Tuesday, 27 August 2019 06:13

Review into Victoria Police sets benchmark for addressing workplace harm and gender inequality

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission has released the third report from its independent review into sex discrimination and sexual harassment in Victoria Police. The report identifies the significant progress Victoria Police has made on gender equality since 2015, while highlighting the ongoing work and commitment needed to stamp out workplace harm.

Beginning in 2014, this landmark research has provoked widespread and meaningful change in Victoria Police, focused on creating safe, equal and respectful workplaces for all employees.

"Victoria Police took decisive action to address widespread structural and systemic discrimination against women. Cultural change requires strong leadership, and Victoria Police’s leaders demonstrated the courage of their convictions and invited the Commission to conduct this comprehensive review,” said Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner Kristen Hilton.

Victoria Police has made significant progress, having implemented 80 per cent of the Commission’s recommendations from the first phase of the review to a moderate or higher extent.

"There are now more women in senior leadership roles than ever before. Women are being paid more fairly, with an almost two per cent reduction in the gender pay gap. Women also have better access to professional development and their voices and experiences are being listened to,” said Commissioner Hilton.

"Across the organisation, more men and women are accessing flexible work arrangements (up almost 20 per cent overall) and have reported positive changes that are increasing their sense of safety and belonging at work.”

Commissioner Hilton said that it is extremely impressive that more than 19,000 employees (92 per of the workforce had recently received targeted online education about sex discrimination and sexual harassment and their impacts on individuals and the organisation. "So much about understanding and dealing with inequality is about training your capacity to notice it," Commissioner Hilton said.

However, survey results in the report show that there are still unacceptable rates of workplace harm within Victoria Police. One quarter of female employees (599) and almost one in 10 male employees (344) who responded to the Commission’s survey had experienced sexual harassment in the past three years. The Commission also found ongoing, systemic discrimination against women within Victoria Police.

"Victoria Police has been serving the community for 167 years. The harmful systemic and cultural issues that we identified in 2015 have been developed over this history and will take time to address and change. The good news is we are already beginning to see transformative change across the organisation, and the foundations for embedding gender equality are now in place,” said Commissioner Hilton.

"Victoria Police plays a critical role in responding to gendered violence in the community – on any given day, 40 to 60 per cent of Victoria Police call outs are in response to family violence. So, addressing gender inequality in its workplaces is not just vital for improving the experience of individual employees, but also for improving the organisation’s ability to serve the Victorian community.

"Victoria Police’s results so far are a clear demonstration of the change that is possible when an organisation takes their positive duty under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 to prevent discrimination and harassment seriously,” said Commissioner Hilton. "Victoria Police is not the only workplace facing these problems; we invite other organisations to follow Victoria Police’s lead and review their workplace with independence and expertise.”

Victoria Police employees who have experienced discrimination or harassment can make a complaint to the Commission on 1300 292 153 or via our online complaint form. The Commission offers a free, fair and timely dispute-resolution service that can help to resolve complaints of discrimination and harassment.

Read the full report

Restorative Engagement and Redress Scheme 

In December 2019, the Victorian Government's Restorative Engagement and Redress Scheme was implemented, offering support, restorative engagement or financial redress for current and former police employees who experienced sexual harassment or sex discrimination in the course of their work. The scheme operates independently of Victoria Police and was one of the recommendations from the Commission’s independent review.

More information about the Restorative Engagement and Redress Scheme

Media contact

Peter Davies
0447 526 642
Email: [email protected] 

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