Tip of an iceberg or an anomaly? Resource sector admits sexual harassment problem, but not its scale


It was a little weird for the boss of CME WA to say that the chamber had set up a task force to put in place a new code of conduct for the industry to deal with sexual harassment without asking the department what was the magnitude of the problem.


“I’m not a scholar, I didn’t foresee how this problem would play out, you know 12 months ago I didn’t necessarily think it was the biggest problem at the mining sites,” he said. Mr Everingham said.

“But in the last 12 months, you know, I’ll admit it, I’ve learned a lot. And it is certainly widespread. I’m not going to say “oh, this is also prevalent in society” because it’s happening in our industry and we want to fix it, so we’re taking action to fix it. “

To Mr Everingham’s credit, he apologized on behalf of the industry to anyone who had been assaulted, harassed or raped in the area or who felt they could not come forward to tell their story. He also promised that the industry would do better.

The harassment statistics will be released, whether it’s when the DMIRS releases the numbers to the media or a parliamentary inquiry drags businesses and the regulator on the coals to get to the bottom of it.

Staying silent on the numbers goes both ways for the industry, with the public not knowing whether there have been a large number or a small number of cases. The industry’s recent response with safety measures is warranted regardless of the extent of the harassment, but knowing the extent and the period of time would also show whether it acted early enough or whether it put its head in. mud.

In the meantime, the actions taken by big miners in recent months to ensure a safer environment in FIFO camps already speaks volumes about the depth of the problem they face in an area where women have only been allowed to start working. work underground only in 1986 in WASHINGTON.

Fortescue and BHP both have wards where workers – who can spend more time on a job site than their own home for the space of a year on long swings – can be brought back to their dorms at night from mess halls. ‘They are worried. go alone. There are also safe zone phone apps and increased CCTV in camps where staff spend their 12 hour downtime on site.

One of three recent media incidents was a BHP worker who was allegedly followed in November to her bedroom in the village of Mulla Mulla near the South Flank mine and raped while intoxicated.

Rio Tinto and BHP recently conducted internal reviews to make their camps and workplaces safer.

As a result, BHP decided to cut the daily alcohol allowance at its camps, while Rio this year brought in a former Australian gender discrimination commissioner to review its operations.

Life in a mining camp feels a bit like a gray area between home and work life compared to city life, but at the end of the day, you’re still at work. So the fact that you even need a chaperone service to protect people from predators, which are coworkers, is scary.

With just 18 percent of the workforce, women outnumber the mining sector. The culture of the industry has made strides in equality, but there is still a long way to go.

Mr Trott said Rio found in its review that employees did not always feel it was safe to raise your voice.


“People haven’t always felt safe in our workplaces and that’s something we need to change,” he said.

“Sometimes they thought it might impact their careers, sometimes they thought they might not have been listened to and I just cheer on anyone who has… suffered from disrespectful behavior, in our workplace or in the whole industry, just have your say and help us root that out of the industry.

Workers need to know that they can go to their employers and raise harassment issues without fear for their careers and that any allegations they make will be acted upon. They also need to know that they can go to the police for many incidents and not have to worry about what it means for their job.

The big miners talked a lot about zero tolerance for sexual harassment on Friday.

These words need to be followed by real action that proves not only to their workforce, but to the community, that this is the case and that the problems are being treated as seriously as workplace accidents, if not the problem. will not go away.

There is also a need to be transparent about the number of harassment incidents and to link them to key performance indicators for senior executives and companies.

The role of the regulator should also be considered by any potential investigation into how it handles the health and safety issue of sexual harassment with businesses. It would not be a bad idea for DMIRS to also conduct a survey of resource workers to find that many people have been affected by sexual harassment.

A 2018 Australian Human Rights Commission investigation Respect @ Work a report last year found that 74 percent of women surveyed had been sexually harassed in the mining industry over a five-year period, but this came from an extremely small group of 57 industry participants.

Ultimately, not all of the upcoming investigation and ongoing internal reviews at resource companies should be forced on victims. Everyone who works in the industry and has seen something should now use this moment to say and do something.

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