Attorneys-general meet to take action on new legislation
A meeting of attorneys-general has resulted in all states and territories agreeing to take action regarding the recommendations of the Respect@Work report.
The meeting was led by Australian Attorney-General, Michaelia Cash, and brought together attorneys-general from all states and territories.
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Together, the representatives progressed a number of key reforms focused on issues – including coercive control and criminal justice response to sexual assault – in the Respect@Work report, a national inquiry by the Australian Human Rights Commission into sexual harassment in workplaces.
This follows an announcement from Prime Minister Scott Morrison earlier this year, who said all 55 recommendations from the Respect@Work report would be either agreed wholly, in part or in principle as part of the federal government’s attempt to prevent any further sexual harassment in Australian workplaces.
“Sexual harassment is unacceptable,” he said in a statement at the time.
“It’s not only immoral and despicable, and even criminal, but particularly in the context of the Respect@Work report, it denies Australians – and especially women – not just their personal security but their economic security by not being safe in the workplace.”
Ms Cash said the meeting advanced proposals critical to keeping women safe.
“We know we must do more to tackle violence against women and children,” she said.
“That is why I called this extraordinary meeting to progress the work on strengthening our justice system to help victims of sexual assault, sexual harassment and coercive control.”
The attorneys-general agreed to work together to implement recommendations of the Respect@Work report that require action from the Commonwealth government as well as state and territory governments.
The meeting also resulted in the representatives agreeing to co-design national principles to help develop a common understanding of coercive control and criminalisation, as well the establishment of a working group to protect victims of sexual harassment who are witnesses in court. The attorneys-general also agreed to meet again on a number of recommendations before the end of the year.
“This is a matter of national importance and it needs a national response,” Ms Cash said.
“I would like to thank jurisdictions for their participation and the work that the states and territories are doing to ensure these critical issues are addressed.”