The under-reporting of sexual harassment in Australian workplaces

are organisational processes falling short?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Sexual harassment is persistent, prevalent and under-reported in Australian workplaces despite its legal regulation over many decades. The most recent survey data in Australia indicate that the majority of individuals who are subject to sexual harassment at work do not make a formal report or lodge a complaint. The opportunity for voice that organisational processes provide to those who experience sexual harassment at work is a particular focus, given the under-reporting problem. The paper also considers the impact of organisational processes on those who observe the inappropriate behaviour and/or the organisational response. Ultimately, this paper argues that organisations should reduce their reliance on individual complaints by expanding the pathways by which concerns can be raised or observed behaviours addressed that offer alternative voice mechanisms, with an emphasis on problem-solving and early intervention where this is appropriate. The paper also considers different communications strategies, such as approaches to training, the sharing of information about workplace incidents, and leadership on the issue within organisations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)531-547
Number of pages17
JournalLegal Studies
Issue number4
Early online date18 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • workplace sexual harassment
  • complaints
  • organisational processes

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