Australia’s Gender Discrimination Commissioner calls for urgent change in the mining sector

Australia’s Gender Discrimination Commissioner has called for urgent change in the country’s mining industry after a state government report found sexual harassment and assault were rampant in the sector.

The Western Australian parliamentary report released on Thursday detailed what it said was horrendous behavior towards women in the mining industry and recommended sweeping changes, including the creation of a sex offender register.

“It (the report) is comprehensive and confronting in highlighting both the unacceptable treatment of women and, even more shockingly, the fact that this treatment was until recently invisible to employers in the mining industry,” said the Australian Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Kate Jenkins. Reuters in a statement.

Jenkins said the report makes “strong, evidence-based recommendations for changes that are urgently needed in the mining industry.”

The investigation by Western Australia, home to the bulk of the country’s iron ore sector, was prompted by concerns about a culture of sexism and bullying in the industry.

Australia accounts for around half of the world’s iron ore exports, and women have long complained of sexual harassment in so-called “fly in, fly out” mining camps, temporary accommodation set up in remote mines to house workers. workers.

Western Australia’s mining sector employs around 150,000 people and generated A$208 billion ($143 billion) in export revenue in 2020/21.

Australia’s federal government said it would consider whether the issues raised in the report could be resolved at the national level.

“The minister will work with the WA state government and industry on measures to end sexual harassment and assault,” said Australian Resources Minister spokeswoman Madeleine King.

The investigation found that state regulators were not accurately and consistently recording data on the extent of sexual harassment and assault.

While state police have investigated 23 reports of sexual assaults at mine sites over the past two years, the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS) reports that he had only received 22 reports in seven years.

“It is hard to believe that the regulator could have accepted this level of reporting as reflecting the true situation on the ground,” the inquest noted.

In response to questions to DMIRS, Workplace Safety Commissioner Darren Kavanagh told Reuters he was reviewing the recommendations of the inquiry before advising the government on the next course of action.

(Editing by Jane Merriman)

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