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Safe Stations: Sexual Harassment

Holly Friedlander Liddicoat, 18th July 2018
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Research by the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) shows 48% of women working in media have experienced intimidation, abuse or sexual harassment in the workplace and this troubling statistic hasn't changed much over the last two decades.

In community radio, we are media organisations and we must contribute to an inclusive and cohesive Australian community - both within our stations for staff and volunteers and outside for our listeners and communities.

The CBAA is currently developing resources to support stations to implement safe workplace practices and cultivate a culture and environment in which all staff and volunteers feel protected. The first of these is below - definitions to help community broadcasters understand sexual harassment and its legal implications in community radio stations. 

What is sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment is: "Any unwanted or unwelcome sexual behaviour, which makes a person feel offended, humiliated or intimidated. Sexual harassment is not interaction, flirtation or friendship which is mutual or consensual."

Sexual harassment can take many forms – it can be obvious or indirect, physical or verbal, repeated or one-off and perpetrated by males and females against people of the same or opposite sex.

Sexual harassment may include:

  • Staring or leering
  • Unnecessary familiarity, such as deliberately brushing up against you or unwelcome touching
  • Suggestive comments or jokes
  • Insults or taunts of a sexual nature
  • Intrusive questions or statements about your private life
  • Displaying posters, magazines or screen savers of a sexual nature
  • Sending sexually explicit emails or text messages
  • Inappropriate advances on social networking sites
  • Accessing sexually explicit internet sites
  • Requests for sex or repeated unwanted requests to go out on dates
  • Behaviour that may also be considered to be an offence under criminal law, such as physical assault, indecent exposure, sexual assault, stalking or obscene communications.
What the law says about sexual harassment
Sexual harassment is a type of sex discrimination.

The Sex Discrimination Act 1984 makes sexual harassment unlawful in a number of areas, including employment.

A person who sexually harasses someone else is primarily responsible for their behaviour.

Any individual will usually be personally liable for their own unlawful acts under the Sex Discrimination Act. The individual can be held responsible for their behaviour through an internal complaint process, by being the subject of a complaint to the Human Rights Commission or a state or territory anti-discrimination agency, or through legal proceedings before the Federal Court of Australia or Federal Magistrates Court.

Organisations can also be held liable for sexual harassment.

Organisations may also be held liable for the sexual harassment of their employees, agents (including volunteer workers, holders of unpaid honorary positions and members of the board of directors) and contractors unless they can show that reasonable steps were taken to prevent the harassment from occurring1

Get resources and templates for your station.

Five tips to prevent sexual harassment at your station
  1. Get support from the board and senior staff or volunteers to develop and take steps to prevent sexual harassment.
  2. Ensure your station has a sexual harassment policy and that it's communicated clearly and accessible to all volunteers and staff.
  3. Provide regular information and training to all staff and volunteers. This could be included in volunteer induction, and you could put up posters in the station, for example.
  4. Create and nurture a positive station culture and environment.
  5. Promote gender equality.

This information has been collated from resources shared by the Human Rights Commission www.humanrights.gov.au and research by the MEAA: Women in Media Report - A study of gender differences in Australian media, 2015 and following an earlier survey undertaken in 1996 www.womeninmedia.net

This article was originally published in the April 2018 edition of CBX Magazine.

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