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UPCOMING EVENT: Feminist action session – discussion on combatting sexual harassment at work

Come along to our Feminist Action Session to help the Working Women’s Centre develop practical tools that can be used in workplaces.  

1 in 3 Australians have experienced sexual harassment at work, yet only 18% of victims report their experience (according to the Respect@Work Report 2020).  

The Working Women’s Centre SA has recently completed research that found that workplace posters are effective and engaging tools to highlight inappropriate behaviour and connect victims with support avenues. In the upcoming Feminist Action session, we will discuss ways in which we can combat sexual harassment in our workplaces and communities and support victims of sexual harassment. We’ll also share ideas for a meaningful poster for South Australian workplaces.  

In this session you will have the opportunity to share your ideas and discuss the topic with like-minded individuals. 

  • Bring a laptop or phone if handy, and a willingness to contribute ideas and listen to others.
  • Complimentary hot food and drinks will be provided.
  • The venue is wheelchair accessible. The nearest disability access bathrooms are at the Adelaide Train Station.

CONTENT NOTE: This event will involve a discussion of workplace sexual violence.

WHEN

29 Jul 2021
5.30-7.00pm

EVENT TYPE

Workshop

WHERE

The Working Women’s Centre SA, Level 1 Station Arcade, 52 Hindley Street

ACCESSIBILITY

Wheelchair Accessibility

REGISTER HERE

We acknowledge that this event is on Kaurna land and we pay our respect to the traditional custodians of the land, past and present . Sovereignty was never ceded.

UPCOMING EVENT: Safe and Compliant Workplaces: education and advice clinic

The Working Women’s Centre in collaboration with Fair Go SA, will co-host an educational workshop on worker’s rights and the Fair Work Act.

This will be followed by a confidential (one to one) advice clinic for any workers who need free industrial advice about work.

Our workshop will cover topics including:

  • Workplace bullying
  • Discrimination
  • Sham contracting
  • Unfair Dismissal
  • Parental Leave
  • Workplace sexual harassment
  • Responding to domestic violence at work
  • Labour Exploitation

At the Confidential Industrial Advice Clinic you can:

  • Speak to an Industrial Officer who has a background in Employment law & qualifications in law
  • Ask questions
  • Get information and personalised advice about your workplace issues.
  • Book a further free appointment with the Working Women’s Centre Industrial Officers for a follow-up & further assistance.

WHEN:

23 Jul 2021
2pm – 5pm

 

EVENT TYPE

Workshop

 

WHERE

69 Grote Street, Adelaide SA

 

translation avaible register for this event via we chat

If you cannot register for this event via the We Chat QR code, please email to register: reception@wwc.org.au

Accessibility: Please note that this venue is not wheelchair accessible, there are volunteers who can assist with accessing the venue if required, but only upon request.

We acknowledge that this event is on Kaurna land and we pay our respect to the traditional custodians of the land, past and present. Sovereignty was never ceded.

Safe and Compliant Workplaces: education and advice clinic

The Working Women’s Centre in collaboration with Fair Go SA, will co-host an educational workshop on worker’s rights and the Fair Work Act.

This will be followed by a confidential (one to one) advice clinic for any workers who need free industrial advice about work.

Our workshop will cover topics including:

  • Workplace bullying
  • Discrimination
  • Sham contracting
  • Unfair Dismissal
  • Parental Leave
  • Workplace sexual harassment
  • Responding to domestic violence at work
  • Labour Exploitation

At the Confidential Industrial Advice Clinic you can:

  • Speak to an Industrial Officer who has a background in Employment law & qualifications in law
  • Ask questions
  • Get information and personalised advice about your workplace issues.
  • Book a further free appointment with the Working Women’s Centre Industrial Officers for a follow-up & further assistance.

translation avaible register for this event via we chat

If you cannot register for this event via the We Chat QR code, please email to register: reception@wwc.org.au

Accessibility: Please note that this venue is not wheelchair accessible, there are volunteers who can assist with accessing the venue if required, but only upon request.

We acknowledge that this event is on Kaurna land and we pay our respect to the traditional custodians of the land, past and present. Sovereignty was never ceded.

Feminist action session – discussion on combatting sexual harassment at work

About this event

Note: this event will be held online due to COVID-19 risks and restrictions.

Come along to our Feminist Action Session to help the Working Women’s Centre develop practical tools that can be used in workplaces.  

1 in 3 Australians have experienced sexual harassment at work, yet only 18% of victims report their experience (according to the Respect@Work Report 2020).  

The Working Women’s Centre SA has recently completed research that found that workplace posters are effective and engaging tools to highlight inappropriate behaviour and connect victims with support avenues. In the upcoming Feminist Action session, we will discuss ways in which we can combat sexual harassment in our workplaces and communities and support victims of sexual harassment. We’ll also share ideas for a meaningful poster for South Australian workplaces.  

In this session you will have the opportunity to share your ideas and discuss the topic with like-minded individuals. 

CONTENT NOTE: This event will involve a discussion of workplace sexual violence.

We acknowledge that this event is on Kaurna land and we pay our respect to the traditional custodians of the land, past and present . Sovereignty was never ceded.

Young workers and sexual harassment – what are my rights?

Young female workers under 30 years old are particularly at risk of sexual harassment in the workplace. It can be tricky to know how to handle an uncomfortable situation, especially if it’s your first job or if you are new in the workplace. Here are some facts about your rights, and some common scenarios to help you to know what to do.

Sexual harassment – what is it?

Sexual harassment is conduct of a sexual nature that makes you feel offended, humiliated or intimidated, that a reasonable person would anticipate would make you feel that way.

Sexual harassment includes conduct like:

  • An unwelcome sexual request or advance (ie hitting on you)
  • Staring or leering
  • Jokes or comments that are suggestive or sexual
  • Sexually explicit photos or pictures
  • Texts, messages, or emails of a sexual nature
  • Personal questions about your body, private life or sex life
  • Unwelcome touching, such as purposely brushing up against you
  • Sexually explicit physical contact
  • Insulting or teasing you about something sex-related

Your workplace should protect you from sexual harassment at work. This includes from co-workers, customers or clients. When starting a job, you should ask your employer about their workplace harassment policies. If you foresee any risks, for example, you are worried about being rostered on alone in a shop, discuss with your employer what can be done to ensure your safety at all times.

