WA sexual assault and harassment investigation into WA FIFO industry calls for review and training report

A scathing report on sexual assault and harassment in WA’s inbound and outbound mining industry has found that women have been subjected to “a frightening range of behaviors.”

Key points:

  • The consultation received about 100 submissions for almost a year
  • Today’s report details stories of sexual assault by several women
  • He found that sexual harassment continued to be prevalent in the industry

Titled “Enough is Enough,” the report details how sexual harassment is “generally accepted or overlooked” and describes the “failure” of miners to acknowledge what was happening in their workplaces.

The report includes the stories of several women, including one who became “unconscious with the donga and woke up to find her jeans and shorts around her ankles.”

Another said a man “forced his hand to lower his top numerous times in front of other workers, and no one did anything.”

Another shocking story details a “power play behavior” described as a “shovel,” where iron ore was dumped into the cabs of women-driven trucks if they did not comply with sexual requests.

“It was devastating and utterly inexcusable to hear the reality of the mockery, attacks and targeted violence, devastation and despair experienced by the victims, the threats or the loss of their livelihood. Libby Mettam, president of the investigation, told parliament. .

Libby Mettam asked why government agencies had not responded more effectively to the issues raised in the report. (ABC News: James Carmody)

“This represents a failure for the industry to protect its workers and raises real questions about why the government was not better at this security issue,” he said.

Concerns about the “blacklist” of criminals

The report makes 24 recommendations, including reviewing the report and training in the industry.

One suggestion that emerged during the hearings was a “blacklist” for the entire industry to prevent known criminals from being hired elsewhere, as the consultation heard was common.

But Ms Mettam said this raised issues of confidentiality and natural justice, as well as what the threshold for inclusion would be.

The parliamentary investigation report on sexual assault and harassment in WA mines has been released. (ABC News)

“We have recommended that the industry explore options, which could work effectively and fairly to prevent regular sexual harassment offenders from continuing to be re-employed in the mining workplace,” he said.

“It’s a complex political issue, but it’s too important to ignore.”

Women’s Minister Simone McGurk said the government would consider the recommendations, including the idea of ​​a blacklist, to see if it was practical.

Chamber of Minerals and Energy CEO Rob Carruthers said the industry was already working to improve its selection and selection procedures, but would consider the idea.

Rob Carruthers says the industry is working to improve its verification procedures and would consider the “blacklist” proposal. (ABC News: James Carmody)

“Any such process needs to be practical and generate better results, so we will review it in full detail,” he said.

Representing some of the largest miners in the state, Carruthers said it was a “very challenging day” for the industry.

“To those who have been affected by sexual assault and harassment in our industry, on behalf of our industry, I apologize,” he said.

While acknowledging that it would take time to digest the report, Carruthers said the industry was already committed to eliminating sexual assault and harassment and would support recommendations that were practical.

The report’s recommendations include:

  • The government is setting up a forum to explore the scale of the problem and consider opportunities for redress
  • Mining companies say there are “serious repercussions, including layoffs” for anyone seeking sexual favors
  • The industry sets acceptable safety and security standards in place
  • Regulators improve guidelines and definitions in all areas of the system
  • An expert group will be established within WorkSafe WA to investigate reports of sexual harassment and assault.

The report puts the regulator in the spotlight

The investigation report also questioned why the industry regulator, the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety, had only received 22 allegations of sexual harassment over a seven-year period, despite police n ‘has investigated 23 in just two years.

“It’s hard to believe that the regulator could have accepted this level of reporting as a reflection of the real situation on the ground,” Mettam said.

However, he said Worksafe WA had taken positive steps, issued a new code of conduct that described sexual harassment as unacceptable behavior, and acted to improve its data collection.

But the report also recommends that more be done, especially to improve the exchange of data between different agencies, including the police and CrimeStoppers.

Worksafe has recently taken over mine safety, and Commissioner Darren Kavanagh said work is already underway to help the industry improve and raise information rates.

“I’m sure with the implementation of [new work health and safety] clearer regulations and reporting obligations, this industry now has that direction and so I hope the industry will comply with it from now on, ”he said.

The industry has failed its workers, MPs say

Jodie Hanns, a committee member and Labor MP for Collie-Preston, said the core of the problems was with the mining companies themselves and that the task of solving the problem could not be left to the taxpayers.

“This is a multimillion-dollar industry, earning billions of dollars of resources owned by the people of Western Australia,” he told the WA Parliament.

“The industry has failed in its efforts to get things done, to ensure a safe job for its workers.”

Ms Hanns said the investigation also led her to realize that she would not want her own daughter to work in the mining industry.

“The answer for me is not the laws we can make as a government, it’s not even the role of Parliament, it’s the very real risk to your safety, your personal safety and the risk of sexual assault. and sexual harassment, “he said. dit.

“This should scare all Western Australian parents of young girls and women.”

Procedures should put victims first: report it

Complaint procedures, both internal and external to companies, were another issue raised by the report, which called for “victim-centered procedures” to deal with complaints.

Mettam says it is time for the government to join the mining industry to address the issues raised in the report. (ABC News: Kathryn Diss)

“We were surprised at how many of the people who sent us communications did not know the available reporting systems or clearly distrusted them,” Ms Mettam said.

“The key to change is to incorporate a work culture into all the mining workforce that does not tolerate sexual assault or abuse, empowering viewers, as well as culture change programs that have addressed physical security with so much success.

“It is now up to the mining industry and the government to take the recommendations of this report seriously.

“It is time to come together to make the necessary cultural, systemic and legislative changes to equip, prepare and educate the workforce.”

Mines Minister Bill Johnston said the government would support and support the victims in any way possible, adding that the industry had work to do.

Ms McGurk said that while the problem was not unique to mining, the circumstances in many places exacerbated the problem.

WA Communities Minister Simone McGurk says women will be discouraged from working in mining if the issues are not addressed. (ABC News: Keane Bourke)

“This is, of course, a vicious circle, where women are not attracted to working in the industry, let alone staying in the industry, due to men’s dominance and contempt for women’s experiences, but it needs to be addressed. ” she said.

He said the government was taking sexual harassment and assault at work seriously and said it was up to the mining sector to keep its promises.

The main mines gave evidence

The investigation lasted nearly a year, received about 100 communications and examined some of the state’s largest miners, as well as government regulators.

BHP was reportedly fired from 48 employees for misconduct for two years, while Rio Tinto fired at least 12 people for sexual harassment or assault last year.

One woman testified that she had been offered sex in two different mine sites and would only use the gym at 3am when no one else was there.

Prior to today’s report, government-appointed labor culture expert Elizabeth Shaw reviewed the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety’s responses to sexual harassment and assault on the mining industry.

Earlier this year, Rio Tinto published an internal review of its culture, detailing stories about school bullying, racism and sexism.

The report found that women experienced daily masculinity in the Rio Tinto mines. (ABC: Stephen Stockwell)

In a statement, the company said it welcomed today’s report as it continues to implement all the recommendations of its own review.

“We will look closely at the recommendations contained in the report as we continue to look for ways to avoid disrespectful behavior in our business,” said Simon Trott, Iron Ore’s executive director.

“While we know we have a long way to go to eradicate disrespectful behavior in our business, we are committed to strengthening our long-term work culture.”

After defining sexual assault and harassment as a security risk in 2018, BHP pledged $ 300 million last year in security improvements to its sites, including guards, CCTV and lighting.

Posted 4 hours ago 4 hours ago Thu, June 23, 2022 at 3:37 am, updated 57 m ago, 57 minutes ago, Thu, June 23, 2022 at 7:15 AM

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