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How to comply with the new positive duty under the Sex Discrimination Act

The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has released practical guidance on how to comply with the new positive duty under the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth).

In December 2022, a new positive duty (similar to work health and safety laws) was introduced, requiring organisations to positively take steps to eliminate, so far as possible, unlawful behaviour including:

  • discrimination on the ground of sex in a work context;
  • sexual harassment in connection with work;
  • sex-based harassment in connection with work;
  • conduct creating a workplace environment that is hostile on the ground of sex; and
  • related to acts of victimisation.

The practical actions that the AHRC expects organisations to take are set out in its new guidance material.

The actions are categorised into seven standards:

  1. leadership;
  2. culture;
  3. knowledge;
  4. risk management;
  5. support;
  6. reporting and response; and
  7. monitoring, evaluation and transparency.

All organisations should review and incorporate these guidelines into their current work practices, and ensure that staff are trained in these new laws.

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