If you tell your employer that you have been sexually harassed, or they should have known that it was happening, they must stop the harassment and prevent it happening again. They are also vicariously responsible for the conduct of their staff (that is, legally responsible for their behaviour) unless they show that they have taken reasonable precautions to prevent sexual harassment and to properly deal with any complaints.

If you complain about sexual harassment, and then you have your shifts cut, or you are demoted or fired, you should call us for advice. You have a right to safe workplace and if you suffer a loss for making a complaint about that right, you could make a General Protections claim in the Fair Work Commission. Note that if you are fired, there are only 21 days from the end of your employment to make this claim.

You can also make a complaint to the Equal Opportunity Commission and Australian Human Rights Commission about the sexual harassment. There time limits of 12 months and 6 months respectively for these claims.

If you have been sexually harassed at work, firstly make sure you are safe and have support, and call us or your Union for legal advice about your individual situation.

Here are some common situations. Have a read and think about what you would do in these situations.

 

Olivia’s boss Mark creeps her out. He owns the small law firm at which she works as a paralegal. Olivia often has to work closely with Mark and others in the team. He is known to be a “joker” so often his behaviour is laughed off by Olivia’s co-workers. He often makes inappropriate comments about her appearance, like calling her “sexy legs” when she wears a new dress. He asks about her boyfriends and jokes about her dating history. On several occasions Mark has come up behind her and rubbed her shoulders, saying she looks stressed and should lighten up.

Olivia is sick of it and often feels too anxious to go to work. She doesn’t know who to complain to since Mark is her boss.

Even if a workplace has a culture of jokes and pranks, Mark’s jokes and comments are sexual harassment. Unwelcome touching, such as a shoulder rub, is also sexual harassment.

If Olivia feels too anxious or unwell to attend work, she should seek help from her doctor and with her doctor’s support, consider a worker’s compensation claim. 

Olivia could see if any of her co-workers feel the same way about Mark’s behaviour and complain as a team. Olivia could arrange a meeting with Mark about his behaviour, with a support person, or could write an email to him outlining her concerns. If the workplace has a policy on workplace harassment, she should refer to it. Olivia has the right to a workplace free of sexual harassment and her concerns should be taken seriously. Once the workplace is notified of her complaint, they should take steps to prevent it happening again, even if the boss is the culprit.

Olivia could also lodge a claim in the Equal Opportunity Commission or the Australian Human Rights Commission about the sexual harassment.

If you are in a similar situation, call us or your Union for advice.

 

Anika works in a front desk role at a wholesaler. One particular customer makes Anika feel extremely uncomfortable. He loiters around the front desk longer than he needs to, leans too close to her, and makes suggestive comments. He calls her “gorgeous” and always compliments her. Once, he came into the warehouse near closing time and waited outside for her in the carpark, as she left work for the day. He told her he couldn’t stop thinking about her and wanted to take her out for a drink.

The customer is extremely important to the business and Anika’s boss has previously told her to be nice to him. What should Anika do?

It is not okay that Anika feels unsafe at work. She has the right to a safe workplace. Anika should report the customer’s behaviour to her boss. If her boss knows about the harassment, he must act to stop it and prevent it from happening again. It doesn’t matter if the customer is a regular, a big spender or a friend of the boss.

Anika should put her complaint to her boss in writing, and keep a diary of when the customer harasses her. If at any time, Anika feels physically unsafe, she should seek immediate help. If Anika’s boss fails to do anything to stop the harassment, she could also lodge a complaint in the Equal Opportunity Commission or the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Trina works in the kitchen of a fast food restaurant. It is extremely busy and the team has to work closely together to get orders ready. One Saturday night, it was flat out and Trina was bending over to get more takeaway containers out of the cupboard. Her co-worker was rushing an order through to the drive through window and said “Oi, get your arse out the way!” and slapped her bum in a joking manner as he went by.

Trina felt embarrassed and shocked but laughed it off. She has always had a good relationship with this co-worker and doesn’t want to get him in trouble. It has only happened once, and she isn’t sure if she should say something to her manager or not.

Even though this was a one-off event, it is still harassment. If Trina feels comfortable to do so, she could approach her co-worker and tell him that his behaviour made her feel uncomfortable.

If Trina doesn’t want to speak to her co-worker personally, she could approach her manager or HR department to report the behaviour.

If Trina chooses not to do anything at this stage, she should make a note of the time and date of the harassment and keep a diary if anything further happens, in case she wishes to take action in the future.

 

Paige works as a waiter in a function centre. She went out on a few dates with her co-worker, Tom, but it didn’t work out. They agreed to be friends, but Tom keeps acting inappropriately towards Paige. He brushes up against her when they are both working in the bar, and jokes about her wanting to have sex with him. Once, he tried to kiss her when they were alone in the storeroom. Paige has told him to stop but Tom doesn’t listen.

Even if you have had a previous relationship with someone at work, you do not have to put up with sexual harassment from that person. You may decide to try to speak to the person harassing you and explain that it is not appropriate in the workplace. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, or if they won’t stop, you should report the harassment to your boss. Your boss should take your complaint seriously and take steps to prevent it from happening again.

Paige could make a complaint to the Equal Opportunity Commission or the Australian Human Rights Commission about the harassment. If her boss cuts her shifts instead of addressing Tom’s behaviour, she could make a General Protections claim in the Fair Work Commission.

 

If you have been sexually harassed at work, firstly make sure you are safe and have support, and call us or your Union for legal advice about your situation.

 

How can the Working Women’s Centre Help?

We can:

  • Provide advice and information about sexual harassment
  • Inform you of the complaint procedure
  • Help you make a complaint
  • Advocate on your behalf up to and including conciliation

 

Where else can I go for help?

Other organisations that may be able to help include your union, the Australian Human Rights Commission and the Equal Opportunity Commission. 

If you are not already a member of a union, ring SA Unions on (08) 8279 2222 to find out which union to join.

Australian Human Rights Commission: Phone:  1300 369 711 Web: www.humanrights.gov.au

Equal Opportunity Commission: Phone: (08) 8207 1977 Web: www.eoc.sa.gov.au 

 

Making a Sexual Harassment complaint is a serious matter.

