The ACTU welcomes the opportunity to make a submission in support of ratification of the International Labour Organization Convention concerning the elimination of violence and harassment in the world of work (No. 190) (Geneva, 21 June 2019) (C.190) to the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties. 

The ACTU and its affiliates have long been calling for stronger and more effective measures to prevent, address and redress all forms of violence, harassment and discrimination at work and at home. The union movement has campaigned for stronger provisions under anti-discrimination, industrial relations and work health and safety laws, including as part of the National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces conducted by the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) which resulted in the Respect@Work Report and its 55 recommendations. Ratification of C.190 was one of the recommendations of the Respect@Work Report. Since the publication of the Report, unions have been calling for the recommendations to be implemented, and the Government has committed to the implementation of all 55 recommendations.  

For over a decade, unions campaigned for, and won, the right to take paid family and domestic violence leave in workplaces across the country, resulting in over six thousand employers (including all State and Territory Governments) providing the right to 1.2 million workers. The ultimate aim of the union campaign – a universal entitlement accessible to all workers in the National Employment Standards – has recently been achieved with the passing of the Fair Work Amendment (Paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave) Bill 2022. 

The ACTU was also involved in the Standard-Setting discussions for C.190 at the International Labour Conferences in 2018 and 2019, and voted for the adoption of the new Convention and its accompanying Recommendation 206 (R.206). 

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that ratification of C.190 and R.206 is more important than ever. COVID-19 has had a disproportionate impact on women and has increased the risk of gendered violence, both at work and home. Frontline workers faced increased risks of violence and harassment, and rates of domestic and family violence spiked around the world. The ACTU is pleased to see that the Government has committed to the ratification and implementation of C.190 and R.206, and we urge that this occur as a matter of priority, so that Australia can adequately respond to violence and harassment at work in a nationally consistent way, and consistent with International Labour Standards.