The ACTU has backed the Sex Discrimination Commissioner’s national plan to tackle gender inequality in the workplace including more education to eliminate sexual harassment and discrimination.
ACTU President Sharan Burrow said the findings from Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission “Listening Tour” were a wake up call, revealing serious ongoing inequities for women and, increasingly, men.
“This report is a potent reminder that women of all ages are still enduring entrenched gender inequality particularly in the workplace.
“Despite the progress we have made, there are still deep seated issues. It’s a scandal that we should have to remind people that discrimination and sexual harassment are against the law.”
There are particular groups including younger women, women from non- English speaking backgrounds and pregnant women who are more vulnerable and often unaware of their rights,” said Ms Burrow.
“The Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick appropriately raises the issue for men too, who also suffer because of rigid workplace cultures that fail to recognize caring responsibilities.
“Unions welcome the moves by HREOC to conduct research on sexual harassment and discrimination to inform an education campaign among employers and employees, many of whom are woefully ignorant of the issue and how to respond to it,” she said.
The national Listening Tour started in September last year and included interviews and contributions from over 1000 people.
“Research shows labour market changes and the casualisation of the workforce has impacted on women and led to pay inequality, but the nature and extent of sexual harassment is difficult to quantify,” said Ms Burrow.
Unions also welcome HREOC’s continuing focus on developing women’s leadership, paid maternity leave, improving work and family balance and the gender gap in retirement savings.
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