 

Other service providers

  • Yarrow Place 
    Yarrow Place
    Rape and Sexual Assault Service is a service for anyone who has been sexually assaulted.
    Services include:
    24 Hour Crisis Response Service for recent sexual assault—this includes support from a social worker, medical care by a doctor or nurse, and collection of forensic evidence for people who are considering legal action.
    — Professional counselling and advocacy for recent and past sexual assault clients as well as their support people.

    Phone: (08) 8226 8777 or (Toll free) 1800 817 421

 

  • Uniting SA Sexual Abuse & Sexual Assault Counselling for young people
    You can access this service if you are between the ages of 12 and 25, and homeless or at risk of homelessness.

    Phone: (08) 8202 5060

  • 1800RESPECT1800RESPECT is a national 24 hour online and telephone service offering counselling and support to anyone experiencing domestic and family violence and/or sexual assault and their family and friends.Freecall 1800 737 732 (24 hours)


If your life or someone else’s life is in immediate danger, phone 000 (triple zero).

Centres for working women at risk

This story is about our fight to save the Working Women’s Centres in the NT and Queensland. It was published by The Saturday Paper on 22 May 2021. 

Find the full story here. 

Despite this month’s federal budget pledging $3.2 billion to women, a critical front-line service has lost much of its funding and will likely close before the end of the year.

 

MEDIA STATEMENT: Working Women’s Centres train political parties in prevention of sexual harassment

Working Women’s Centre’s provide prevention of sexual harassment workplace training to federal and state political parties. 

We are pleased to announce major political parties have engaged the Working Women’s Centres to assist with workplace training. Since February, multiple political offices have contacted us to book our training ‘Preventing and Responding to Sexual Harassment’ and ‘When violence comes to work.’ This parties include:

    • The federal Australian Labor Party
    • SA Labor
    • SA Greens

We are pleased that political parties are taking proactive steps to prevent sexual assault in their offices by booking our training programs.

We will be working with Federal Labor and SA Labor over the next 6 months to roll out training for MPs, staff and volunteers.

 

Over May, the Working Women’s Centers educators travelled to Canberra to train all Federal Labor Chief of Staffs in the prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace. We are in the process of rolling out training for federal Labor offices across the country.

The Working Women’s Centre’s will also provide prevention of sexual harassment training to the Prime Minister and Cabinet department in the coming month. We have a long training relationship with the PMC team.

In South Australia, the SA Labor party passed a motion that commits to ensuring all South Australian Labor Members of Parliament, their staff, elected party officials, office bearers, campaign coordinators and campaign managers will undertake mandatory unconscious Bias training, Preventing and Addressing Sexual Harassment training and Bullying training within the next six months.

Further Senator Wong’s office has booked the suite of Working Women’s training program to be conducted in early July 2021.

We urge all states and territory governments and political parties to do the same. Leadership comes from the top.

 

Training programs 

We encourage all political parties’ and employers to contact the Working Women’s Centres to discuss our training programs. In February 2021, after the allegations of sexual violence and harassment in Parliament House and political parties, we wrote to all political parties, their leaders in every state and territory to encourage them to take the crucial step of engaging workplace training.  A previous media release about our correspondence with political parties can be found: here: https://wwcsa.org.au/call-for-all-political-parties-to-undertake-training-on-workplace-sexual-harassment/

 

Quotes attributable to Abbey Kendall, Director of the South Australian Working Women’s Centre.

 

Workplace training is crucial to eliminating violence against women in the workplace and the community. The training must be evidence based, trauma informed and mandatory. We wrote to every political party in the country asking them to lead in this area and we are really pleased that our training programs have been taken up.

 

Working Women’s Centre Training Officer Cassandra Deon-Wierda says

Workplace training and education programs are a vital tool to improving organisational and team culture. Through action based and cooperative learning staff can become empowered and confident in their skills, knowledge, and communication with one another. As we start to gain a better understanding of the intersection of unconscious bias and serious issues within the work environment, the need for employers to maintain an inclusive environment committed to equity and respect are essential.

 

 

Despite our crucial work, Working Women’s Centre’s in NT and QLD are in a funding crisis. We are asking the federal government to save the NT and QLD WWC and establish Working Women’s Centre’s in every state and territory in line with recommendation 49 of the Respect@Work Report. Media releases about this fight can be found here: https://wwcsa.org.au/media/media-releases/

Unless the Federal Government steps and provides ongoing and sustainable funding to the NT and QLD Working Women’s Centre, they will not be able to provide this crucial training.

In the Northern Territory –the NT Working Women’s Centre continues to receive requests for workplace training in a broad range of areas including sexual harassment, domestic and family violence and bullying. ‘All Work Aware training has a violence prevention focus. It is intended to provide safer workplaces by assisting employers/employees understand the issues and how to better respond and support workers on the ground. It is about changing the culture and making workplaces fair and safe for all, proofing your organisations against avoidable risks.’ To date, we have delivered training to a number of Government departments, not for profits and small businesses. It would be helpful if Working Women’s Centres training was available more broadly to workplaces, that we could be funded to roll this out to workplaces across Australia and not just to those who can afford it.

 

Media Contacts:

 

WWC SA Director – Abbey Kendall –  08 8410 6499 – reception@wwc.org.au

 

WWC NT Director – Nicki Petrou

 

WWC QLD Director – Fiona Hunt

 

MEDIA RELEASE: Call for coalition government to immediately save the Northern Territory and Queensland Working Women’s Centres  Media Statement 

The Working Women’s Centres call on the Federal Government to immediately take action and fund the Northern Territory and Queensland Working Women’s Centres.

 

The funding and establishment of Working Women’s Centres in every Australian state and territory is essential to addressing workplace sexual harassment, and forms a key part of the Respect@Work report, appearing at recommendation 49.

 

The recommendation is that ‘Australian governments provide increased and recurrent funding to working women’s centres, to provide information, advice and assistance to vulnerable workers who experience sexual harassment, taking into account particular needs of workers facing intersectional discrimination.’

