In Australia’s first groundbreaking study views and perspectives of women from migrant and refugee backgrounds are being sought to capture their experiences of sexual harassment in the workplace.
Researchers from Monash University have partnered with Harmony Alliance which is the National Women’s Alliance representing migrant and refugee women to conduct this national study funded by ANROWS.
Experts note said past national studies on workplace sexual harassment had not explored migrant and refugee women’s experiences of sexual harassment in the workplace in detail.
According to the project statement, the new study will “build on the knowledge that migrant and refugee women are more likely to be in precarious employment i.e. non-permanent, casualised, or contract labour.”
Other factors such as limited English proficiency, non-permanent visa status, race-based bias and discrimination, and disparate cultural expectations can also contribute to the likelihood of experiencing work-based sexual harassment.
Lead researcher Associate Professor Marie Segrave from the Monash Gender and Family Violence Prevention Centre said:
“Migrant and refugee women remain largely overshadowed in major national studies and national commitments to ending sexual harassment in the workplace.”
Results from the study will aim to build a national picture of the experiences of a diverse group of migrant and refugee women with the view of informing more targeted engagement with women and workplaces regarding unacceptable workplace behaviour.
Nyadol Nyuon OAM, Chair of Harmony Alliance says it is important to carry out such studies. She adds:
“It’s so important that we now understand the experiences of migrant and refugee women who we know are at a higher risk of sexual harassment at work so that we can develop the systemic and cultural responses that are needed to ensure their safety.”
Further, Ms Nyuon is hopeful that this study will help highlight stories of workplace sexual harassment. She adds:
“We can work together to ensure women in Australia, from all backgrounds, are protected from sexual harassment in the workplace. That’s why this first ever research into migrant and refugee women’s experiences of sexual harassment in the workplace is so important and why we are asking women all over Australia to share their stories.”
It is hoped that the new study will provide governments, employers, and industry groups with the evidence they need to support migrant and refugee women in Australian workplaces. Assoc. Prof. Segrave adds:
“We’re hoping to lay the groundwork for developing more informed and responsive systems that are attuned to the social and systemic factors that influence how women negotiate and respond to experiences of sexual harassment as bystanders and/or targets.”
The views and responses collected in this study will be used to guide training and education needs and to identify service gaps in the current system.
Padma Raman PSM, CEO of ANROWS said:
“We know these groups of women experience high levels of sexual harassment, and this research will help us develop more effective and culturally safe strategies to prevent and respond to it.”
As per the latest Census data released by ABS, almost half of the adult population in Australia are overseas-born citizens, permanent residents, and temporary visa holders.
This new project has been funded as part of the Australian Government’s response to the Respect@Work report. The project involves an online survey, in-depth interviews, and focus group discussions. These would be conducted with key women leaders and diverse groups of women across different levels of English language proficiency, citizenship or visa status, employment status, and work settings.