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AWU condemns mining companies’ inaction on sexual violence

June 22, 2022

The Australian Workers’ Union has condemned mining companies’ continued inaction on sexual violence following reports of yet another alleged assault, this time on a female worker in the Pilbara.

Police are investigating an alleged sexual assault at Hancock Prospecting’s Roy Hill mine, just days before a WA parliamentary inquiry into sexual harassment against women in the resources industry is due to be tabled on Thursday.

“The West Australian mining industry has been saying it has cleaned up its act and that nothing further needs to be done,” AWU WA Secretary Brad Gandy said.

“But if this latest incident isn’t a clear warning to the WA Government that the sector still has deep rooted problems, I am not sure what is.

“Plainly, the mining companies have again comprehensively failed to protect their workers from sexual harassment and failed to reassure them that they will act on their concerns.

“The Government must make a stand and drag these belligerent mine companies and their managers kicking and screaming to solve this problem.”

It its submission to the inquiry the AWU revealed a comprehensive survey had found sexual assault was endemic in the industry, driven in large part by management actively discouraging women from coming forward.

The survey found: one in five had experienced physical acts of sexual assaults; one in five had been explicitly or implicitly offered career advancement or benefits in return for sexual favours: and one in three had received requests for sexual favours and repeated invitations to engage in sexual relationships.

WA Police also told the inquiry they had investigated 23 sexual harassment claims at mine sites in two years, 21 against women.

“Women deserve fair access to the skilled, well-remunerated job opportunities offered by WA’s prosperous mining industry,” Mr Gandy said.

“But the mining companies, at every opportunity, have failed to ensure that women can work in these environments safely.

“The AWU has made multiple, sensible recommendations on how to help fix the cultural problems in WA mining. It’s now up to the WA Government to act decisively and protect women in the industry.”

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