Earlier this year, the Respect@Work – National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces, conducted by the Australian Human Rights Commission made key recommendations addressing psychological health and sexual harassment in Australian workplaces. Specifically the inquiry recommended:
- the model WHS Regulations should be amended to address psychological health by identifying and appropriately controlling work-related psychosocial risks (consistent with the 2018 Boland Review recommendations); and
- WHS Ministers develop guidelines or Codes of Practice on sexual harassment, allowing it to be dealt with in a ‘consistent, robust or systemic way’.
Since the publication of the Inquiry’s final report, SafeWork NSW and WorkSafe Victoria have released draft Codes of Practice and guidelines addressing psychological health, sexual harassment, violence and aggression in the workplace.
New South Wales – Draft Code of Practice, Managing the risks to psychological health
SafeWork NSW has published a draft Code of Practice on managing the risks to psychological health, the first of its kind in any Australian state or territory. The Code of Practice broadly explains psychological health risks and provides practical guidance on how to achieve compliance with WHS laws by identifying and managing psychological risks in all NSW workplaces.
The draft code highlights that employers must seek to eliminate exposure to hazards that create risks to psychological health by “designing or redesigning” and managing the work and working environment, “so the risk is no longer present”, where reasonably practicable.
The draft code identifies that a common failure in the existing psychological risk management process is to focus on poor behaviour between individuals, rather than implementing controls that target the source of the stressor(s). The draft code notes that many employers have to date relied exclusively on policies and training to control risks to psychological heath, and have not utilised more effective risk control measures, such as solid organisational work design.
The draft code is currently under review by SafeWork NSW. You can read the draft code and updates regarding the implementation of the draft Code here.
Victoria – Guide for employers on work-related gendered violence, including sexual harassment
In March 2020, WorkSafe Victoria released a guide to help employers respond to work-related gendered violence including sexual harassment.
The guide outlines the duties of employers under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 and the Equal Opportunity Act 2010, and provides practical guidance about how to prevent work-related gendered violence (including a Checklist you can use to scan your workplace culture).
You can access the guide here.