ACTU slams government's Summit on Women's Safety

The summit failed to enact recommendations from Respect@Work report

ACTU slams government's Summit on Women's Safety

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) criticised on Tuesday the National Summit on Women's Safety as a "politically controlled" event that failed to take action on workplace harassment and gendered violence.

The summit was held on September 6 and 7, prompted by Brittany Higgins’ allegations of rape inside the Parliament House in 2019, ABC reported. It seeks to form a national plan to address women's and children's safety. However, the two-day summit ended with harsh criticism from relevant parties, saying that it failed to meet its goal.

"This summit promised action on workplace sexual harassment and gendered violence, but the government has instead delivered a carefully politically controlled event, excluded the representatives of working women and failed to commit to act urgently to deliver Respect@Work and the universal right to paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave," said ACTU president Michele O'Neil in a media release.

Read more: Workplace harassment law set for overhaul after government vows to take action

The Respect@Work is a report from the Australian Human Rights Commission tackling the prevalence of sexual harassment in the workplace. It cited data from the 2018 National Survey which revealed that one-third or 33% of people have experienced sexual harassment in their workplace in the last five years. It was also more prevalent in women, with at least two in five (39%) experiencing it, compared to the one in four (26%) men.

Respect@Work outlined 55 recommendations on handling workplace sexual harassment, and groups expected Prime Minister Scott Morrison to enact them at summit's conclusion. 

"Prime Minister Morrison repeatedly stated that his government would act on all 55 recommendations of the Respect@Work report. The opportunity to do so came last week, and the government implemented six, voting against amendments which would have implemented all the legal changes recommended by the Sex Discrimination Commissioner including the critical positive duty on employers to prevent sexual harassment," said O'Neil.

"This government doesn’t need more reports or summits to know what do to for working women – they are already ignoring the majority of recommendations in the extensive national report that they commissioned. It is time to act to make workplaces safer for women."

Read more: Workplace Harassment: It's Never Okay

Earlier, ACTU also took a swipe at the summit for not including women in the conversation.

"The government has left out of this summit the voice and representatives of working women. It shows how little they care about real change, and real rights at work that could protect women," O'Neil said.

It also called out the government's vote against the paid 10-day leave for women experiencing family and domestic violence, saying the issue is a "national crisis."

"The Morrison Government must urgently legislate for 10 days paid family and domestic violence leave in the National Employment Standards," the ACTU president added.

Recent articles & video

'There are a number of benefits that come from doing wellbeing well'

FWC finds early notice of end to fixed-term contract amounts to dismissal

Nearly 9 in 10 Australian employers concerned about finding top talent

SafeWork NSW announces more compliance checks for psychological safety

Most Read Articles

Queensland resolves dispute on long service leave entitlements

Fired for 'verbally abusing' manager? Worker cries unfair dismissal amid health issues

'Fuck this job': Senior colleague’s report against worker leads to dismissal