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Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is a serious problem and it is against the law. You can take action if you have been sexually harassed at work. This infosheet looks at what you can do to stop the harassment and make a complaint.

Generally, sexual harassment is unwelcome sexual behaviour. Sexual harassment is against the law if it would make a reasonable person feel offended, humiliated or intimidated. Sexual harassment can be physical, verbal or written. Some examples of sexual harassment include:

  • brushing up against someone, touching, fondling or hugging;
  • unwanted requests for sex;
  • sexual messages in emails, text messages or on social networking sites;
  • sexually suggestive comments or jokes; and
  • repeated requests to go out.

Sexual harassment in the workplace is unlawful. To make a complaint the sexual harassment must be connected to the person’s workplace. Connected to the workplace means that a person can still be sexually harassed after hours, for example at a work Christmas party.

What can I do if I am being sexually harassed at work?

If you think that you are being sexually harassed at work you don’t have to put up with it. The steps you take will depend on your work environment and how comfortable you feel speaking up. It is a good idea keep a record of situations when you feel sexually harassed. Consider keeping a diary, include specific details such as dates, times, witnesses, how you were sexually harassed and how this made you feel. It is important to get the help that you need so see a doctor if you feel depressed, anxious or if you have been physically injured.

If you feel in danger:

  • Apply to the Magistrates Court for an Intervention Order (seek legal advice). An Intervention Order is an order made by the court to protect you from the harasser. The harasser will have to follow the conditions set out in the order.
  • Call the police. Some harassing behaviour is criminal such as sexual assault, indecent exposure and stalking and may be investigated by the police.

Tell someone and take action

  • If you feel safe you should tell the person sexually harassing them how their behaviour makes you feel. Make it clear to the harasser that their behaviour is inappropriate and unwanted and that you feel harassed and offended.
  • Make a complaint to your manager or HR department.
  • Make a complaint to your State Anti-discrimination Commission or to the Australian Human Rights Commission.

More information can be found in the attached fact sheet, which we recommend you download.

For further support

Call our Telephone Information Service on Melbourne Metro (03) 9662 1933 or Regional Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania on 1800 331 617.

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