Volunteering Australia and Justice Connect have made a joint Submission to the Australian Human Rights Commission’s National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces: Everyone’s Business – whether they’re paid or unpaid.
The submission highlights the inadequacy of the current legal framework in Australia to prevent and address sexual harassment against volunteers and other unpaid workers and recommends a way forward.
Gaps in the law produce unequal treatment between paid and unpaid workers (including volunteers) when it comes to sexual harassment, as well as unequal treatment of volunteers depending on where in Australia they volunteer. This has ramifications for the safety and wellbeing of volunteers and other unpaid workers, and sends a message they are valued less than paid workers.
“As a woman without paid employment, I cannot access the same protections or avenues of conciliation as my employed counterparts. It also creates a strange duality for the working woman: protected in the context of employment but outside of that realm, she’s fit for harassment.”
Set out in the submission are 4 recommendations. They a series of basic legal and policy reforms to ensure everyone in Australian workplaces has an enforceable legal right to be protected from sexual harassment – whether they are paid or unpaid; whether they are employees, volunteers or other unpaid workers.