- Discussing sexual harassment with the Australian Human Rights Commission

In November 2017 the Australian Human Rights Commission held a seminar about sexual harassment and violence against women following the release of the AHRC report on sexual harassment in Australian tertiary institutions. The session was led my Maria Twomey,

The forum took place at Ernst and Young in Perth on 10 October and included participants from public and private sectors as well as universities.

Ms Twomey said the Change the course project into sexual harassment and assault in the Australian tertiary sector commenced at a time when the spotlight had been turned on domestic and family violence because of high profile advocates such as Rosie Batty.

She said there was now a better awareness of violence against women, and especially domestic and family violence, which continues to be endemic. She said in the previous two weeks in New South Wales alone, two women have been killed by their current or former partner, and a third one is in an induced coma in hospital after her throat was cut by her ex-partner.

One of the recommendations in the AHRC’s Change the Course report was for universities to engage individuals and organisations that developed and delivered education programs around sexual harassment and sexual assault.

Acting Commissioner John Byrne said the Commission had already developed a training course titled Sexual Harassment – Know where the line is, which aimed to help organisations identify sexual harassment and understand what was unlawful in the workplace.

Education is key to changing those attitudes and hopefully stopping the behaviours before they can cause harm,” he said.  

Following on from this report, the Commission’s Community Education team have run a number of sessions for various university bodies.