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‘Disadvantage’ test could be removed for workers in poor conditions

FIFO workers
File photo of FIFO workers

Authorities might no longer require employees against substandard environments to prove they suffered damages.

Mine workers who accuse colleagues of sexual harassment may not need to demonstrate their reputation, credit or finances were impacted for much longer.

The Western Australian Government recently accepted 163 recommendations from the State Law Reform Commission’s report on making anti-discrimination laws fairer and more effective. This advice will help guide a new Equal Opportunity Act.

“Several key reforms are expected to be included in the bill including removing the outdated ‘disadvantage test’ for sexual harassment complainants, in line with the community development and justice standing committee’s report into sexual harassment against women in the fly-in fly-out mining industry, ‘Enough is Enough’,” the State Department of Justice said in a public statement.

State Attorney General John Quigley claims removing the disadvantage test requirement will improve workplace safety and help regulators take action against sexual and racial harassment allegations.

“This is not about granting additional rights to any one group of people but ensuring all … are free from discrimination, harassment, vilification and victimisation,” he said in a public statement.

Quigley wants to extend the harassment ban to volunteer, judicial and political workers too.

“[We propose] extending the prohibition against sexual and racial harassment to members of parliament and parliament staff, judicial officers and court staff, local government councillors and staff, and unpaid or volunteer workers,” he said.

He believes reading and understanding their legal rights and obligations will be much “easier” for individuals, employers and service providers once the bill is approved.

Meanwhile, the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) recently expressed disappointment over multiple sexual harassment, assault and bullying allegations across Queensland’s resources sector. The advocacy urged everyone who experienced substandard employment conditions to speak up.

“Sexual harassment and all disrespectful behaviour is unacceptable. There is no place for this behaviour in workplaces and across society,” MCA CEO Tania Constable said in a public statement.

“We encourage mining workers to come forward and report these incidents to their respective companies, so we can deal with them immediately and confidentially.”

Constable claimed mineral producers already respect and empower victims to raise concerns in a “supportive and protected way”.

“The National Industry Code on eliminating sexual harassment requires companies protect individuals from victimisation or reprisals,” she said.

The MCA Respect@Work Taskforce recently published expectations on hiring and promoting candidates who share respectful values. It also released guidance on sharing information about incidents, and preventing terminated offenders from moving to a different competitor.

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