WA launches inquiry into sexual harassment on mine sites

WESTERN Australian Parliament’s Community Development and Justice Standing Committee has launched a formal inquiry into sexual harassment against women in the fly-in, fly-out mining industry.
WA launches inquiry into sexual harassment on mine sites WA launches inquiry into sexual harassment on mine sites WA launches inquiry into sexual harassment on mine sites WA launches inquiry into sexual harassment on mine sites WA launches inquiry into sexual harassment on mine sites

A number of allegations of sexual assault in WA mine camps have emerged in recent weeks

It comes after a number of sexual assault allegations on Pilbara mine sites.

Liberal MP Libby Mettam, who led calls for an inquiry, will chair it.

The committee will consider if there is a clear understanding of the prevalence, nature, outcomes and reporting of sexual harassment in FIFO workplaces.

It will look at if existing workplace characteristics and practices, including workplace culture, rosters, drug and alcohol policies and recruitment practices, adequately protect against sexual harassment.

The inquiry will also ask if current legislation, regulations and policies are adequate and what actions are being taken by the industry.

Written submissions are being invited from the public and participants will be given the option to appear before the committee or keep all or part of submissions private, including keeping identities confidential.

Submissions to the inquiry are due by August 6.

The Chamber of Minerals and Energy of WA said ensuring the health and safety of people working in the resources sector was its utmost priority, and reiterated its intention to fully participate in the inquiry.

"As I've said previously, any instances of rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment are totally unacceptable," CME CEO Paul Everingham said.

"We apologise to anyone who has experienced this type of behaviour in our sector. To all of those who have come forward to report it, we thank you for your bravery, and to those who previously haven't felt safe or supported enough to come forward, please know that we are committed to providing an environment in which you feel safe to do so.

"Our aim is for all women to feel safe on all of our sites and facilities across WA at all times."

Everingham said WA's resources sector would take on board any recommendations that may arise from the inquiry.

"We are committed to eliminating any instance of these behaviours in our workforce," he said.

"Our industry has long been recognised for our leading risk management capabilities and ability to respond rapidly to health and safety risks. We are working rapidly to apply these skills and expertise to ensure a swift and effective response and protect the safety of our people.

"To have fresh eyes from outside the sector look at how we manage our workforce and its safety is a healthy thing.

"Recommendations for change that are practical and which would achieve positive outcomes are certainly ones we would act upon."

Yesterday, the Minerals Council of Australia released a National Industry Code, which sets clear expectations on MCA member companies to develop a culture of respect while improving support for workers.

MCA member companies will be required to confirm their commitment to eliminating sexual harassment and adopting the code and will be encouraged to include the commitment and code on their websites and intranet sites.

"Sexual harassment causes profound physical, emotional and psychological impacts on those affected," MCA CEO Tania Constable said. 

"It is unacceptable, against the law and must be eliminated from our industry's culture and workplaces." 

The CME's Safe and Respectful Behaviors Working Group is working on its own initiatives, including a code of conduct and driving the implementation of a wide range of safety controls.

"It's not a direct result of recent media reporting into behaviours towards women in our sector but certainly those reports have brought the need for such a working group into sharper focus," Everingham said.