Sexual Harassment compliance

Sexual Harassment compliance – On 25 November 2022, the Anti-Discrimination and Human Rights Legislation Amendment (Respect at Work) Act 2022 was passed into Law. The Act to implements recommendations from the AHRC 2020 Respect@Work report. It has significantly strengthened Australia’s regulatory framework in respect of sex discrimination, and in particular, sexual harassment.

The New Positive Duty

The centrepiece of the Act was the introduction of a positive duty to prevent sex discrimination and sexual harassment.

Sexual Harassment Training

The Act amended the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth) by introducing a new positive duty for all employers to take ‘reasonable and proportionate measures’ to eliminate, as far as possible, unlawful sex discrimination, including sexual harassment, sex-based harassment, hostile work environments and victimisation. This duty will coexist with existing duties under work health and safety laws, including the duty of employers to provide a safe working environment for workers, so far as reasonably practicable.

Respect at work

The Australian Human Rights Commission  concluded in the Respect@Work report that a positive duty shifts the burden from individuals making complaints to employers taking proactive and preventative action.

As the positive duty is an ongoing duty, it shifts the emphasis from a complaints based model to one where employers must continuously assess and evaluate whether they are meeting the requirements of the duty.

Under this new duty, it will be imperative that all employers and organisations adopt preventative measures to address sex discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace, one of the most important preventative measures is training your employees to understand what sexual harassment is and that it is unlawful.

It is vitally important to note that from 12 December 2023, the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) can inquire into compliance with the new positive duty. If non-compliance is reasonably suspected, the AHRC can issue a compliance notice and apply to the Federal Court for orders to direct compliance with the notice.

What does Sexual Harassment compliance mean?

Simply put it means taking all reasonable steps to eliminate, as far as possible, unlawful sex discrimination, including sexual harassment by;

  1. Having clear well written polices that are available and accessible for your employees
  2. Providing training and retraining to your employees at all levels so that they understand;
    * What sexual harassment is
    * That it is unlawful
    * What to do if they are subjected to or witness sexual harassment
  3. Show that they have a trusted reporting mechanism that helps to create a supportive culture where your employees will come forward if they are subjected to or witness sexual harassment in the workplace

We recommended that training is conducted twice annually and especially when new employees come on board.


Sexual Harassment training

Sexual harassment training can assist you to

* Identify how, where and when sexual harassment might happen

* Work out how you will address sexual harassment if it does happen

* Understand the triggers for sexual harassment

* Help you employees to understand the unacceptable ‘excuses’ for sexual harassment.

Now is the time to act

It may be too late come December 2023. Don’t take the risk. You may be called upon to show that you have complained with the positive duty!!

AWPTI can provide your organisation with our Understanding Workplace Sexual Harassment programs. The program can be delivered in person or remotely via Zoom or MS Teams with a flat rate with no limit on attendees.

Details and content of the programs can be found here –

The programs have been designed and developed and are facilitated by Phil O’Brien, (more details here) a highly skilled and experienced workplace investigator and trainer.  The advantages of having Phil deliver the program for you are;

  • Your participants are able to hear about real life sexual harassment complaints and investigations rather then someone with no real world experience just reading off the script.
  • The sessions are highly engaging with many ‘real world stories’.
  • Your participants are able to ask questions and get answers relating to real life sexual harassment complaints and investigations.
  • We have found that listening to the real life examples and being able to engage and ask questions makes the sessions more enjoyable and very interesting.
  • Based on the feedback we have received, the sessions are engaging and entertaining.

Please contact me if you would like more details or would like to discuss making a booking,

AWPTI – Workplace training national wide and internationally

Workplace investigation based in Sydney, conducting workplace investigations nationwide including Queensland, Victoria and South Australia, Western Australia, the ACT/Canberra, Northern Territory and Tasmania.

Misconduct investigations, bullying investigations, harassment investigations & sexual harassment investigations, complaint investigations, grievance investigations, discrimination investigations