WA enacts new program to address sexual harassment in mining

Friday, 14 January, 2022

WA enacts new program to address sexual harassment in mining

Western Australia has established a new program to address the issue of workplace sexual harassment and assault in the mining industry. The Mental Awareness, Respect and Safety (MARS) program will be funded with an initial $1.9 million, and will boost responses to mental health, drug and alcohol use and other health and safety issues in the mining industry. The initiative will also enhance the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety’s (DMIRS) enforcement model and processes for responding to incidents of sexual harassment and assaults.

DMIRS is working with companies that have revealed the non-disclosure of events in the current parliamentary inquiry to determine whether or not they should be prosecuted. DMIRS will manage the MARS program, along with the Mental Health Commission, the Equal Opportunity Commission and the Women’s Interests Minister.

The first phase of the MARS Program will commence in 2022. The state government has also reiterated its commitment to ensuring safe workplaces for all WA employees, by implementing the 12 Respect@Work report recommendations that apply to the state government and developing a whole-of-government Sexual Violence Prevention Strategy.

Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston said the funding will support the first phase of the MARS program to address serious mental health, workplace culture and mine safety issues. “The safety and health of workers is a high priority for the McGowan government. Every worker should be able to go to work without fear of physical or psychological harm,” Minister Johnston said.

Women’s Interests Minister Simone McGurk said the state government is acting to ensure workers — especially those working on mine sites — are safe and protected at work. “As the Minister for Women’s Interests, I’m very aware that women face an unacceptable and disproportionate risk of sexual violence in their homes, workplaces and communities. The level of underreporting of sexual assault and harassment in the mining and resources sector is completely unacceptable,” Minister McGurk said.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/agnormark

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