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Gendered violence – your responsibilities as an employer

WorkSafe has recently launched a campaign to raise awareness of gendered violence in the workplace.

What is gendered violence?

Gendered violence is a serious health and safety issue – in every workplace. It is defined as:

Any behaviour, directed at any person, or that affects a person, because of their sex, gender or sexual orientation, or because they do not adhere to socially prescribed gender roles, that creates a risk to health and safety.

What constitutes gendered violence?

Gendered violence can take many different shapes and forms and can be both psychological and/or physical. It can include:
  • put downs, innuendo, and insinuations

  • sexually explicit gestures

  • verbal abuse, ostracism or exclusion

  • stalking, intimidation or threats

  • offensive language and imagery

  • being undermined in your role or position

  • sexual harassment, assault or rape

Importantly, gendered violence can also be experienced indirectly. For example, someone witnessing gendered violence or behaviours that are not directed towards them.

Employers are responsible for preventing gendered violence

As with all other risks to the health and safety of employees, Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act all employers have a duty to provide a safe work environment and protect their people from the risk of gendered violence.

That means that as an employer you have a legal obligation to actively manage and reduce or eliminate all risks to the health and safety of your people, so far as reasonably practical.

Like other physical and psychological risks, a structured approach needs to be taken to managing the risk of gendered violence in the workplace. This should involve a review of all existing safety management systems, processes and policies to ensure:
  • All risks to the health and safety of employees (physical and psychological) are identified.

  • Safety Management Systems, processes, policies and appropriate control measures are in place to reduce or eliminate all risks as far as reasonably practical.

  • Employees and contractors are trained, educated and informed about the risks that surround their work and the systems in place to protect them.

The WorkSafe website has more detailed information about gendered violence and your obligations as an employer see:

As specialist workplace risk management consultants our experienced Safety Management Consultants are well placed to assist you in reviewing and optimising your Safety Management systems to ensure you meet your duty of care, protect your people and power your business.

For more information call us on 03 9863 8408 or email


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