Keeping workplaces safe

Unions ACT against gendered violence

The IEU has a long and strong commitment to fair, safe and inclusive workplaces. This includes support for legislation, policy and practice in relation to Work Health and Safety, the Fair Work Act and anti-discrimination laws at national, state and territory levels. Our union has welcomed recent initiatives to include workplace psychosocial risks in WHS laws.

With a focus on safety and respect at work, the IEU supported Unions ACT in undertaking a research project about gendered violence in workplaces. Despite the challenges of COVID-19, the survey and data analysis went ahead, and the final report has been provided to participating unions, including the IEU.

Recommendations from the report call upon the ACT Government to:

  • Consult with unions in developing amendments to the Work Health and Safety Act to improve regulations around gendered violence and psychosocial hazards through a positive duty to prevent gendered violence in the workplace.
  • Request WorkSafe ACT to consult with unions to develop a code of practice for countering gendered workplace violence which encourages workplaces to take a prevention-focused approach.
  • Provide funding for WorkSafe ACT to produce a Guidance Note and to run a campaign about gendered violence at work – this would educate workers on their rights and employers on their obligations, as well as improve access to support and reporting systems.
  • Continue to incorporate workplace gendered violence as a key area for action and investment under any Territory framework to address violence against women or to improve work health and safety outcomes.
  • Fund workplace rights training, including information on workplace gendered violence in the secondary school curriculum, noting that many secondary students are already working in part time roles in retail and hospitality.

We appreciate the support of the IEU’s Canberra office and our members in the ACT in particular for this important initiative. “I really admire the women who ask the union for help in dealing with gendered violence issues through the employer complaints process,” IEU Organiser Berna Simpson said. “This way employers learn the impact that stalking, name calling, sexual innuendos, and or rude gestures has on workers.”

We will liaise with Unions ACT and other unions about implementing the report’s recommendations.

The IEU will also continue campaigning with the union movement for the Federal Government to implement fully the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Respect@Work Report and to ratify the International Labor Organisation’s Convention 190 on ending workplace harassment and violence.