What is sexual harassment?
Sexual harassment is unlawful under both Victorian and Commonwealth law.
In section 92 of the Equal Opportunity A written law made by parliament. Also called an ‘Act of parliament’, ‘statute’ or legislation. 2010 (Vic) (‘EO Act’), ‘sexual harassment’ is defined as behaviour such as unwelcome sexual advances, unwelcome requests for sexual favours, and unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that would make a person feel offended, humiliated or intimidated. This can be done physically, verbally or in writing, and either in front of a person or about them to others.
Kinds of sexual harassment are listed in sections 93 to 102 of the EO Act and in sections 28B to 28L of the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth).
Sexual harassment can occur:
- at work;
- in industrial organisations (e.g. unions);
- in qualifying bodies (e.g. professional organisations);
- in schools;
- in clubs (e.g. social, literary, cultural, political, sporting, athletic);
- in providing accommodation;
- in local government (e.g. local council);
- in providing goods or services.
What can you do about sexual harassment?
If you feel safe, you can approach the management of the organisation to make a complaint about how this behaviour is affecting you, making it clear that it is making you feel offended, humiliated or intimidated.
If you have been sexually harassed, you can complain to the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (see ‘Contacts’ at the end of this chapter) or the Australian Human Rights Commission (www.humanrights.gov.au).
If you are being sexually harassed at work, you may also be subject to workplace bullying. For more information about workplace bullying, see Chapter 11.7: Occupational health and safety.
If the person who is sexually harassing you is a family member, or a partner (either a current or former partner), you can apply for a A court order made to protect a family member from violence, intimidation or harassment by restraining a person from harmful or annoying conduct towards that family member. See also intervention order..
If the person who is sexually harassing you is not a family member or a partner, you can apply for a A court order made to protect a person from violence, intimidation or harassment by someone who is not a family member. See also intervention order; family violence intervention order..
To apply for these orders, visit your local Magistrates’ An independent body that hears legal claims brought by parties and decides between them. Serious cases are heard by a judge and jury, or just a judge. Less-serious cases are heard by a magistrate. (to find your nearest court, visit www.mcv.vic.gov.au/going-court/find-court).
For more information about family violence and personal safety, see Chapter 4.4: Family violence.