 

The Federal Government has agreed to this recommendation in the Roadmap for Respect. However, the government has failed to provide certainty as to its funding commitment or timeframes around these discussions.

 

We cannot wait. The Northern Territory and Queensland WWCs have 10 weeks to find funding or face the prospect of closing.  This will be devastating to working women in QLD and the NT and it will fly in the face of the federal governments promises to address gendered violence in the workplace.

 

The Government must act now and immediately fund the NT and QLD services. Our clients, communities and working women are depending on us. Working Women are depending on the government to save their services, who work and understand the local environment and the challenges in which they live and work.

 

Funding Working Women’s Centres is an easy, immediate and tangible solution for the prevention of sexual violence. This is the first test for the new Attorney General and the federal government since their response to the Report’s 55 recommendations.

 

Experts and leaders in gender equity regularly talk about the Working Women’s Centre holistic model as world leading. WWCs form the backbone of the fight to eliminate gendered violence in our workplaces and the community.

 

Director of the QLD Working Women’s Centre Fiona Hunt says: “All women deserve safe workplaces and someone to champion them when they are treated unfairly. WWC QLD works with the most vulnerable women in QLD to keep them employed, to get what they are entitled and to walk away fairly if needed.”

 

Director, of the NT WWC Nicki Petrou says: “In a climate when women’s safety at work has again hit the headlines, when the Federal Government has committed to building women’s workforce participation, economic security and making women’s homes and  workplaces safe, funding specialist women’s services such as the Working Women’s Centres who are here now continuing to do the work, in supporting women with workplace issues and throughout COVID is especially critical. This also makes good sense.”

Director of the SA WWC Abbey Kendall says: “The South Australian WWC is a great example of what a secure and funded and working women’s center can do for workplaces, vulnerable people and working women. We make a big impact in South Australia but we need a national approach to this issue. We need an alliance of well funded Working Women’s Centres in every state and territory and the first step to achieving that is to save the NT and QLD centres”. 

Media contacts: 

WWC NT Director – Nicki Petrou,

WWC QLD Director – Fiona Hunt

WWC SA Director  – Abbey Kendall

 

Background on WWC  

The Working Women’s Centres are not-for-profit organisations which providefree advice, representation and support to vulnerable, workers about their rights at work. Additionally, the WWC’s advocate for systemic change to improve women’s workplace conditions and safety, and offer a range of free and fee for service training for workers and employers about workplace rights. This includes bullying, sexual harassment, and appropriately responding to disclosures of domestic violence.

There are currently 3 WWCs across the country (SA, NT and QLD). The only WWC with secure funding is WWC SA with the QLD service now a program of the Basic Rights Centre following non continuation of its funding 4 years earlier.

The Working Women’s Centre is made up of three arms:

Industrial/Legal support – we provide advice and representation to vulnerable workers who contact the Centre with work issues through 1:1 clinic appointments

Advocacy – we conduct advocacy to resolve systemic issues that affect women and other vulnerable workers, such as sexual harassment and precarious work

Education – we provide fee-for-service and free training for workers and employers about workplace rights. This includes bullying, sexual harassment, and appropriately responding to disclosures of domestic violence.

Core practices of the WWC  

The Working Women’s Centre model is unique due to the combination of a number of core practices.

  • Our advocacy and training work is informed by the issues experienced by our clients. We notice patterns in our industrial work and use our advocacy and education work to address these issues at a systemic level.
  • We apply a gender lens to our work and are specialists in gendered work issues. The Working Women’s Centre is seen as a safe space for women to gain support on issues such as sexual harassment and assault.
  • We support and empower women through our industrial work. We always provide them with the support to make the decisions that are right for them.
  • We are connected to grassroots movements. We work with communities who are experiencing issues such as wage theft and support them to push back against exploitation.

Photos of the Women’s March 4 Justice in Victoria Square

This article was published by Glam Adelaide 16 March 2021.

Read the full article and see the photo on Glam Adelaide’s Website

March participants congregated at midday in Victoria Square to hear speeches before heading down to North Terrace.

Speakers included human rights barrister Claire O’Connor, Director of the Working Women’s Centre SA Abbey Kendall, founder of SA Aboriginal Action Group Janette Milera, and Dr. Afsaneh Moradi.

Hosted by March 4 Justice, the event championed inclusion, and people of all genders were in attendance.

“The March is not just for women. It’s for everyone who wants an end to gendered violence – people from all backgrounds are welcome,” they say.

See photos from the rally here.

MEDIA RELEASE: Specialised services for women experiencing sexual harassment left with next to nothing in Budget

Working Women’s Centres – the first point of contact for women experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace – received just $200,000 in the Federal Budget.  

 

“We are experts in preventing and addressing workplace sexual harassment and violence through one-on-one support, training and advocacy. The NT and QLD Working Women’s Centres are experiencing a funding crisis, yet only $200,000 was delivered in the Federal Budget. This represents only interim funding. How long can we wait for funding certainty?” said Nicki Petrou, Director of the Working Women’s Centre NT.

 

“Despite our long and proud history of supporting women workers and advocating for fairer and safer workplaces, we continue to battle for funding to keep our doors open.

 

“This is a huge missed opportunity for the Prime Minister to show a commitment to tackling workplace sexual violence. There is a massive unmet need for our services. Funding Working Women’s Centres is an easy, immediate and tangible solution for the prevention of sexual violence and provision of direct specialist support to women across Australia.

 

“In 2016, the Queensland Working Women’s Centre was defunded by the federal government and in 2020 we lost funding for the NT Working Women’s Centre. This Government has not provided any funding certainty in the Budget. This is disappointing to working women across Australia who are in desperate need of support.

 

“The Working Women’s Centre model is world-leading. We are the backbone of the struggle against workplace sexual harassment and violence. The voices of working women have not been heard. Survivors all over the country are speaking out, yet the “women’s budget” doesn’t adequately support survivors of sexual violence in the workplace. Scott Morrison has failed working women.”

 

“A key recommendation of the Respect@Work report – Recommendation 49 – was to fund Working Women’s Centres in every Australian state and territory. This is because our world-leading model is proven. Working Women’s Centres allow women to access free information and advice from specialist services when they experience sexual harassment at work,” said Nikky Candy, Director of the Working Women’s Centre SA.

