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.
You may also be able to claim compensation for what has happened. Call our team at Shine Lawyers, obligation-free, to find out if you have a claim or not.
Our offer to you
Common questions about Sexual harassment and abuse claims
If you have been sexually harassed, you can make a complaint via email to the Australian Human Rights Commission (Commonwealth) or the Equal Opportunity Commission (Queensland). This is free and easy to do.
Workplace sexual harassment may also be classed as workplace bullying and may be dealt with by the workplace authority in your state.
To contact the Australian Human Rights Commission’s National Information Service;
Call – Infoline: 1300 656 419 or (02) 9284 9888, TTY: 1800 620 241
Go online – Website: www.humanrights.gov.au, Make a complaint: www.humanrights.gov.au/complaints/lodging-your-complaint.
The Sexual Assault Support Service website also lists out services in your state which may be able to assist you, www.sass.org.au/directory/ .
The Australian Human Rights Commission website has a lot of material on sexual harassment and what you can do, along with a helpline for situations that may have become abusive and violent.
Sexual Assault & Domestic Violence National Help Line: 1800 Respect (1800 737 732)
Making a sexual harassment complaint: www.humanrights.gov.au/complaints/lodging-your-complaint
Extensive information on harassment: www.humanrights.gov.au/our-work/sex-discrimination/guides/sexual-harassment
For cases where bullying might be involved www.humanrights.gov.au/workplace-bullying-violence-harassment-and-bullying-fact-sheet
If you are a survivor of childhood abuse or trauma the Blue Knot Foundation provides support on 1300 657 380.
The complexity of this area of law means that there are a number of considerations when assessing each case.
- Has harm been caused?
- The circumstances that caused the harm
- The evidence that is available to support your claim
- The impact the harassment/abuse has had on your life
- Whether the legal time limitation period has expired
All of the evidence will be taken into account so that we can assess the options available to you, and provide guidance on your individual situation.
A number of factors are considered when looking at harassment claims, including;
- marital status
- sexual preference
- religious belief
- race, nationality or ethnic origin
- relationship between you and the harasser
The amount of compensation you can claim will depend on your situation at the time of the harassment.
You may be able to claim against an individual or an institution like a school, church, university or workplace. You can claim medical expenses and loss of income due to physical or emotional injuries.
We offer to work for you on a no win no fee basis, which means that you won’t pay any legal fees unless we are successful in getting you compensation.
Your fees will be determined by the amount of work required to bring your claim. We are transparent with respect to costs and undertaking work at highly competitive rates. We are also prepared to provide clients with an independent assessment of their fees.
The time limit to make a claim will depend on your individual circumstances and the type of claim that is best suited to you. Some of the relevant time limits are 6 months (for a workers’ compensation claim, 12 months (for a complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission, 3 years (for a personal injuries claim) or 3 years from the date you turned 18, if you were a child when the abuse happened.
However, it is It’s possible for a claim to be made outside the prescribed time limits and the laws about those time limits are changing, so you should get advice even if you think the time limit has passed.
Shine Lawyers is committed to lobbying that time limitations be waived for survivors of sexual abuse. We recommend that you seek legal advice as soon as possible to ensure your right to a claim is not lost due to a time limit.
Where you are located isn’t necessarily a barrier when it comes to obtaining the services of a lawyer. We’re experts when it comes to abuse related claims and we can help you get the compensation you deserve.
It doesn’t matter if you are located close or far away from a Shine Lawyers office – we will always provide the same, expert advice and manage your claim with the same level of quality and commitment.
Our compensation experts are in the following locations:
New South Wales
- Gold Coast
- Hervey Bay
- North Lakes
- Stones Corner
- Sunshine Coast
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