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  • Writer's picture2022 Global Voices Fellow

Mandatory Bystander Intervention to Decrease Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

By Aleksandra Markovic, Western Chances, CSW, 2021

Aleksandra is a Western Chances Scholar and has completed a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Melbourne. Her policy paper focuses on Mandatory Bystander Intervention to Decrease Sexual Harassment in the Workplace.

Executive Summary

The rise of sexual misconduct within the Australian parliament has been alarming. Questions are being raised about how Australian workplaces are safeguarding their employees against workplace sexual violence. A 2018 study by the Australian Human Rights Commission found that almost two in five women reported experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace within the last five years (Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, 2020). Moreover, 40 per cent of these incidents were witnessed by at least one person, and in most cases, witnesses did not try to intervene (Judd, 2021). These statistics demonstrate a clear need to reform workplace culture and apply measures that promote a safe environment. They also demonstrate a gap in staff training. If training is effectively developed, these tools can help foster a supportive environment and equip employees with the skills to hold each other accountable. However, there is currently a lack of funding allocated towards evaluating and measuring effective training methods in reducing sexual harassment in Australian workplaces. Consequently, this paper recommends introducing a mandatory bystander intervention training program across all Victorian workplaces. This training will place a positive duty on employees and also evaluate the effectiveness of in person training programs.

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