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Harassed at Work? How to Take Action in Australia

Experiencing workplace harassment is distressing, and it’s crucial to know that Australia has legal protections in place to address and combat this issue. If you’re being harassed at work, here’s how you can take action:

1. Identify and Document the Harassment: The first step is to recognize and document instances of harassment. Keep a detailed record of offensive comments, actions, or any inappropriate behavior directed at you or witnessed by you. Include dates, times, locations, and the names of those involved.

2. Check Workplace Policies: Review your workplace’s policies and procedures related to harassment. Most Australian employers are legally required to have anti-discrimination and harassment policies in place. Familiarize yourself with these policies to understand how to report harassment.

3. Report the Harassment: If you feel safe doing so, report the harassment to your immediate supervisor, HR department, or a designated workplace contact as per your organization’s policies. Follow the reporting procedure outlined in your workplace’s anti-harassment policy.

4. Seek Support: Reach out to colleagues or friends outside of work to share your experiences and feelings. Having emotional support can be crucial when dealing with workplace harassment.

5. Consult a Union (if applicable): If you’re a member of a union, contact your union representative for guidance and support. Unions often assist members in addressing workplace issues, including harassment.

6. Contact an Anti-Discrimination or Equal Opportunity Commission: In cases of discrimination or harassment based on protected characteristics (such as race, gender, disability, or age), you can contact your state-based anti-discrimination or equal opportunity commission. They can provide advice and assistance in filing a complaint.

7. Consult an Employment Lawyer: If the issue persists or if you face retaliation for reporting harassment, consult with an employment lawyer. They can provide legal advice, assess your situation, and help you explore legal remedies.

8. Keep Records: Continue to document all incidents related to harassment, including any actions taken by your employer in response to your complaint. This documentation can be crucial if you decide to pursue legal action.

9. Attend Mediation: In some cases, the commission or an external mediator may facilitate discussions between you and the alleged harasser to reach a resolution. This can be an alternative to formal legal action.

10. Pursue Legal Action: If other avenues do not lead harassed at work to a resolution, consider taking legal action through the relevant anti-discrimination or equal opportunity commission or by consulting an employment lawyer. Legal action may result in remedies such as compensation or orders to stop the harassment.

Remember, harassment is unacceptable in any workplace, and you have the right to a safe and respectful work environment. Taking action against harassment is not only essential for your well-being but also helps promote a culture of respect and equality in workplaces across Australia.

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