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Respect and responsibility in the workplace

We are all responsible for standing up against bullying, harassment, discrimination and violence.

Under Work, Health and Safety and anti-discrimination laws, employers have a legal duty to provide a safe workplace. This includes protecting employees from physical and psychological harm, preventing serious incidents, and fostering a culture of respect.

Fostering respect and responsibility in the workplace has never been more important. Over the past decade, numerous reports have exposed the need to call out and address unacceptable workplace behaviours. For example, the Australian Human Rights Commission’s (AHRC) landmark national inquiry into workplace sexual harassment revealed that it was widespread and pervasive; occurring in every industry, in every location and at every level.

From an organisational perspective, such insights pose significant risks to everyone involved, not to mention the fall out cost to the employers through lost productivity, high staff turnover, complaints, litigation, workers’ compensation claims, reputational damage, and toxic work cultures.

To mitigate these risks, it’s important for leaders and teams to review the organisational values and code of conduct, and to understand the organisation’s expectations and requirements regarding:

  • workplace safety and respect,

  • workplace communications and behaviours,

  • bystander actions, reporting and disclosure,

  • the proper handling of conflict, complaints and grievances,

  • differing roles and responsibilities,

  • legal considerations, support resources, and more.

The Respect at Work Act 2022 introduced a new positive duty on employers to prevent and eliminate discrimination, workplace sexual harassment and victimisation in the workplace. This means proactive and meaningful action must be taken to prevent these unlawful behaviours regardless of whether someone has made a complaint.

The Respect@Work Council and the AHRC recognises ongoing staff education as a key control measure in preventing serious workplace incidents such as sexual harassment.

Training programs on sexual harassment, bullying and discrimination should never be a one-fits-all approach. It's important for programs to be targeted to the people in your organisation. For example:

  • Board members, executive management and senior leaders need to understand their governance responsibilities and make high-level decisions on preventing and responding to serious workplace incidents.

  • All employees need to understand the organisational values, rules, expectations and consequences around workplace attitudes and behaviours.

  • Managers and supervisors need to competently role model behaviours, reinforce expectations, call out poor behaviours and normalise discussions about sexual harassment, bullying and discrimination.

  • Contact officers, HR professionals, and WHS representatives need to know how to sensitively and safely triage reports or disclosures and provide appropriate support.

WorkPlacePLUS offers an in-depth and interactive training and development program for managers and employees called RESPECT & RESPONSIBILITY.

RESPECT & RESPONSIBILITY goes beyond the usual bullying, harassment and discrimination session by promoting your organisational values, effective communication and a positive workplace culture, while providing an understanding of relevant legislation and organisational policies. Our live, face-to-face delivery method is crucial to every organisation’s staff education strategy, as participant questions can be answered in real time and various practical examples can be explored during the training.

The team at WorkPlacePLUS has extensive experience delivering training and development programs to businesses and organisations around Australia, from private practices and SMEs to multi-site hospitals, community organisations, and government services. Our facilitators are professional HR consultants.

Are you ready to challenge your workplace culture?

For more information or to book your training program, please contact us today.


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