 

“When a woman experiences sexual harassment at work they face very complex, personal choices. Being armed with the facts about their options empowers them at a time when they are incredibly vulnerable. Women should not have to make a decision between their safety and economic livelihood. This funding decision will leave vulnerable women even more vulnerable.”

 

“The Prime Minister has failed the test when it comes to tackling sexual violence in the workplace, especially for women in the NT who face the prospect of being left without specialised support in a matter of months. Funding the NT and QLD centres would have cost approximately $1.4 million per year, but instead, the government has only provided $200,000 in the budget to be split across both Centres.

 

“This $200,000 is not enough to save the NT Working Women’s Centre, which faces the prospect of closure after 1 July 2021. Both the NT and QLD Working Women’s Centres will have to turn away women in need of support and representation.”

 

“We are a much needed safety net for all Australian women to be supported at work. The government agreed with Recommendation 49 in their Roadmap to Respect, but has not yet done what is required to save the Working Women’s Centres,” said Fiona Hunt, Director of the QLD Working Women’s Centre.

 

MEDIA CONTACTS:

WWC QLD Director – Fiona Hunt

WWC NT Director – Nicki Petrou

WWC SA Director – Nikki Candy

 

Notice of press conference

WEDNESDAY 12 MAY, 11:15AM

Senate Courtyard, Australian

 Parliament House

 

WHAT: Lawyers and advocates respond to defunding of Working Women’s Centres
WHEN: 11:15AM

Wednesday, 12 May 2021

WHO: Nicki Petrou, Working Women’s Centre NT Director

Fiona Hunt, Working Women’s Centre QLD Director

WHERE: Senate Courtyard

Australian Parliament House, Canberra

MEDIA

CONTACT:

Nicki Petrou, WWC QLD Director

Fiona Hunt,WWC NT Director

Nikki Candy, WWC SA Director

MEDIA RELEASE: Funding cut to Working Women’s Centres that Respect@Work Inquiry called to expand

Two out of five Australian women experienced sexual harassment at work in the past five years.  Despite this national crisis, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has refused to commit to funding the services that provide a first-point-of contact for women who are sexually harassed at work. 

“Working Women’s Centres provide free, expert and impartial information to women about their rights and options when they are sexually harassed at work. The Queensland Working Women’s Centre was defunded by the federal government in 2016 and NT Working Women’s Centre was defunded in 2020.” said Fiona Hunt, Director of the Queensland Working Women’s Centre. 

“The Respect@Work Inquiry specifically recommended that the Prime Minister do the opposite. It proposed we be funded to establish a Working Women’s Centre in every state and territory.

“We run on the smell of an oily rag, but the services we provide change women’s lives every day.  Many women don’t know where to turn when they experience sexual harassment at work.  They face difficult decisions and often face choosing between their safety and their livelihoods.  

“The model is proven. We provide free information to women and already there is a huge unmet need.  It’s absurd that we are now faced with closing the Northern Territory and Queensland Working Women’s Centres when the Respect@Work Report said we should operate in every state and territory.  

“It would cost approximately $20,000,000 to properly establish and fund Working Women’s Centres in every state and territory.  Given workplace sexual harassment costs the economy more than $2.6 billion per year, this is a drop in the ocean.

“We help women from all walks of life understand their rights and options. Our staff are experts in workplace law and trained in working with vulnerable clients.  We also offer workplace training on preventing sexual harassment, which changes workplace culture.  

“Recently, we have assisted a young woman who was working in a male dominated industry and was subject to unwanted sexual advances and touching during her probationary period. When she complained she was dismissed. We represented her to make a sexual harassment discrimination complaint, and she won substantial compensation. We receive hundreds of calls from women in similar situations who need our help,” said Fiona Hunt. 

Nicki Petrou, Director of the NT Working Women’s Centre said: “In a climate when women’s safety at work has again hit the headlines, when the Federal Government has committed to building women’s workforce participation, economic security and making women’s homes and  workplaces safe, funding specialist women’s services such as the Working Women’s Centres who are here now continuing to do the work, in supporting women with workplace issues and throughout COVID is especially critical. This also makes good sense, including economic sense when you look at the costs.” 

“Workplace sexual harassment occurs in every industry, at every level, across every profession, in every region of Australia and cultural group.  If Prime Minister Scott Morrison is genuine about acting to prevent sexual harassment he must immediately reverse the current funding situation for at risk Working Women’s Centres and invest seriously in women’s specialist services to appropriately respond to these issues.” said Nicki Petrou.

 

MEDIA CONTACTS: 

WWC NT Director – Nicki Petrou

WWC QLD Director – Fiona Hunt

WWC SA Acting Director – Nikki Candy

How to spot a Sham Contract in a Job Advertisement.

Please note that this is general information & may not be relevant to your particular matter. This toolkit should not be taken as legal advice.

When applying for a new job it is important to understand exactly what type of employment relationship you may be entering. There can be serious legal consequences if the employment relationship is incorrectly labelled. For example, some job advertisements might state the position available is for an independent contractor when the true nature of the position is really an employee. Independent contractors and employees have different obligations and rights in relation to the work they perform. It is important to know the difference between the two so you can ensure you are receiving all your legal entitlements and that you are complying with any legal obligations.

 

 

What’s the difference between an independent contractor and an employee?

There are a number of factors that assist in determining the difference between an employee and an independent contractor. In general:

Independent Contractors work for themselves and are their own boss. They set their own fee for the work that they perform and have control of when and how they work. They usually create and supply invoices to receive payment for their work based on the completion of a job. Independent contractors arrange and pay their own taxation and are required to have an Australian Business Number (ABN).

Employees work for someone else and are not running their own business. The employer controls how, where, and when the employee does their work. Employees are often paid by the hour and receive a wage or salary. Employees are not required to pay their own taxation and their employer will deduct taxation and pay it to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). Employees are entitled to certain types of leave (i.e. long service and parental leave) and superannuation.

 

Sometimes the true nature of the relationship will be obvious but sometimes a more fulsome analysis of all the circumstances of the working relationship is required.

