UnionsWA has today commented on the release by the WA Government of its response to the ‘Enough is Enough’ Parliamentary Inquiry Report. UnionsWA has welcomed the report and the response by government but warned other employers that there is a need for action to prevent and address workplace sexual assault in other sectors such hospitality, agriculture and retail, among others.
Owen Whittle, Secretary, UnionsWA, said:
“It is important to recognise those brave women who gave evidence to media or before this Inquiry, without their courage more women would be suffering the trauma of sexual assault or rape now or face those dangers in the future.
“The response by government to this report is welcome and unions calls on the resources sector to act quickly.
“These FIFO measures to prevent sexual assault are welcome and should be the start of as renewed effort across the wider workforce aimed at prevention.
“We know that too many, mostly women in the workforce, are harmed by sexual assault or bullying in their workplaces, including those in hospitality, agriculture, and retail.
“The current FIFO Mentally Healthy Workplaces Code has been hampered due to lack of compliance and enforcement.
“If this code had been complied with by industry, we would have had a better framework to respond to sexual harassment and assault in the resources sector far earlier.”
“The importance of the recently enacted Work, Health and Safety Act cannot be understated, we hope this will lead to greater penalties in the future for non-compliance.
“Doing so is in the interests of justice, the health and wellbeing of women workers and to build a reputation for the resources sector as an employer of choice.
“The announcement to commence work on a Construction and Resources Accommodation Code is a particularly important measure and one long called for by the trade union movement.
“For too long the infrastructure and management of remote FIFO sites have been closer to a boot camp than a home away from home.
“Focus needs to be on the security and safety of these camps, along with a focus to build quality facilities that lead to better workplace cultures and provide a positive work environment.
“Research into the mental health impact of FIFO work points to harm to the workforce when camps are managed in an authoritarian manner – such abuse can lead to further abuse.
“Camps need to create a sense of community and mutual respect.”