Today is the one year anniversary of the International Labour Organisation’s ground-breaking new Convention on Violence and Harassment (C190), which recognises every worker’s fundamental right to be free from all forms of violence and harassment at work, including gender-based violence and harassment.

Australian employers and the Australian government supported the adoption of the Convention one year ago. They must now step up and support ratification of the Convention so it can become law in Australia. Today we wrote to the Attorney General and Minister for Women and launched a petition calling on them to ratify the convention. Add your voice to the call here.

Worker safety has never been more important. COVID-19 has increased risks of violence and harassment, both at work and home. Frontline workers are facing increased risks of violence and harassment from anxious and stressed customers, patients and clients. Rates of domestic and family violence have spiked around the world during the pandemic, and large numbers of workers are being required to work from home, regardless of whether it’s a safe work environment for them.

This Convention is ground-breaking for many reasons, including that it:

  • Protects against all forms of violence and harassment in the world of work, including during commuting to and from work, and through information and communications technologies; 
  • Protects all individuals in the world of work, irrespective of their contractual status, including volunteers, trainees and apprentices, and casuals;
  • Recognises that family and domestic violence is a workplace issue sets out specific measures that can be taken to protect workers;
  • Recognises that workers in some sectors, such as health, transport, education, or those working at night or in isolated areas, may be more exposed to violence and harassment and need special protections.

Although violence and harassment in the workplace can be suffered by any worker, stereotyping and power inequalities make women much more vulnerable to it. The Sex Discrimination Commissioner supports ratification of the Convention in her report ‘Respect@Work’, which shows that our laws don’t keep workers safe. We urgently need improvements to our work health and safety law, anti-discrimination laws, and workplaces laws which make governments and employers step up and do their bit to prevent violence and harassment.

Please tell the Attorney-General and Minister for Women to urgently commit to ratify C.190 to make workplaces healthy, safe and respectful for all of us.

Sign the petition here.