It is important to note that no single indicator can determine if a person is a contractor or an employee. Each assessment is based on the individual circumstances of the work arrangement in place. Courts always look at the totality of the relationship between the parties when determining the status of a person’s working relationship.

What is sham contracting?

Sham contracting is where a person working as an employee is told they are an independent contractor when they are not. They may be treated like an independent contractor in some ways, for example they may be required to have an ABN, yet have no control over when and how they do their work or how much they get paid.

It is illegal for employers to misrepresent an employee as an independent contractor. Sham contracting is against the law and there are protections for workers who find themselves in sham arrangements.

For example, it is unlawful for an employer to:

  • claim an employee is an independent contractor;
  • say something false to convince an employee to become an independent contractor;
  • dismiss or threaten to dismiss an employee if they don’t become an independent contractor; or
  • dismiss an employee and hire them as an independent contractor to do the same work.

Sham contracting is sometimes done on purpose or an employer may have acted carelessly and not fully understood their obligations at law. Sham arrangements are sometimes set up by employers who are trying to avoid responsibility for paying legal entitlements due to employees such as annual leave or superannuation.

 

How can you spot a sham contract in a job advertisement?

Have a look at the advertisement for a job below. It is not uncommon to find advertisements for jobs online that have some of these features. The advertisement below is problematic because it has features of a sham contracting arrangement.
image is of a fake job ad, posted by a man in a suit named Mr Boss man, the ad says "Howdy! I am looking for a reliable person, with attention to detail. I need someone who is a quick learner and can follow instructions. You must have an ABN, a full driving license & your own car for transport. Opportunity to work 3-4 days or 7 days a week, doing around 5 -7 hours a day, early starts everyday. This position would suit someone with a background working as a: florist, cleaner, baker, hairdresser, pastry chef or website designer. "
  1. The requirement to “follow instructions” and start early points to an employment relationship. A true independent contractor running their own business would not be expected to follow instructions and should be able to negotiate when the work commences.
  2. The requirement to have an ABN does not necessarily point to an independent contractor. Some employers will say you need an ABN but all the other elements of employment are present
  3. The requirement to work a certain number of days per week and certain number of hours per day points towards an employment relationship. It demonstrates the worker does not have control over when the hours are worked.
  4. Stating that the position would suit someone with a background of “baker, florist, pastry chef etc” indicates the position does not require any particular expertise. This points towards an employment relationship because someone truly running their own business would likely specialise in a particular field.

 

It is unlawful for an employer to pretend that they are offering a person a job as an independent contractor when the position actually involves entering into an employment contract. Before accepting a position like this, you should ask more questions about the true nature of the position and get some advice.

 

Case Studies

Have a read through these case studies for further guidance on how to spot a sham contracting arrangement:

 

CASE STUDY 1:

Stevie was offered a job in a beauty salon as a Beauty Therapist. Stevie is qualified to provide a full range of beauty treatments. Stevie was told she needed an ABN and would need to arrange to pay her own tax. Stevie was told she would be paid $25 per hour and would be given four shifts per week. Her shift times were in line with the salon’s opening hours which were 9am to 5:30pm. She was given a uniform with the Beauty Salon’s logo which she was required to wear. Stevie was told to book and perform nail treatments only. The beauty salon owner told her she would need to bring in her own customers and generate patronage.

Employee or independent contractor?

Stevie is an employee. She has no control over where, when and how she worked. Even though she was told she needed an ABN and was required to pay her own tax, she was not running her own business and had no control over her work. Stevie may be entitled to a higher rate or pay and superannuation.

 

CASE STUDY 2:

Asma is an Electrician and performs work on a residential building site for a large building company called BuildPro. BuildPro engages Asma to wire the new house they have built. Asma gives Buildpro a quote for the job and says she will invoice BuildPro when the work is complete. BuildPro asks Asma to finish the job in three months. The job is too big for Asma to complete alone so she engages another worker to do the job with her. Asma has an ABN and has undertaken to work six days per week from 7am to 3pm to get the job finished.

Employee or independent contractor?

Asma is an independent contractor. She determined her fee for the work and invoiced BuildPro accordingly. Although BuildPro requested the work be done within three months, Asma was able to determine her hours of work and was able to employ someone else to delegate work to. Asma is running her own business and had control over many aspects of the job which all indicate she was an independent contractor.

Save the Northern Territory and Queensland Working Women’s Centres  

Media Statement

22 April 2021

 

The Working Women’s Centres call on the Federal Government to immediately take action and fund the Northern Territory and Queensland Working Women’s Centres.

The funding and establishment of Working Women’s Centres in every Australian state and territory is essential to addressing workplace sexual harassment, and forms a key part of the Respect@Work report, appearing at recommendation 49.

The recommendation is that ‘Australian governments provide increased and recurrent funding to working women’s centres, to provide information, advice and assistance to vulnerable workers who experience sexual harassment, taking into account particular needs of workers facing intersectional discrimination.’

The Federal Government has agreed to this recommendation in the Roadmap for Respect. However, the government has failed to provide certainty as to its funding commitment or timeframes around these discussions.

We cannot wait. The Northern Territory and Queensland WWCs have 10 weeks to find funding or face the prospect of closing.  This will be devastating to working women in QLD and the NT and it will fly in the face of the federal governments promises to address gendered violence in the workplace.

*

The Government must act now and immediately fund the NT and QLD services. Our clients, communities and working women are depending on us. Working Women are depending on the government to save their services, who work and understand the local environment and the challenges in which they live and work.

Funding Working Women’s Centres is an easy, immediate and tangible solution for the prevention of sexual violence. This is the first test for the new Attorney General and the federal government since their response to the Report’s 55 recommendations.

Experts and leaders in gender equity regularly talk about the Working Women’s Centre holistic model as world leading. WWCs form the backbone of the fight to eliminate gendered violence in our workplaces and the community.

*

Director of the QLD Working Women’s Centre Fiona Hunt says: “All women deserve safe workplaces and someone to champion them when they are treated unfairly. WWC QLD works with the most vulnerable women in QLD to keep them employed, to get what they are entitled and to walk away fairly if needed.”

