McGowan Government responds to sexual harassment inquiry

All inquiry recommendations pertaining to the State Government supported
Date: Wednesday, 21 September 2022
  • McGowan Government outlines plans to tackle sexual harassment in mining industry
  • All inquiry recommendations pertaining to the State Government supported
  • Initiatives focus on prevention, support for victims and upskilling industry
  • Code of practice for mining and construction accommodation will be created
  • Additional support for community legal and advocacy service centre  
  • Work underway towards establishment of expert group within WorkSafe WA to respond to reports of sexual harassment and assault

The McGowan Government has outlined a wide range of actions to tackle sexual assault and sexual harassment in Western Australian workplaces in response to the parliamentary inquiry into the fly-in, fly-out mining industry.

Tabled in Parliament today, the McGowan Government has supported, or supported in-principle, all recommendations pertaining to the State Government.

The plans will be implemented across key areas such as primary prevention, data and research, a refocused regulatory framework and better support and advocacy for victims of workplace sexual harassment.

As part of the State Government’s response, a new Code of Practice will be developed to help improve security measures for workers staying at workplace accommodation.

This code will act as a minimum standard that employers must consider to ensure the safety of their workers living regionally or remotely.

The McGowan Government has also committed to funding a community legal and advocacy service centre to provide free guidance, information and referrals to affected Western Australians.

The State Government recognises the importance of providing victims of workplace sexual harassment with the opportunity to share their experiences, receive psychological support and promote healing.

In line with Recommendation 20, the McGowan Government has already committed to changing the law to bring WA’s definition of what constitutes sexual harassment in line with other Australian jurisdictions and to remove the ‘disadvantage test’ complainants.

The Government aims to introduce these legislative reforms early next year.

The McGowan Government also supports the recommendation to establish a fully resourced, culturally appropriate expert group within WorkSafe WA to investigate, assess and deal with reports of sexual harassment and assault offences in the sector.  

These initiatives build upon a number of existing programs the McGowan Government has been progressing. This includes the $8.4 million Mental Awareness, Respect and Safety (MARS) program that boosts responses to mental health, workplace culture and mine safety in WA’s mining sector.

The MARS program oversees a number of projects including the Respect in Mining pilot program, the Thrive at Work in Mining program and a landmark study into mental health, workplace culture and safety across Western Australia's mining sector.

Conscious of the landmark study being conducted by the Centre for Transformative Work Design and the regulatory review being undertaken by Elizabeth Shaw, the McGowan Government will further report to Parliament before the end of 2022.

The McGowan Government is building on its commitment to ensuring safe workplaces for all WA employees across all industries, including through implementing the Respect@Work report recommendations and developing Western Australia's first whole-of-government Sexual Violence Prevention Strategy.

The government’s response to the parliamentary inquiry is available at:

Comments attributed to Mines and Petroleum; Industrial Relations Minister Bill Johnston:

“The McGowan Government is strongly committed to providing safe and inclusive workplaces for all employees across Western Australia, regardless of industry or size.

“Most importantly, I want to acknowledge the bravery and resilience of the women who shared their stories with the parliamentary inquiry.

“We support, or in-principle support, all the report’s recommendations for Government and encourage industry to also consider how they can apply the report’s recommendations.

“I call on industry to ensure our mining sector is accountable and responsive to community standards.

“We need to work together to build a culture of respect as women have a right to work in safe workplaces that are free from sexual harassment.

“We cannot be complacent when it comes to inappropriate workplace behaviours; there is much to be done and the McGowan Government will continue to advocate for change.”

Comments attributed to Women's Interests Minister Simone McGurk:

“The McGowan Government is committed to stamping out sexual violence in the workplace – everyone has a right to feel safe and supported at work.

“We have a vicious cycle, where women aren’t attracted to work in the industry, let alone stay in the industry, because of inappropriate behaviour and a disregard of women’s experiences.

“We need more women to work in this sector and we need them to be treated with respect.

“It’s imperative the mining sector works with the State Government to lead cultural change and prioritise prevention and better supports for victim survivors.

“I would especially like to thank the women who spoke to the inquiry about their experiences – your courage will help make the industry safer for future generations.”