SDA and Australian Human Rights Commission Report: Workplace Sexual Harassment must be stopped

On Tuesday 29 October 2019, the SDA and the Australian Human Rights Commission launched a report on the prevalence, nature and reporting of sexual harassment in retail and fast food.

As part of this, the SDA and the Australian Human Rights Commission surveyed over 3,400 SDA members to find out about their experiences.

From this survey, we found 39% of retail and fast food workers have experienced workplace sexual harassment in the last five years. This is higher than the general workforce which is 33%.

Other preliminary findings from the report include:

  • Women are more likely to experience sexual harassment at work with 46% of women compared to 29% of men.

  • 1 in 3 women have experienced workplace sexual harassment in the last 12 months.

  • 3 in 5 women aged between 18 and 34 have experienced sexual harassment at work in the last five years.

  • The most common form of sexual harassment experienced is sexually suggestive comments or offensive jokes (24%)36% of harassment experienced was perpetrated by a customer.

  • Over half (53%) of the cases of sexual harassment lasted for more than six months.

  • 1/4  who experienced sexual harassment said it negatively impacts on their employment, career or work.

  • 44% who experienced sexual harassment said it caused mental health issues or stress, out of those 40% identified anxiety as the impact.

This survey also highlighted that many workers do not report sexual harassment, with only 13% making a formal report or complaint.

Additionally, 28% said where the harassment was formally reported there were no consequences for the perpetrator and 61% reported no change in their workplace.

There are several key actions we believe can help put an end to sexual harassment

Prevention: currently, there is no requirement for employers to proactively prevent sexual harassment towards their employees. Employers must put in place prevention strategies to stop the harassment from occurring in the first place.

Reporting: employers must make reporting sexual harassment easier for their employees and investigate and take appropriate action when incidents are reported so victims can feel safe and confident that they will be taken seriously.

A copy of the full report can be found here.

Sexual harassment is unacceptable and the SDA is working hard to eliminate it from workplaces

The SDA will be taking these survey results to employers as part of the next step to end sexual harassment in the retail and fast food industries.

If you are sexually harassed at work, contact the SDA for advice and support on 8139 1000.