Director, of the NT WWC Nicki Petrou says: “In a climate when women’s safety at work has again hit the headlines, when the Federal Government has committed to building women’s workforce participation, economic security and making women’s homes and  workplaces safe, funding specialist women’s services such as the Working Women’s Centres who are here now continuing to do the work, in supporting women with workplace issues and throughout COVID is especially critical. This also makes good sense.”

Director of the SA WWC Abbey Kendall says: “The South Australian WWC is a great example of what a secure and funded and working women’s centre can do for workplaces, vulnerable people and working women. We make a big impact in South Australia but we need a national approach to this issue. We need an alliance of well funded Working Women’s Centres in every state and territory and the first step to achieving that is to save the NT and QLD centres”. 

Media contacts: 

WWC NT Director – Nicki Petrou, – 08 8981 0655 -  nicki@ntwwc.com.au

WWC QLD Director - Fiona Hunt, 07 3847 5532 - fionah@brq.org.au

tor Abbey Kendall, 08 8410 6499, abbey@wwc.org.au

###

 

 

Background on WWC  

The Working Women’s Centres are not-for-profit organisations which providefree advice, representation and support to vulnerable, workers about their rights at work. Additionally, the WWC’s advocate for systemic change to improve women’s workplace conditions and safety, and offer a range of free and fee for service training for workers and employers about workplace rights. This includes bullying, sexual harassment, and appropriately responding to disclosures of domestic violence.

There are currently 3 WWCs across the country (SA, NT and QLD). The only WWC with secure funding is WWC SA with the QLD service now a program of the Basic Rights Centre following non continuation of its funding 4 years earlier.

The Working Women’s Centre is made up of three arms:

Industrial/Legal support – we provide advice and representation to vulnerable workers who contact the Centre with work issues through 1:1 clinic appointments

Advocacy – we conduct advocacy to resolve systemic issues that affect women and other vulnerable workers, such as sexual harassment and precarious work

Arts workers: know your rights at work!

Please note that this is general information & may not be relevant to your particular matter. This toolkit should not be taken as legal advice.

 

Who is an arts worker?

The term “arts workers” encompasses a hugely diverse range of workers. People working in the arts may be visual artists, they may work in the literary arts or the performing arts of dance, music, and theatre. There are even more types of workers when you consider all the roles supporting the arts including arts administration, production crews, ticket sellers, ushers, spruikers, and festival workers. The length of the list of arts workers is only confined to the limits of human creativity.

Working out your rights and entitlements in the arts can therefore be like finding your way in a labyrinth. Because of the diversity in the nature of work performed, there are many workplace laws that govern working in the arts.

Here are some questions and answers to common issues for arts workers.

 

 

Am I an employee?

Workers in the arts are commonly engaged as either employees or independent contractors. It is important to understand the nature of your engagement as a worker because there are different legal rights and obligations depending on the working relationship. For example, some workers are entitled to minimum rates of pay and leave, while others set their own pay and must organise their own leave arrangements.

 

 

How can you tell which is which?

Employees work in someone else’s business. The employer controls how, where and when they do their work, and pays them a wage or salary. Employees are entitled to superannuation and they have payroll tax deducted from their pay by their employer. Most employees are entitlement to minimum wages and conditions from an award.

Examples: Full-time arts administration worker, an usher at a theatre, casual sound engineer at a theatre company, or a food and beverage attendant in an outdoor bar at a festival or event.

Independent Contractors work for themselves and are their own boss. They are free to set their own fee for the work that they perform and have control of when and how they work. They should have an ABN, invoice for their work, and organise payment of their own taxation. They may invoice for completion of a job rather by the hour. There is no minimum rate an independent contractor can rely on, rather they set their rates according to the free-market.

Examples: a visual artist engaged to paint and complete two large murals, or a musician playing a three hour set at a particular event.

 

Sometimes the true nature of the relationship will be obvious but sometimes a more fulsome analysis of all the circumstances of the working relationship is required. There are a full range of factors to be considered in determining whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor.

Some employers treat their workers as independent contractors when they are really employees. For example, the employer might require the workers to have an ABN and invoice for their work, yet they are paid by the hour and directed to work certain days and times at the employer’s discretion.

It is unlawful for an employer to misrepresent employment as an independent contracting arrangement. This is known as sham contracting and it is against the law.

If a worker is in a sham contracting arrangement, they may be entitled to claim unpaid wages, superannuation and leave entitlements, and the employer may be required to pay a penalty for breaking the law.

If you think you are in a sham contract arrangement you should contact the WWC for advice.

 

Where do employees find their minimum entitlements?

Awards or modern awards are legal documents that outline employees’ minimum pay rates and conditions.

There are more than 120 awards that cover most people who work in Australia. Awards apply to employers and employees depending on the industry or occupation they work in and the type of work they perform.

Here are some of the Awards that might apply to workers in the arts and some examples of the types of work they cover:

Amusement, Events and Recreation Award 2020:
Animal attendant, Ride attendant, Tour guide, Customer Service Officer, Meet and Greet/Concierge, Photography Attendant, Host/Presenter, Admissions/Entrance attendant, Usher, Ticket seller, Security Officer, Receptionist, Programme seller, Cashier

Broadcasting, Recorded Entertainment and Cinemas Award 2020:
Television Broadcasting, Radio Broadcasting, Cinema and film production, screen actors, Musicians for film and TV, Motion Picture Production, dancer, mime artist or puppeteer

Graphic Arts, Printing and Publishing Award 2020:
Creation of designs, concepts or layouts used in the advertising, marketing of commodities or services, commercial and industrial art including illustrations, borders, retouching of photographs, photographic reproportioning and lettering by hand

Live Performance Award 2020:
Producing, staging, audio/visual, presenting, performing, administration, programming, workshops, set and prop manufacture, operatic, orchestral, dance, erotic, revue, comedy, or musical performances; includes sale, service or preparation of food or drink; and selling tickets

Textile, Clothing, Footwear and Associated Industries Award 2020:
Fashion and Textile design

 

Travelling Shows Award 2020:
Travelling shows including the operation by an itinerant employer of any stand, fixture or structure for the purpose of providing amusement, food and/or recreation, carnival, rodeo, community event or festival

For a full list of all the moderns award and to access your award you can visit: https://www.fairwork.gov.au/awards-and-agreements/awards/list-of-awards

If you need help working out which award applies to the work you perform call the WWC.

