Chapter 7: Sexual harassment
Sexual harassment and sexual assault can occur in any licensed venue, including live music venues. Sexual harassment and sexual assault can significantly impact upon the safety and well-being of patrons, and can deter people from going out to venues. Patrons can often feel reluctant to speak up if someone is harassing them. There are many steps that venues can take to help prevent sexual harassment and sexual assault, to intervene when it is occurring, to encourage patrons to report incidents to staff, and to respond appropriately when a patron has been harassed or assaulted. By taking action against sexual harassment and assault, venues can help to create safer spaces for everyone to enjoy their night out.
As a workplace, you are required to adhere to the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth) and the Anti-Discrimination Act 1992 (NT). These laws make it unlawful for a person to sexually harass another person in a number of areas including employment, education, the provision of goods and services and accommodation. Employees may also have a claim under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) General Protections and Unfair Dismissal.
Furthermore, under Work Health and Safety laws, an employer must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of its workers. An employer who fails to maintain a safe workplace may be liable under the common law or under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Cth) or equivalent state or territory law.
Accordingly, employers who fail to take reasonable steps to prevent the foreseeable risk of the harm created by sexual harassment may be in breach of the obligation to ensure a healthy and safe work environment and safe systems of work.
According to the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), sexual harassment is any unwanted or unwelcome sexual behaviour that makes a person feel offended, humiliated or intimidated. Sexual harassment is not interaction, flirtation or friendship which is mutual or consensual. Sexual harassment is a type of sex discrimination.
Sexual assault is an offence under the Criminal Codes Act 1983 (NT). Any suspected or alleged incidents of sexual assault should be treated and responded to seriously. Sexual assault is any sexual activity a person has not consented to. Sexual assault can refer to a broad range of sexual behaviours that make a person feel uncomfortable, frightened or threatened.
- To actively prevent instances of sexual harassment and assault at a venue, adoption of a zero tolerance policy for all forms of sexual harassment and assault, between patrons, staff, performing artists, security, or any other person engaged to work at, or visiting the venue is required.
- Recognition that women, and people of diverse gender and sexualities, are primarily the target of sexual harassment and assault by men. However, both can occur to any person, regardless of gender or sexuality.
- Venue owners should not direct staff to flirt with patrons and/or dress in a manner that makes the staff member feel uncomfortable. Even in venues that offer adult entertainment or sexualised performance, no staff member should be expected to put up with unwanted sexual advances or harassment from patrons or other members of staff.
- Staff should monitor patrons they believe may be the target of, or vulnerable to an instance of sexual harassment or assault, and actively monitor or check their well-being.
- Patrons who are intoxicated, or are disorientated, are under the influence of drugs or other substances or appear to be being targeted require an immediate response from staff.
- Sexual harassment and sexual assault are often supported or promoted by the broader culture of a venue. Venues may contribute towards the prevention of these behaviours by:
- Promoting gender balance of staff, security, performers etc.;
- Being inclusive of gender and sexual diversity; and
- Promoting a venue culture that is safe and respectful.
All staff should be required to:
- Understand and adhere to the venue’s policies for identifying and responding to instances of sexual harassment and assault at all times;
- Take all reasonable steps to identify and respond appropriately to any instance of sexual harassment and assault experienced by or reported to them, or that they become aware of;
- Support other members of staff who need assistance in responding to an incident;
- Support other staff members who experience sexual harassment or assault;
- Recognise, and be respectful of the fact that not all persons who have experienced sexual harassment or assault will wish to be
- considered or referred to as a “victim”, but that this does not diminish the seriousness of an incident;
- Engage security and police where required;
- Ensure all details of an instance are recorded in the venue’s incident log;
- Ensure staff involved in identifying or responding to an incident feel supported; and
- Ensure police are engaged for all serious incidents.
If an incident is reported to a staff member, or they become aware of an incident or believe there is a likelihood of an incident occurring, all necessary steps must be taken to eject the perpetrator (and if necessary, their friends) from the venue. Wherever possible, the perpetrator’s identity must be sought and recorded in the incident log. Staff have a responsibility to respond to all incidents.
Any response to an instance of sexual harassment and assault that displays any of the following behaviours is unacceptable.
- Not responding immediately;
- Being dismissive or downplaying the seriousness of an incident;
- Blaming the victim for what has happened, or justifying the perpetrator’s behaviour;
- Ejecting the victim from the venue;
- Refusing to eject the perpetrator from the venue;
- Doubting or disbelieving a victim or witness;
- Not engaging security and police upon the victims request (or automatically in the case of a serious incident); and
- Not recording details of the incident, or destroying records or video/audio footage of an incident.
Training and communication
- All staff should be trained in how to identify and respond appropriately to incidents of sexual harassment or assault.
- All staff should be familiar with, and have ready access to the venue’s policy on identifying and responding to incidents of sexual harassment and assault, as well as the venue’s code of conduct and other relevant policies.
- Staff should be made aware that they will not be disadvantaged for reporting or responding to an instance of sexual harassment or assault within the venue.
- It is important to communicate to patrons that they can approach staff if they are being harassed, that they will be believed, and that appropriate action will be taken.
Good Night Out
Good Night Out is a campaign led by Hollaback! in the UK. The Good Night Out campaign provides training to venue staff on responding to sexual harassment in venues. www.goodnightoutcampaign.org
Sexual Assualt Referral Centre
SARC provide counselling, information and support for persons who have experienced sexual harassment or assault, and work with government agencies to try to prevent sexual harassment/assault. In both Darwin and Alice Springs, SARC provides 24 hour medical, legal and counselling assistance for individuals who have recently been subject to sexual assault.
- Darwin: (08) 8922 6472
- Katherine: (08) 8973 8524
- Tennant Creek: (08) 8962 4361
- Alice Springs: (08) 8955 4500 8am until 4.21pm Monday - Friday or 0401 114 191 after hours.
National sexual assault and family domestic violence hotline. 1800 737 732
NT Anti-Discrimination Commission
The NT Anti-Discrimination Commission provide resources to staff, employers and the public regarding discrimination and promotes equal opportunities for all Territorians. Their staff are available to provide assistance with any queries related to discrimination via the following free call line: 1800 813 846
For more information visit their website https://adc.nt.gov.au/