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Strategic partnership targeting sexual discrimination in workplace

Monday, 18 March 2024

Professor Iain Martin Kate Jenkins Frances Diver

Two of Geelong’s largest employers Deakin University and Barwon Health have welcomed former Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins AO to a briefing of senior staff as part of their shared commitment to safe, respectful, diverse and inclusive workplaces.

Ms Jenkins served as Sex Discrimination Commissioner between 2016 to 2023 and spearheaded the world's inaugural National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces. Since the publication of the Respect@Work Report in 2020, the Federal Government has committed to implementing all 55 recommendations in full.

In addition to her unique insights into the nature and prevalence of sexual harassment in the workplace, Ms Jenkins discussed the implications of new legislation, requirements for compliance with the positive duty laws outlined in the Sex Discrimination Act and the collective responsibility we all share in fostering secure, respectful and inclusive environments across industries and sectors.

Deakin Vice-Chancellor Professor Iain Martin said he was delighted to welcome Ms Jenkins to Geelong.

"Today’s briefing to senior leaders across our two organisations is a part of our proactive commitment to staff that our workplaces are respectful, inclusive and free of sexual harassment," Professor Martin said.

"It is critical that our senior executive and people leaders are aware of their responsibilities and obligations as set down by our Respect and Sexual Harm and Gender Equity programs at Deakin.

"This event also coincides with the start of Deakin’s Respect at Uni Campaign, an initiative that started last year and involves universities across Victoria," Professor Martin said.

Barwon Health CEO Frances Diver said Deakin and Barwon Health had forged a strong and strategic partnership over more than two decades of education and research collaboration.

"That partnership includes a shared commitment to improve health and wellbeing that begins with our workforce – our clinicians, academics, researchers and students," Ms Diver said.

"Barwon Health is deeply committed to learning from Ms Jenkins’ expertise, wisdom and experience, as we strive to respond to and prevent sexual harassment in our workplaces, improve gender equality and healthcare more broadly."

Professor Martin and Ms Diver acknowledged the work of Deakin’s Diversity Equity and Inclusion division and Barwon Health’s People and Culture directorate for their leadership in this space.