you care about needs support, please contact 1800 RESPECT at 1800 737 732. In an emergency, call 000.

A new report from the Australian Human Rights Commission has found sexual harassment is nearly double the national average (33%) for the Information, Media and Telecommunications industries (64%). This includes sectors such as news publishing, motion picture and video activities, sound recording and music publishing, radio and television broadcasting and internet publishing among others.

The report, titled ‘Time for respect: Fifth national survey on sexual harassment in Australian workplaces’ (November 2022) interviewed over 10,000 respondents to investigate the prevalence, nature and reporting of sexual harassment in Australian workplaces, including a deep dive into the experience of workers who did make reports to their employers.

89% of Australian women aged 15 or older have experienced sexual harassment at some point in their lives (compared to 64% of men).

Overall, 77% of people sexually harassed at work were harassed by a man, with 33% harassed by women. Of these, fewer than 1 in 5 people made a formal report or complaint.

People who did report sexual harassment described experiencing negative consequences, including being ostracised, victimised or ignored by colleagues, feeling the need to resign or being labelled a ‘troublemaker’.

In the last 12 months, about 1 in 5 people (19%) have been sexually harassed at work, with the most common experiences including:

  • Sexually suggestive comments or jokes (27%)

  • Intrusive questions about a person’s private life or physical appearance (23%)

  • Inappropriate staring or leering that made them feel intimidated (19%) Unwelcome touching, hugging, cornering or kissing (19%)

  • Inappropriate physical contact (19%)

Respondents reported their experiences led to a range of negative impacts including decreased job satisfaction, self-esteem and confidence, productivity and general health and wellbeing.

Reform is urgent. Our industry must take action to protect our people – especially women and other vulnerable groups – and ensure their future wellbeing and success. We can do this by abolishing NDAs (Non-Disclosure Agreements) and holding perpetrators to account, bravely and without fear.

If your organisation does not have measures in place to to prevent and address sexual harassment in the workplace, start by implementing the Create (Safe) Space Toolkit, available for free via Advertising Council Australia (ACA) here.

If you're a man and would like to become a stronger ally in the prevention of casual misogyny and sexual harassment in your workplace, find your voice via Be The Change here.

Download the full ‘Time for Respect’ report via the Australian Human Rights Commission here.

Photo: Angélica Alex Tan, Death to The Stock.


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