Awareness of sexual harassment and abuse has increased in Australian society in the last few years. According to the Australian Human Rights Commission, 1 in 5 women and 1 in 20 men will experience harassment in the workplace at some time. So what is sexual harassment and what can you do if you are experiencing it?
What constitutes sexual harassment?
According to the Australian Human Rights Commission, sexual harassment is any unwanted or unwelcome sexual behaviour which makes a person feel offended, humiliated or intimidated.
Sexual harassment may include physical or verbal acts such as inappropriate advances, intrusive questions, inappropriate comments, staring, touching, sexually explicit messages, requests for sex or unwanted date requests, physical assault, indecent exposure and stalking.
Where might you experience sexual harassment?
Most sexual harassment cases occur in the workplace. In 2009 to 2010, 21% of Australian Human Rights Commission complaints were sex related and 88% of those occurred in the workplace. However, sexual harassment can happen in public and private settings including school, university, sports teams, online or over the phone.
If you are experiencing sexual harassment or abuse there are a number of options available for reporting incidents, seeking advice and getting counselling and support. For further information see the Q&A below.
Making a claim for sexual harassment
If you, or someone you know have experienced sexual harassment, you can also seek legal advice.
There are time limits for making a claim for sexual harassment or abuse, so it is important that you seek advice at the earliest opportunity. The applicable time limit will depend on your particular circumstances and the type of claim to be made, and some time limits can be extended. Even if you think the relevant time limit has passed, you should still get advice.