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Sexual harassment

Last updated July 2023

This chapter explains how to reduce the risks and manage complaints of sexual harassment.

What is sexual harassment?

Definition: Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment occurs when a person is subjected to any unwanted or uninvited sexual behaviour that is offensive, intimidating or humiliating.

Unlawful sexual harassment is conduct that:

  • is of a sexual nature, e.g. sexual advances, acts of physical intimacy, and verbal or written comments of a sexual nature;
  • is directed to the person or about the person in their presence;
  • is not solicited or invited, i.e. unwelcome; and
  • a reasonable person, having regard to all the circumstances, would anticipate that the person harassed would be offended, humiliated or intimidated, i.e. reasonable person test.
Important: The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) 2018 survey results show 61% of women say they have experienced some form of sexual harassment.

When determining whether conduct is sexual harassment, several factors are relevant, including:

  • the relationship between the person harassed and the person who engaged in the conduct;
  • the age of the person harassed;
  • the marital status of the person harassed; and
  • the religious beliefs of the person harassed.