Sexual harassment taskforce launched for mining

The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) is introducing a taskforce to respond to sexual harassment in the mining sector, expanding its safety focus to “the safety of a whole person”.

The decision was sparked after the Australian Human Right’s Commission’s Respect@Work Sexual harassment National Inquiry (2020) uncovered that 40 per cent of mining sector employees experienced sexual harassment in the past five years.

This ranked mining in the “substantially higher” category of 40 per cent or more, above the rate of 31 per cent across all industries in Australia.

The report also found that the likelihood of sexual harassment at work against women in mining is 74 per cent, more than twice of that for men (32 per cent).

MCA chief executive Tania Constable said the industry must take stronger action and lead a decisive response in abolishing sexual harassment from all mining sector workplaces.

She described the report findings around sexual harassment-related behaviour in the mining industry as “unacceptable” and “illegal”, vowing that the MCA would work together with mining companies to eradicate it.

“The Safe, Healthy and Respectful Workplaces policy is focussed on building and sustaining respectful workplaces,” Constable said.

“Following the release of the (Respect@Work) report, the MCA established a taskforce to broaden is safety and healthy policy and develop a commitment to eliminating sexual harassment.

“The taskforce reports to the MCA National Safety and Health working group, building on the minerals sector’s strong and positive safety culture.

“Our workers are our greatest asset and must be valued, respected and protected.”

Workplace settings that are considered male dominated, such as mining, are more prevalent to sexual harassment due to the gender ratio, over-representation of men in senior leadership roles, the work nature being considered ‘non-traditional’ for women and a masculine workplace culture, according to the Respect@Work 2020 report.

“We are a very male-dominated industry and organisation,” one of the respondents stated in the report.

“It’s only recently that women have even been legally allowed in certain mining areas, so it creates a boys’ club culture. That creates a bravado among men that they wouldn’t necessarily have in a different environment.”

In 2018-19, women made up just 16 per cent of workers in the mining industry, according to figures from the ABS Gender Indicators November 2019.

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