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Workplace Sexual Harassment Is Rife — And We Want To Help End It

At least half of all women in Australia have experienced sexual harassment, abuse or violence. That’s 1 in 2 that has been sexually harassed, 1 in 3 that has been physically abused and 1 in 5 that has been sexually abused. Let that sink in. With #FiredUp, Refinery29 Australia makes an ongoing commitment to spotlighting this serious and pervasive issue with the goal of dismantling gendered violence in Australia.
A year and a half ago, Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins released a seminal report called Respect@Work, outlining the pervasive nature of sexual harassment in Australian workplaces. The 930-page document described the prevalence and impact of the issue, and pointed out that Australia lags behind other countries in its response to preventing and responding to sexual harassment. Unfortunately, however, little concrete action has followed the publication of the report. 
Is your blood boiling yet?
Sexual harassment at work is disturbingly common. The most recent survey from the Australian Human Rights Commission (2018) revealed that almost two in five women in Australia (39%) had experienced sexual harassment at work in the past five years. It also highlighted that young people (those between the ages of 18 and 29), people with a disability, LGBTQI and Aboriginal people were far more likely to have experienced workplace sexual harassment. 

It's not because it doesn't happen, it's because one, women don't know that they're allowed to speak up. Two, they don't know who to reach out to.

Staying true to our mission to represent issues that impact women and underrepresented people, Refinery29 Australia has launched Fired Up — an initiative to bring attention to this widespread issue. With this launch, we're making a commitment to spotlighting workplace sexual harassment, as well as the social and political issues that underpin them.
Brought to life with survivor interviews, resource guides, expert opinion pieces and coverage of related news and events, we want to create a space where women and gender-diverse people can become informed and share their stories. We're also making an effort to elevate the voices and experiences of First Nations, CALD women, gender-diverse people and people with a disability.

She warned me that if I complained about his behaviour, because he's in a very, very, very high place, that if I spoke up, it would probably be the downfall of my career before it had even started.

Unfortunately, the percentage of people formally reporting incidences of sexual harassment was extremely low, with only 17% of victims making a report or complaint. At least 40% of sexual harassment cases were witnessed by at least one other person, but distressingly, in the vast majority of cases (69%) the witness did not take any action to intervene. 

I assume that's a massive reason why Brittany Higgins took a very long time to speak up about it because of the retribution that she was going to face, because of gaslighting or victim blaming. And that is a societal issue, not just a workplace issue. 

Two out of five women getting sexually harassed in the workplace is too many. By committing to an always-on spotlight on this issue through awareness and action — starting with this petition to support some of our most vulnerable women — we pledge to help dismantle workplace sexual harassment in Australia.  
But we can't do this alone. Let's make reporting less taboo. Let's speak up when we see something. Let's support organisations that help. Let's believe survivors, and share their stories.
The flame has been lit and it's time to get Fired Up as we ignite a long-overdue reckoning. 
The Northern Territory Working Women’s Centre — a community-based non-profit organisation that supports women through gender discrimination, sexual harassment and assault in the workplace — is at risk of closure. Sign the petition to demand federal funding — it only takes 2 minutes! To read more about Refinery29 Australia’s long-term initiative to dismantle sexual harassment in the workplace, visit the #FiredUp hub.

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