Taking a stand: Combating gendered violence and sexual harassment

Community leaders and teachers are united in addressing the alarming incidence of gender-based violence, sexual harassment, abuse and discrimination.

The stabbing murders at Bondi Junction on 13 April and subsequent attacks and deaths have highlighted the pervasive nature of gender-based violence and sexual harassment towards girls and women, underscoring the need for comprehensive measures to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all women — and particularly students in our schools.

On 27 April, people rallied and marched in their thousands throughout Australia, calling for more to be done to address the root causes of gender-based violence. NSW Premier Chris Minns and NSW Minister for Youth and Minister for Mental Health Rose Jackson joined the Sydney march.

From verbal harassment to physical assault, staff and students are facing many challenges that compromise their right to a safe and supportive learning environment. Many of these incidents go unreported, perpetuating a culture of silence and impunity that further emboldens perpetrators.

Train teachers, educate parents and students

One move is to include sex education programs that promote consent, respect, and healthy relationships from an earlier age. On 26 May, the federal government launched a $40 million education campaign to combat confusion around consent. The campaign will urge adults to educate themselves so they can hold vital discussions with their children.

Elsewhere, there is a growing consensus on the need for specialised training for teachers and other school staff to recognise, address, and report instances of gender-based violence and sexual harassment.

There are also calls for schools to foster a culture of zero tolerance towards all forms of violence and discrimination.

This entails creating safe spaces where staff and students feel empowered to speak out against injustice and seek support without fear of reprisal or stigma. It also requires creating partnerships with police, healthcare providers, and community organisations to ensure survivors receive the care and assistance they need.

By working together, we can create a future where every student can pursue their education free from the threat of harm or exploitation. The time to act is now.

How your union can help

If you are experiencing sexual harassment or misogyny in your workplace, there is support available.

The IEU holds employers to account on their legal responsibility to prevent discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace.

The positive duty reforms to the Sex Discrimination Act, introduced in December 2022 as the result of pressure from unions including the IEU, impose a legal obligation on organisations and businesses to take proactive and meaningful action to prevent relevant unlawful conduct from occurring in the workplace or in connection with work.

The IEU supports members should they become victims of misogyny. We urge you to call your organiser.

The IEU is pushing for clearer community guidelines, stronger moderation, and more effective mechanisms for reporting and removing misogynistic content by improving the regulation of social media platforms.

The IEU was also part of the ‘We won’t wait!’ campaign for 10 days paid family and domestic violence leave a year for all employees, including full-time, part-time and casual employees, now included in the National Employment Standards.

For more, see IE magazine

Meet Chanel Contos, the woman behind the Teach Us Consent campaign, IE magazine.

The influencer infiltrating classrooms, IE magazine.