In 2018, the Government funded the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) to undertake a National Inquiry into sexual harassment in Australian Workplaces. The resulting Respect@Work Report recommended legislative amendments to simplify and clarify the overarching legal frameworks to ensure that employers and workers are able to effectively address sexual harassment in the workplace.
The amendments simplify and amend the protection from workplace sexual harassment in the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (SD Act) to ensure the provisions closely align with terms used in the model Work Health and Safety law.
The amendments adopt the concepts of ‘worker’ and ‘PCBU’ (persons conducting a business or undertaking) used in the model Work Health and Safety laws. This means that persons not previously covered under the SD Act, such as interns, volunteers and self-employed workers, are protected from harassment.
Volunteers will now be able to make complaints to the AHRC.
In Queensland, the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 already applies to volunteers for sexual harassment issues.