Politicians and judges to be included in Sex Discrimination Act, federal government announces

(ABC News)

The federal government will amend the Sex Discrimination Act to include politicians and judges, who have previously been exempt from the laws.

More than a year after receiving the Respect at Work report, the government has announced it will adopt the 55 recommendations either in full, in part or in principle.

Of the 55 it has agreed to 40, agreed in principle to five, agreed in part to one and noted nine.

Attorney-General Michaelia Cash said a series of legislative changes would be introduced into Parliament this year, aimed at strengthening protections against sexual harassment in the workplace.

What are the changes?

Significant changes to the Fair Work Act and the Sex Discrimination Act include:

  • MPs, judges and state public servants to be liable for and protected from sexual harassment in their workplace

  • Sexual harassment to be included as grounds, or a valid reason, for dismissal

  • Definition of "serious misconduct" in the Fair Work Act to include sexual harassment

  • A 'stop bullying order' to be available in the context of sexual harassment

  • Accepted complaints to the Human Rights Commission that occurred less than 24 months ago cannot be terminated on the grounds of time

Sex discrimination commissioner Kate Jenkins delivered the Respect at Work report in January 2020.

It found one in three people who had worked in the previous five years had been sexually harassed.

In announcing the government's response to the report, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said prevention must be the goal.

"Stop it before it starts," he said.

"This is a culture we have to change across our society."

Mr Morrison said the inclusion of politicians and judges in the Sex Discrimination Act was about getting everyone on a level playing field.

Senator Cash said sexual harassment was unacceptable in any context.

"We will be subject to the same law as anybody else, which means we'll be subject to the same consequences," Senator Cash said.

"Somebody can bring a complaint against you to the commission, if it's upheld it's upheld. if it's not, it's not."


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