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Tuesday, 5 November 1996
Page: 5093

Senator MARGETTS(5.05 p.m.) —I move:

(3)      Paragraph 3(e), after "discrimination", insert "and workplace harassment".

   Replaces amendment (13) in document 183

Amendment 3 can be found on the Greens (WA) revised sheet 217. Amendment 3 on revised sheet 217 replaces our amendment 13 on sheet 183. This is our amendment in relation to the insertion of the concept of workplace harassment in the discrimination clause. Honourable senators will find the definition for workplace harassment on page 2 of our sheet 183. The reason for including workplace harassment in this bill is that, according to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, there is a growing incidence of harassment in the workplace. We feel there is a need for it to be dealt with in this bill.

Our sheet No. 183 states:

discrimination has the same meaning as in the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act 1986 .

workplace harassment means conduct by a person which:

   (a)   threatens, intimidates, offends or humiliates another person in the workplace; or

   (b)   is unwelcome and discriminatory in relation to another person in the workplace; or

   (c)   constitutes failure to take appropriate action to resolve workplace conflict;

in circumstances which a reasonable person, having regard to all the circumstances, would have anticipated as being threatening, intimidatory, offensive or humiliating to the person harassed.

What we have done in our amendment 3 is add `insert workplace harassment' after `discrimination', and I do not think that is an unreasonable thing to do. It is important that we provide some recognition and some legal remedy in relation to harassment in the workplace. Whilst we see that there are efforts to deal with workplace harassment—whether it is sexual harassment or harassment of any other kind within the workplace—there is the necessity, we believe, to be able to get a proper redress under law so that people are not treated unfairly in this way.

I commend to the Senate the inclusion of `workplace harassment'. I would like to see this supported because a number of groups in the community—women's groups, people with non-English speaking backgrounds and, as I say, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission—are looking to make improvements in these areas. I really think we need to move in that direction. Anti-discrimination commissions are looking carefully at issues of workplace harassment but it is not actually covered by the acts as they exist. Because of that, it is difficult for the various bodies to deal with these issues.

I would like there to be at least recognition that we should have some legal mention of workplace harassment. If we are trying to work towards workplaces that work and that are fair, it is not fair that people could legally, in any sense, continue to harass people in the workplace. Therefore, I would like support for the Greens' amendment to at least include that as something that is not part of what we should see as a good workplace environment.