Hearings will be held in Wodonga next week for the national inquiry into sexual harassment in workplaces.
Albury-Wodonga has been chosen by the inquiry, headed by Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins, as an ideal regional location.
“We wanted to go to a few regional centres to hear what the experience was, and we chose Albury-Wodonga because there’s a lot of industries, manufacturing, and Defence,” Ms Jenkins said.
“I’ll have a consultation in Wodonga with employers, and a session which we call policy, but that’s really for anyone else who’s interested and people who have experienced harassment.
“I expect I’ll hear consistent themes, as I have done about 50 consultations already, and we know the statistics tell us that sexual harassment happens in pretty much every industry and the average across the country is one in three workers.”
The inquiry was launched in June last year following the results of a national survey involving 10,000 people.
It found 39 per cent of women and 26 per cent of men have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace in the last five years, and in 79 per cent of cases one or more of the perpetrators were male.
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Industries with high incidence included information, media and telecommunications (81 per cent of employees surveyed in this industry in the last five years), arts and recreation services (49 per cent), electricity, gas, water and waste services (42 per cent) and retail trade (also 42 per cent).
About one in five people made a complaint.
Ms Jenkins told The Border Mail any information received through hearings or submissions would be treated confidentially.
“We’re not a royal commission so people who’ve signed confidentiality agreements to settle sexual harassment claims can’t talk to us, and a number of organisations have agreed to waiver those,” she said.
“One of the things we’re really looking at is whether those confidentiality agreements are a good thing or adding to the problem.
“Our submissions and consultations end on February 28, so we’ll be pulling together those and the research to come up with what we will recommend to the government … sometime in the second half of this year.”
To coincide with the hearings on Thursday, Women’s Health Goulburn North East in partnership with Wodonga Council will hold a breakfast with Ms Jenkins, and a Masterclass in Gender Equity for Leaders and Human Resources Specialists.
To purchase tickets, visit www.purchase.thecubewodonga.com.au.
To register for the hearings visit www.humanrights.gov.au.