Australia will launch a “world-first” independent national inquiry into sexual harassment in the workplace, the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) announced on Wednesday.
“The 12-month investigation follows the recent #MeToo movement which has helped bring to light the global prevalence of women being sexually harassed and assaulted,’’ inquiry leader and sex discrimination commissioner Kate Jenkins said.
“The timing was right, the appetite for change is there and we have all the functions to make sure we can help Australia lead the globe on finding new solutions for sexual harassment.
“The ultimate aim is to have much better guidance on how to prevent and respond to sexual harassment in the current climate,’’ Jenkins added.
According to AHRC, the Commission is not aware of any other countries where a national inquiry or similar process has been established in response to #MeToo.
Minister for Women Kelly O’Dwyer told newsmen the inquiry, which will cost one million Australian dollars (738,000 dollars), is a “world first.”
“We can’t find any other country that’s looking at this issue in such a comprehensive manner,’’ she added.
According to O’Dwyer, the government has given all the support that we can in order to make sure that this is not only a significant inquiry for us in Australia.
However, there will probably be some learnings that other countries can take from it as well.
According to government data, over 20 percent of people over 15 years old in Australia have been sexually harassed with 68 percent of the harassment occurring in the workplace.