Additional Comments from the Australian Greens

Additional Comments from the Australian Greens

1.1The Greens welcome the Australian Human Rights Commission Amendment (Costs Protection) Bill 2023.

1.2The modified ‘equal access’ cost protection provision put forward in this Bill is one the Greens and many advocates have called for, and will ensure that no-one is priced out of fighting sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace.

1.3We agree with many of the inquiry participants that costs should not be the determining factor in whether workers are prepared to call out bad behaviour and insist on a safe workplace.

1.4As we heard throughout the inquiry, without an equal access cost model in place, many workers, particularly women, weigh up the trauma and financial risk and decide to stay silent. It shouldn’t bankrupt vulnerable Australians to take up a matter of sexual harassment or discrimination.

1.5The 2022 National Survey of Sexual Harassment found that young women working in the fast-food and retail industries are experiencing significantly higher rates of harassment. These industries are comparatively low paid and characterised by unpredictable and insecure work. The modified equal access costs model in this Bill will help protect young women in these industries and it will help set the standard for workplace behaviour.

1.6Equal access costs protections already exist for whistleblowers. We are happy to support changes that will see these same protections applied to workplace harassment.

1.7The Greens are proud to have kept the pressure up to ensure that no-one is priced out of fighting for their rights at work, whether that be for sexual harassment or any other type of discrimination.

Senator Larissa Waters

Greens Senator for Queensland