Nearly Half Of All Women In The Australian Federal Police Have Reported Sexual Harassment

The rates of harassment are twice the national average.

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A new report investigating the culture of the Australian Federal Police (AFP) has found that 46 percent of women and 20 percent of men reported being sexually harassed in their workplace over the past five years. Two-thirds of men and women also reported being bullied in the workplace. The AFP’s commissioner has apologised to employees who have been victims of sexual harassment and bullying, but the report has called for further “immediate action”.

The report was commissioned by the AFP and conducted by Liz Broderick, a former federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner who conducted a high-profile review into the treatment of women at the Australian Defence Force Academy. It found that the level of sexual harassment within the AFP is twice the national average. The proportion of younger women in the AFP who reported sexual harassment was much higher than that of older women. A massive 54 percent of women aged 18-29 reported harassment.

The most common forms of harassment reported were sexually suggestive comments, intrusive questions about an employee’s private life, inappropriate staring and unwelcome touching. One woman told the report, “It’s not as overt as it once was. But it’s more insidious and hidden.” Another said “I think we have had to adapt to the ‘boys club’. That often means turning a blind eye to things that might be unacceptable but just sucking it up.”

The big problem for the AFP is that a number of female employees described the culture of sexual harassment as “endemic” and “rampant”. The report proposed a number of recommendations to address sexual harassment including the establishment of an independent office to provide support to victims, considering terminating the employment of staff found to be committing sexual harassment and enforcing mandatory training on respectful workplaces for all employees.

The AFP Commissioner, Andrew Colvin, has said that he will implement all of the report’s recommendations. “These practices will not be tolerated and I am putting in place actions which will respond positively to all 24 recommendations in this report,” he said.