WA govt launches new anti-harassment program for mining sector

THE Western Australian government has announced a new program, Respect in Mining, to address sexual harassment and violence in the resources industry following the release of last year's Enough is Enough report.
WA govt launches new anti-harassment program for mining sector WA govt launches new anti-harassment program for mining sector WA govt launches new anti-harassment program for mining sector WA govt launches new anti-harassment program for mining sector WA govt launches new anti-harassment program for mining sector

Bill Johnston and Sue Ellery

Yiying Li


The 12-month pilot program aims to increase awareness and knowledge of the impact of gender inequality on women workers' safety and divided leadership within the resources sector.

It comes just a year after Australia's biggest oil and gas company Woodside Energy fired 12 employees for improper conduct. Seven of the employees were fired over sexual harassment. Another five were fired for bullying and three for "conflicts of interest".

In its last annual report, Woodside said it had investigated 36 complaints of "improper workplace behaviour" and found misconduct across 24.

Based on the principles of the Department of Communities' Respectful Relationships programs, Respect in Mining is also an initiative under the Mental Awareness, Respect and Safety project.

The state government funded Curtin University to research and develop practical tools for resource companies to use in this program.

Those tools are expected to provide supporting guidance on reviewing the new policies and procedures and monitoring the practice in the workplace.

Miner Gold Fields will participate in the pilot program, due to commence early next year, across its WA operations.

Women's interests minister Sue Ellery said at the Mining Industry Summit 2023 that the program was a template for the resources sector to address workplace sexual harassment.

"Providing them with resources, like templates on how to do an audit of sexual harassment matters," Ellery said.

"Template policies on how to deal with resistance in the workplace and all that kind of backroom Human Resources material that you don't necessarily expect a small to medium-sized company to have.

"The summit today it's not the end of the exercise," Ellery said. "It is a milestone point along the journey, and the launch of the respective mining program, I'm sure, will help us learn (and) do evaluations."

Ellery said Gold Fields' participation would help the government to adjust and make resources available to the industry accordingly as the testing goes.

"So part of the practical resources will be provided to Gold Fields Australia in that they'll test a range of policies and templates.

"It's a template policy to say these are the steps that you need to take; here's how to do it in a way that allows people to make disclosures but in a way where they feel safe to do that.

"And if you get disclosures, here are the steps to take in the referrals to make sure that you're dealing with that properly and sensitively.

Ellery said this pilot program's point was to test whether it is easy for the company to use and works for the workforce."

Meanwhile, the minister for energy Bill Johnston has also launched a new campaign to help victims who experienced workplace sexual harassment.

The SPEAK UP, REPORT IT campaign provides WorkSafe WA's 24/7 hotline to encourage people, who can remain anonymous, to report workplace harassment or bullying to the regulator.

"This line can be used by a victim of sexual harassment, by a bystander witness who sees sexual harassment that they consider inappropriate behaviour, and of course by management to fulfil their responsibilities to report sexual harassment to the regulator," Johnston said.

"We all understand that to eliminate the sexual harassment or sexual harassment starts with disrespect, he said, "We know that this whole society needs to change attitudes to provide greater respect to women.

"Roughly 20% of the resources industry being women, we can see that we're missing out on many skills that are required for the sector."

Anyone is asked to call 1800 678 198 regarding workplace harassment and inappropriate behaviours.