Widespread allegations prompt investigation
Western Australia has appointed a PwC workplace culture expert to review the protocols of the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS) as part of the government's actions in stamping out sexual harassment and assault in the mining industry.
"I'm pleased to appoint Elizabeth Shaw to review the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety's processes for dealing with sexual harassment and sexual assault in Western Australia's mining industry," said Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston in a statement.
"Ms. Shaw is a well-respected advocate for gender equality and has extensive experience in improving workplace culture and working with senior leaders across a range of industries to drive change," he added.
Shaw, who specialises in diversity, inclusion, culture and change at PwC Australia, is expected to review the enforcement model of DMIRS, its organisation capabilities, as well as regulatory responses to sexual harassment and assault on mine sites.
Her findings are expected to be delivered in late 2022.
Meanwhile, Women's Interests Minister Simone McGurk also vouched for the credibility of Shaw, citing their previous collaborations together.
"Sexual violence is not something anyone should be exposed to, let alone in the workplace. However, it is a harsh reality that it is a problem across many industries," said McGurk.
"The appointment of an independent expert to examine the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety's processes for handling these incidents will be invaluable and help drive the change that is required."
Shaw's appointment came amid the recent widespread reports of sexual harassment and assault that rocked the mining industry.
In response to these reports, WA Premier Mark McGowan previously announced further investment in additional WorkSafe inspectors and funding to the DMIRS.
He also encouraged mining companies to "step up."
In her statement, McGurk also said that while it is vital for women to work in areas where they feel safe, businesses would also find benefits in this action.
"It is vital that mine sites are places women want to work and where they will feel safe, but it is also worth noting that companies with greater diversity are more profitable and productive," she said.