Government vows to reform sexual harassment and assault laws


The Federal Government says it will work to reform laws and regulations around sexual assault in response to a report on workplace harassment.

Under the proposed changes, sexual harassment will be grounds for dismissal from a workplace, while the scope of the Sex Discrimination Act will be extended to include judges and MPs.

The Human Rights Act will also be amended to allow victims two years to come forward, instead of the current six months.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has responded to a Respect@Work report.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has responded to the Respect@Work report. (Nine)

The government is also looking to add sexual harassment in the definition of serious misconduct to the Fair Work Act.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Attorney General Michaelia Cash outlined the changes as part of 55 recommendations the government is endorsing either in part or full from its Respect@Work report.

The report was released last January and the government adopted nine of its recommendations at the time.

However, today it responded to the report for a second time.

Speaking to reporters, Mr Morrison referenced statistics from the Australian Human Rights Commission, which said 39 per cent of women and 26 per cent of men have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace.

“The events around this building over the course of the past few months have only further highlighted and reinforced the seriousness of these issues, the challenge that we face and the great frustration that is felt by Australians and, in particular, women all over the country,” Mr Morrison said. 

“Sexual harassment is unacceptable.

“It’s not only immoral and despicable and even criminal, but particularly in the context of the respect at work report, it denies Australians, especially women, not just their personal security but their economic security by not being safe at work.”