Victoria cracks down on LGBTQ hate crime at work

State wants to remind employers of their duty to protect employees from such acts

Victoria cracks down on LGBTQ hate crime at work

The Victoria government has launched a new campaign that aims to stamp out cases of workplace violence, especially ones that target employees' gender or sexual orientation.

The WorkSafe campaign, dubbed "It comes in many forms," aims to remind employers that they have a duty to prevent gendered violence in the workplace, as it is part of their obligation under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

"The harm caused by work-related gendered violence can end careers, damage mental health, ruin relationships, even destroy lives," said Narelle Beer, WorkSafe executive director, health and safety.

"That's why WorkSafe is putting employers on notice and reminding them of their obligation to ensure that sexism, homophobic comments, workplace aggression, and discriminatory language doesn't occur in the workplace," she added.

According to the provincial government, work-related gendered violence covers any behaviour that affects the health and safety of an employees because of their gender, sexual orientation, or because they do not conform to gender stereotypes.

These may be committed by colleagues, supervisors, clients, or customers, according to the provincial government, in the form of stalking, verbal abuse, unwelcome comments or gestures, or threats or physical violence.

"Any form of work-related gendered violence is unacceptable, and this campaign makes that clear. It's never ok and employers have a duty to call it out," said Workplace Safety Minister Ingrid Stitt. "Every Victorian has the right to feel safe and respected at work, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation."

Read more: Victoria pledges ‘more support’ for healthcare workers

The campaign came after a 2018 survey of the Australian Human Rights Commission found that one in three people had been sexually harassed at work in the past five years, while 83% of workplace sexual harassment were not reported.

The provincial government attributed the lack of reported cases to the fear that victims have over their employment, thinking that by speaking up they could potentially lose their jobs.

According to the provincial government, victims of work-related violence were more likely to include women, young workers, workers who are LGBTIQA+, from culturally diverse or migrant backgrounds, with disability, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workers.

It said the campaign further seeks to encourage Victorians to speak up and call out inappropriate behaviour that they see in the workplace.

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