Program to address workplace sexual harassment

The Western Australian Government has established a new program to address workplace sexual harassment and assault in the mining industry.

The Mental Awareness, Respect and Safety (MARS) program will be funded with an initial $1.9 million, and will also boost responses to mental health, drug and alcohol use, as well as other health and safety issues in the mining industry.

“This $1.9 million funding allocation will support the first phase of the MARS program to address serious mental health, workplace culture and mine safety issues,” Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston said.

The initiative will enhance the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety’s (DMIRS) enforcement model and processes for responding to incidents of sexual harassment and assaults.

DMIRS will manage the MARS program in partnership with the Mental Health Commission, the Equal Opportunity Commission and the Women’s Interests Minister.

“The level of underreporting of sexual assault and harassment in the mining and resources sector is completely unacceptable,” Women’s Interests Minister Simone McGurk said.

“The McGowan Government is acting to ensure workers – especially those working on mine sites – are safe and protected at work.”

The WA Government has implemented the 12 Respect@Work report recommendations that apply to the state and has developed WA’s first whole-of-government Sexual Violence Prevention Strategy.

This first phase of the MARS Program is scheduled to commence in 2022.

More safety laws for the state have been announced this week, with Minister Stephen Dawson advising that Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws will come into effect in March 2022.

The new laws will bring together WHS for general industry, mines and petroleum and geothermal operations under a single WHS Act.

Throughout January and February 2022, DMIRS will hold a series of information update sessions in the metropolitan and regional areas.

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