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Knife attack victim comes forward after work environment probe

CITIC Pacific Mining
CITIC Pacific Mining

A former employee accused a colleague of endangering her life with a blade at a major mining operation.

Anneka Truter claims a coworker raped her at knifepoint at CITIC Pacific Mining’s Sino Iron Mine in Mardie, 91km southwest of Karratha.

When Truter reported the incident nearly two years ago, her employer Compass allegedly let the kitchen worker go.

“[I] effectively lost my job,” she said according to Seven West Media.

The contractor, which no longer operates at the mine site, rejected this claim and stressed it correctly handled the woman’s complaint.

The exchange came days after Western Australia’s inquiry into sexual harassment against women in the fly-in fly-out mining industry recommended a sector-wide blacklist and public register for offenders.

The committee chaired by Libby Mettam acknowledged BHP, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) previously dismissed employees found guilty of creating a poor work environment. However, many of them were simply redeployed to different locations or hired by different employers.

This is why the committee proposed publicly shaming sexual predators, and giving recruiters an opportunity to check whether jobseekers were blacklisted.

“The industry must explore ways to prevent perpetrators of serious sexual harassment simply finding reemployment on other sites and in other companies … [and ensure] probity checks across the industry include consideration of harmful sexual behaviours, particularly for smaller companies and sub-contractors,” the committee’s final report said.

“We considered the value of establishing a register of offenders that could be accessed as part of the employment process – something like the safety white card or the working with children card.”

The probe also slammed the State Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety for only investigating 22 sexual assault allegations in the past seven years. The WA Police Force reportedly investigated 23 relevant complaints in just two years.

However, State Premier Mark McGowan refused to commit to overhauling the department, or establishing a special unit to deal with sexual assault. He hopes the resources sector will keep employees safe without increasing regulatory oversight.

“We are already doing a range of things … including employing WorkSafe inspectors,” he said according to the Australian Associated Press.

“The main obligation here is on the employers, it is [on] the mining companies. They make a lot of money out of WA and they have got to ensure workplaces are safe.”

McGowan also ruled out holding a royal commission into sexual harassment.

“I think we have enough reporting now,” he said according to the newswire agency.

“The time now is to work through those recommendations and implement as far as we possibly can.”

Nearly 260 individuals publicly complained about their time at BHP, Rio Tinto, FMG, DT Workforce and more.

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AMSJ April 2022