Recent reform to the Sex Discrimination and Fair Work (Respect at Work) Amendment Bill 2021 are a step in the right direction to protect volunteers. However, The Centre for Volunteering supports Justice Connect and Volunteering Australia in their position, which states that more needs to be done by governments to better prevent and address sexual harassment against volunteers and other unpaid workers in Australian workplaces.
These reforms have given many volunteers across Australia the legal to make a complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission about sexual harassment or sex-based discrimination.
Prior to these reforms, volunteers were excluded from legal protections under the Federal Sex Discrimination Act 1984, and were forced to rely on other sources of law depending on where they volunteered.
This gap left volunteers who were survivors of sexual harassment in some states and territories without a clear avenue for complaint or resolution – and is symptomatic of a legal system where volunteers are often forgotten.
You can read more about the Sex Discrimination and Fair Work (Respect at Work) Amendment Bill 2021 here.