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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 03 Hansard (Tuesday, 30 March 2021) . . Page.. 635 ..


be amended to achieve substantive equity between women and men by expressly prohibiting sex-based harassment; prohibiting the creating of, or facilitation of, an intimidating, hostile, humiliating or offensive environment on the basis of sex; including the definition of “workplace participation” and “workplace” to cover all persons in the world of work; and removing the current exemption of state public servants.

Ms Orr’s motion notes that Australia used to be at the forefront of efforts to end sexual harassment in the workplace. The 1984 Sex Discrimination Act was a large part of these efforts. The ACT Sex Discrimination Act 1991 makes it unlawful for an employer to subject an employee, including a person seeking employment, to sexual harassment. The Discrimination Act also makes it unlawful for employees to subject a fellow employee or a person seeking employment with the same employer to sexual harassment. The Discrimination Act expressly provides coverage for all workplace participants, which includes an employer, an employee, a commissioned agent, a contract worker or a partner in a partnership.

In 2018 Marie Boland undertook a review of the model work health and safety laws. Ms Boland made 34 recommendations, one of which addressed specifically the lack of regulatory support to control psychosocial risks of injury. The Boland review further recommended a continuous assessment process to critically assess where there is a need for legislative change and the introduction of new regulations and model codes to address emerging and changing risks. The Boland review identified that women, both prior to and returning from maternity leave, were often vulnerable to inappropriate behaviour which posed significant risk to their psychological health.

As the Minister for Industrial Relations and Workplace Safety, I am pleased to be able to provide the ACT government’s in-principle support for implementing the Boland review’s recommendations, in particular, those that provide for improved regulations for psychological health hazards in the workplace.

The ACT government is committed to maintaining the agreed national work health and safety model laws. However, in the absence of national action, the ACT will look to initiate early adoption of recommendations made by the Boland review and the Human Rights Commission in the territory.

Work health and safety ministers across Australia are meeting in the next month to consider a national response to the Boland review recommendations. I hope that the new federal Minister for Industrial Relations is ready to protect the rights of workers to be safe at work. She certainly could not be more dangerous to women’s safety than her predecessor. However, given that this important review has been before the federal government for some two years with no action taken, it is unlikely. That is why Ms Orr’s motion today is so important. The federal government has shown time and again that women’s safety and workplace rights are not a matter they take seriously. The ACT government takes this extremely seriously, and I look forward to delivering on the measures Ms Orr brings forward in her motion.

The respect at work national inquiry, which has been before the federal government for over a year, recommended that the Australian government ratify the ILO


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