 

 

Do I get breaks? How long should my shift be? – Common conditions in Awards

For specific information about your rights and entitlements you should find out the modern award that covers your employment. However, there are some common conditions within the awards that might apply to your work in the arts:

Breaks: Most awards stipulate that workers get a break after five hours. Some awards provide for paid breaks and others provide that breaks are unpaid. Some awards also provide for rest breaks as well as meal breaks.

Casual loadings: Most awards will provide a loading of 25% for casual workers to compensate them for not receiving sick leave, annual leave or paid public holidays.

Penalty rates: Most awards provide penalty rates which provides a higher hourly rate of pay for working unsociable hours like public holidays, late nights or early mornings and weekends.

Minimum engagement: Minimum engagement periods require that the minimum shift length must be a certain number of hours. The minimum engagement period is usually between two and four hours.

Overtime: Many awards provide that you get paid extra after working a certain number of hours in a day i.e. more than 10 hours in one shift.

We re-iterate that the conditions outline above are general and if you would like advice on your award entitlements contact the WWC.

 

 

What can I do if I’m being underpaid?

Claim the money back! There is no lawful basis for an employer to pay you less than the minimum wage in your award or contract.

You can calculate what is owed and request they pay you the difference between what you were actually paid and what the minimum entitlement should have been.

You have up to six years to follow-up wages owed to you as a result of wage theft. You can make a claim to the South Australian Employment Tribunal.

Our Industrial Officers can give you advice about claiming wages if you think you may be owed wages from a current or previous job. We also have other fact-sheets that can assist with drafting a letter of demand to your employer.

 

Sexual harassment in the arts is NOT OK!

The #Metoo Movement was born out of the art world and we know sexual harassment is a problem across the industry. The Media Arts Entertainment Alliance, the union that covers many arts workers in Australia, conducted a survey of sexual harassment, criminal misconduct, and bullying in the Australian live performance industry. The results showed that 40% of the respondents had experienced sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment is any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature. If a reasonable person would anticipate that the behaviour might make you feel offended, humiliated, or intimidated, it may be sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment can include:

  • Sexually suggestive comments, insults, or “jokes” or imagery.
    • Requests for sex or to perform sexual acts.
    • Unwelcome touching or physical contact.
    • Intrusive questions or comments about your private life or appearance.
    • Inappropriate staring or leering.
    • Sexually explicit or harassing messages (including text or social media), phone calls, emails, or images.

Sexual harassment does not have to be ongoing and can be one, single incident.

Some instances of sexual harassment can also be criminal offences, including physical or sexual assault.

Employers should have a policy for how to deal with sexual harassment in the workplace. It may involve a complaints process and an outline of how a complaint with be dealt with. Some workplaces may not have a policy and making a complaint of sexual harassment can be difficult. For example, making an internal compliant of sexual harassment may not be helpful in a small business, where the perpetrator is also the boss or the responsible for resolving complaints.

The Equal Opportunity Commission and the Australian Human Rights Commission can hear complaints about sexual harassment and victims can make claims for compensation.

The WWC Industrial Officers can give advice you further about sexual harassment in the workplace.

 

Random Questions from arts workers

Here are some RAQs (i.e. randomly asked questions) that we have received from people working in the arts:

Is it ok to be paid in tickets to shows, drinks, food, discounts, or other perks?

No. Additional perks are great, but these must be in addition to your minimum wages.

Can I have several jobs at the same time?

It is possible to work for different employers at the same time. However, some employers do not allow it, especially if the second job is for a competitor. They may have a policy prohibiting it. If that’s the case you should ask for permission before applying for that second job.

Is it ok to drink alcohol or take drugs at work?

No. Drinking alcohol or taking drugs at work can be characterised as gross misconduct and could result in termination of your employment, even if your supervisor or other staff are doing it and there is a culture condoning it. It is also a work health safety issue.

 

Is there are union for workers in the arts?

YES! The Media, Entertainments and Art Alliance (‘MEAA’) is the union that covers many workers in the arts sector. MEAA is the union for actors, entertainers, journalists and many more workers in the arts industry.

MEAA provides members with information on their workplace rights and advocacy to defend, promote and advance members’ rights at work.

MEAA membership also includes discounts plus benefits like journey insurance as well as professional development opportunities.

You can learn more about MEAA or join online here:

https://www.meaa.org/

Contact the WWC for specific information and advice about your rights and entitlements at work.

 

Where can I get advice?

If you are a union member, call your union.

If you are not a union member, then please feel free to call the Working Women’s

Centre on: 08 8410 6499

or using our toll free number: 1800 652 697.

You can also submit an online enquiry on our website.

https://wwcsa.org.au/contact-us/

Please be aware that we may not be in a position to respond to your enquiry within 24 hour’s, but we will advise you of the waiting period when you first telephone or email us.

 

Listen to the recording of our panel event ‘Working in the Arts’ featuring arts workers based on Kaurna land.

Our Panelists:
⭐️Gemma Beale
⭐️Letisha Ackland
⭐️Emma Webb

You’ll also hear from an Industrial Officer from the Working Women’s Centre about how you can protect your workplace rights in the Arts.

 

Young Women and COVID19 Report Launch

About this event

Young women have been disproportionately impacted by the loss of work, isolation and stress caused by COVID-19 in South Australia. The Working Women’s Centre is proud to launch our report which looks at the gendered impacts of COVID-19. In this report we present an optimistic vision for how we can improve gender equality through the COVID-19 recovery.  

To make sure that the stories and recommendations in this report are heard by decision makers, we need your help. RSVP for the report launch to help us spread the word and find out how you can take action 

The report launch will be held at the Jade from 4-5pm on Thursday 29th of April. We will hear members of our Young Women’s Employment Council who will give a summary of the report and talk about action that can be taken to improve economic equality for young women.  

Due to capacity limits, RSVPs are essential. 

This report is part of a Working Women’s Centre youth project that is funded by the Government of South Australia – Department for Human Services. 

 

We acknowledge that this event is on Kaurna land and we pay our respect to the traditional custodians of the land, past and present . Sovereignty was never ceded.

Young women and COVID19 report launch

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