Workplace sexual harassment: A national study to inform new prevention and early intervention strategies

Project lead: Dr Nicola Helps
Chief Investigator: Associate Professor Kate Fitz-Gibbon, Professor Steven Roberts, Dr Rebecca Stewart, Dr Anna Genat, Dr. Stef Vasil

Project overview

There is increasing recognition across Australia of the prevalence and impacts of workplace sexual harassment. Despite this recognition, responses remain inadequate. The Australian Human Rights Commission (2018, p.34) highlights that current approaches ‘have failed to prevent and reduce workplace sexual harassment’. Encouragingly, workplaces want guidance on how to best address this issue, providing an opportunity to apply the principles of primary prevention to support the eradication of sexual harassment in workplace settings. In this project we centre victim-survivor insights and lived experience expertise to better understand the perpetration of workplace sexual harassment and to inform strategies and responses that can be implemented by workplaces.

Recognising the critical gap in current knowledge, this project will survey 2000 Australians, including victim-survivors and bystanders, to complete a large-scale national study examining the prevention of, and early interventions for, workplace sexual harassment.

Project aims

This project has four key aims:

  1. To examine opportunities to better identify, prevent and respond to workplace sexual harassment across industry groups and priority populations,
  2. To create a robust evidence-base on victim-survivors’ views on opportunities for early intervention and improved responses to workplace sexual harassment,
  3. To examine the degree to which workplace culture presents as a barrier to early intervention and response, including the capacity of bystanders,
  4. To generate new insights and workplace focused recommendations to support improved policy and practice.

This project will generate the new knowledge needed to inform improved policy and practice responses to workplace sexual harassment across a range of public and private Australian businesses and industries.

Research design

Using a large-scale survey comprising both quantitative and qualitative components this project will enhance current understandings of workplace sexual harassment with a key focus on enhancing early intervention, prevention and response strategies.

Project findings will be relevant to all Australian state and territory jurisdictions.

Stakeholder Advisory Group

This project is supported by a Stakeholder Advisory Group, including relevant sector and policy representatives.

Advisory Group Members to be announced soon.

Funding acknowledgement

This project is part of the Safe and Equal @ Work program funded via the State Government’s Victorian Higher Education State Investment Fund (VHESIF).

For further details about this research please contact the project lead Dr Nicola Helps via email: