Skip to main content

Respect@Work Industry Forum – Summary – 3 April 2023

Respect at work
Publication date

Monday 3 April 2023

Kate Jenkins AO, then Chair of the Respect@Work Council and Sex Discrimination Commissioner, opened the forum by acknowledging the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung and Bunurong Boon Wurrung people of the Eastern Kulin nation as the traditional custodians of the lands on which the event took place.

This was followed by a pre-recorded address by the Attorney-General, the Hon Mark Dreyfus KC MP, who provided an overview of the Government’s considerable legislative and regulatory reforms to respond to workplace sexual harassment and implement the Respect@Work Report. He also highlighted industry’s important role in facilitating these historic reforms and ensuring all workplaces are free from sexual harassment. The Attorney-General thanked former Commissioner Jenkins AO on behalf of the Government for the contribution she made to improving gender equality in Australia during year seven years as Sex Discrimination Commissioner.

Session 1: Supporting industry knowledge of Respect@Work laws

Session one presentations described the key legislative reforms to the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 and the new prohibition against sexual harassment in the Fair Work Act 2009.

Speakers included:

  • Kate Jenkins AO (then Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Australian Human Rights Commission)
  • Murray Furlong (General Manager, Fair Work Commission)
  • Sandra Parker PSM (then Fair Work Ombudsman)

Session 2: Supporting industry to prevent and address workplace sexual harassment

Presenters outlined the new model Work Health and Safety Regulations and model Code of Practice on psychosocial hazards and reporting requirements on gender equality indicators. They also reflected on embedding diversity practices beyond those just targeting workplace sexual harassment.

Speakers included:

  • The Hon Mary Wooldridge (Director, Workplace Gender Equality Agency)
  • Michelle Baxter PSM (Chief Executive Officer, Safe Work Australia)
  • Lisa Annese (Chief Executive Officer, Diversity Council Australia)

Session 3: Galvanising action – Spotlight on industry initiatives

Session three involved two panel discussions providing examples and best practice for implementing Respect@Work reforms and addressing workplace sexual harassment.

Panel participants included:

  • Senator the Hon Sue Lines (President of the Senate)
  • Caroline Cox (Chief Legal, Governance, and External Affairs officer, BHP)
  • Luke Cornelius (Assistant Commissioner, Victoria Police)
  • Kate Byrdy (Head of Human Resources, Bakers Delight)
  • Megan Davison (Principal Advisor and Executive Director, Minerals Council of Australia)
  • Louise Petschler (General Manager, Governance and Policy Leadership, Australian Institute of Company Directors)
  • Erin Keogh (Assistant Director, Campaigns, Australian Council of Trade Unions)

Watch a recording of session 3 of the Industry Forum

Final reflections

The event concluded with closing remarks from then Commissioner Jenkins AO, who reflected on the progress made to implement the Respect@Work Report as well as the important role of industry in bringing the reforms to life.