Department of Family and Community Services

5.2 Sexual harassment in employment

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Employment-related sexual harassment complaints received by the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board and the Australian Human Rights Commission in 2011-12

Current position

ADB

For the ADB, the second highest proportion of employment-related complaints in 2011-12 concerned sexual harassment (18 percent or 114 instances in total). 82 percent of these complainants were women.

AHRC

In 2011-12, the highest proportion of employment-related complaints received by the AHRC from people in NSW concerned sexual harassment (37 percent or 127 instances in total). 91 percent of these complainants were women.

See Table 6.8.

Gender gap

  • Women in NSW are between five (ADB) and nine (AHRC) times more likely than men to lodge a complaint about sexual harassment in employment.

The direction of
change over time

Sex disaggregated data for previous years was not readily available.
Discussion

ADB

The highest category of employment-related complaints (all grounds) for both women and men concerned harassment/hostile work environment (57 percent of total employment complaints).

AHRC

Harassment/hostile work environment complaints to the AHRC made up the great majority of employment complaints for women and men (74 percent of total).

The industries with the highest proportion of complaints relating to sexual harassment in employment were financial and insurance services (15 percent), arts and recreation services (10 percent) and accommodation and food services (9 percent).

AHRC sexual harassment national telephone survey 2012

This survey found that, nationally, only 20 percent of people who were sexually harassed made a formal report or complaint. It also found that:

21 percent of people aged 15 years and older have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace in the past five years.

33 percent of women have been sexually harassed since the age of 15, compared to 16 percent of men.

79 percent of harassers were men.

See Indicator 5.1 for further details about the ADB and AHRC. A person sexually harasses another person if he or she engages in unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature to the other person, when it is reasonable to anticipate that the other person would be offended, humiliated or intimidated. Legal definitions of sexual harassment can be found in the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW) Part 2A, and the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth), Division 3.

A key objective of the AHRC’s 2012 sexual harassment national telephone survey was to identify the prevalence, nature and reporting of sexual harassment in Australian workplaces over the past five years. Telephone interviews took place with 2,002 people aged 15 years and over around Australia.

Year collected: 2011-12.
Data source: NSW Anti-Discrimination Board 2011-12 complaints data (unpublished); Australian Human Rights Commission 2011-12 complaints data (unpublished); AHRC (2012) Working without fear: Results of the sexual harassment national telephone survey 2012. More information is available at www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au/ADB; www.humanrights.gov.au

Table 6.8 Employment-related discrimination complaints, NSW, 2011-12

Ground of discrimination  

ADB  

AHRC  

Total number  

Women complainants %  

Total number  

Women complainants %  

Sexual harassment  

114

82

127

91

Pregnancy  

23

100

46

98

Sex discrimination - other  

66

89

61

90

Family/Carer responsibility  

38

66

44

93

Marital status  

3

67

5

100

Disability  

136

44

6

100

Race  

76

36

6

100

Age  

30

53

3

100

Sexual preference/Homosexuality  

23

22

2

0

Transgender  

1

100

n/a  

n/a  

Victimisation  

94

64

41

90

Other  

45

49

2

100

Note: As one complaint may allege multiple grounds of discrimination, the ‘total number’ column is not a count of unique complaints. AHRC data relates only to complaints lodged by complainants residing in NSW.

Population: Employment-related discrimination and harassment complaints, all grounds, received by the ADB and AHRC in 2011-12.
Source: NSW Anti-Discrimination Board 2011-12 complaints data (unpublished); Australian Human Rights Commission 2011-12 complaints data (unpublished).