According to the Australian Human Rights Commission, the definition of sexual harassment is; β€˜an unwelcome sexual advance, unwelcome request for sexual favours or other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature which makes a person feel offended, humiliated and/or intimidated, where a reasonable person would anticipate that reaction in the circumstances.’


Examples of sexually harassing behaviour include:

  • unwelcome touching;

  • staring or leering;

  • suggestive comments or jokes;

  • sexually explicit pictures or posters;

  • unwanted invitations to go out on dates;

  • requests for sex;

  • intrusive questions about a person's private life or body;

  • unnecessary familiarity, such as deliberately brushing up against a person;

  • insults or taunts based on sex, or with sexual overtones;

  • sexually explicit physical contact; and

  • sexually explicit emails or SMS text messages.


How to take action against sexual harassment in the workplace:

There are a number of ways you can take action to stop sexual harassment, intimidation and abuse from occurring in your workplace. There are also a number of ways that you can work to address it when it does happen that will minimise negative effects on the victim and show the perpetrator that you will not tolerate that kind of behaviour.

  • Put sexual harassment in the workplace on your risk register. This means that your executives and board will have to pay consideration to the issue at least once a year, and any issues can be raised, discussed and a plan to address them can be put in place.

  • Implement bystander training for all your employees and executive team.

  • Provide multiple avenues of redress. An anonymous workplace tip line could be established, or people could have multiple ways of making an official complaint.

  • Make sure you do not penalise those who make complaints (studies show that one third of people who make a complaint about sexual harassment in the workplace are sidelined, demoted or sacked following the complaint.)

  • Take responsibility as leaders- culture starts at the top.