Wednesday, 17 April 2019 13:43

Joint Publication - Practice Guidance: Understanding your rights in the workplace and Victorian anti-discrimination law

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission is pleased to have partnered with Our Watch in developing Practice Guidance: Understanding your rights in the workplace and Victorian anti-discrimination law.

The Practice Guidance supports workplaces to implement the Our Watch Workplace Equality and Respect Standards. The Standards are one part of the Workplace Equality and Respect project that was funded by the Victorian Government and led by Our Watch. Read more about the project

The Practice Guidance is one tool that has been developed to help employees better understand their legal rights to protection from discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation, and to a safe and healthy workplace.

What is the Workplace Equality and Respect project?

The Workplace Equality and Respect project, led by Our Watch, aims to equip Victorian workplaces with the knowledge, skills and resources they need to create gender equitable structures, norms and practices. 

Workplace Equality and Respect does not prescribe a specific program for workplaces. It outlines five standards to help workplaces recognise what is needed to:

  • secure the commitment of leaders and staff
  • ensure conditions support gender equality
  • reject sexist and discriminatory cultures
  • support staff who experience violence
  • integrate gender equality into their core business.

It also provides tools to support workplaces, including:

  • self-assessment 
  • implementation Guide
  • staff survey
  • resources including templates, best practice examples and guidance on a range of practice areas including communications, engaging leaders and dealing with backlash. 

Why workplaces?

Work can be fundamental to a sense of independence, financial security and participation in public life. Workplaces are also a key setting in the ongoing efforts to prevent violence against women.[1] Not only is the workplace a site where violence and harassment occurs, it is also a setting that can shape and reinforce broader social norms of non-violence and equity. 

Workplace environments that are safe, inclusive of women and encourage the participation and leadership of women at all levels reinforce social norms of respect, non-violence and equity.[2]

In addition, respectful and equitable workplaces also have clear organisational benefits, including:

  • improved staff morale, including job satisfaction, employee loyalty and staff retention
  • increased productivity
  • decreased staff turnover
  • reduced absenteeism
  • reduced operating costs
  • improved health and wellbeing of employees.[3]

Respectful and equitable workplaces are also more likely to proactively meet legal obligations as well as have a positive image and reputation. [4]

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission recognises the importance of improving workplace equality which is why we have included it as a strategic priority in our five-year Strategic Plan – Upholding Human Rights Close to Home.

The Commission commends Our Watch for its commitment to the prevention of violence against women and its work on the Workplace Equality and Respect project more broadly.

 

References

[1] Our Watch, Australia’s National Research Organisations for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) and VicHealth Change the story: A shared framework for the primary prevention of violence against women and their children in Australia (2015).  

[2] Our Watch, Australia’s National Research Organisations for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) and VicHealth Change the story: A shared framework for the primary prevention of violence against women and their children in Australia (2015).   

[3] Victorian Health Promotion Foundation, Preventing violence against women in the workplace (An evidence review: summary report) (2012) 10.

[4] Victorian Health Promotion Foundation, Preventing violence against women in the workplace (An evidence review: summary report) (2012) 10.

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