Sexual harassment in mining triggers MCA taskforce

The Australian Human Rights Commission has found that 40 per cent of workers in the mining sector experienced sexual harassment in the past five years.

The commission’s Respect@Work Sexual Harassment National Inquiry (2020) also found that women are more than twice as likely to be sexually harassed as their male counterparts.

This triggers a response from the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA), which has committed to take action to eliminate workplace sexual harassment.

It includes expanding the industry’s safety and health policy and making a strong statement about the importance of abolishing sexual harassment from the workplace.

The MCA plans to establish a Respect@Work Taskforce to broaden the industry’s safety and health policy that cares for the whole person.

The taskforce will report to the MCA National Safety and Healthy Working Group and use models from the MCA’s Safety, Healthy and Respectful Workplaces policy to prevent and respond to sexual harassment in workplaces.

“Safety is the core value of the Australian minerals industry and a safe and fair workplace is essential,” MCA chief executive Tania Constable said.

“Yet with the commission’s report finding that 40 per cent of the minerals industry workforce had experienced sexual harassment, it is clear that the industry needs to lead a decisive response and take stronger action.

“Sending a clear message across the industry and the community that sexual harassment is unacceptable and will not be tolerated will put the sector on the right path for change.”

These changes will be implemented via an industry code and toolkit that establish clear expectations for respectful behaviour at work.

Australian Human Rights Commission sex discrimination commissioner Kate Jenkins said that while she was devastated by the experiences of sexual harassment within workplaces uncovered in the inquiry, she was heartened by the response to the national inquiry.

“Workplace harassment is not inevitable. It is not acceptable. It is preventable,” Jenkins said.

“I call on all employers to join me in creating safe, gender-equal and inclusive workplaces, no matter their industry or size.”

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