PERTH (miningweekly.com) – The Western Australian government on Tuesday tabled a progress report in Parliament on the Parliamentary Inquiry into the fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) mining industry, outlining the actions being taken across key areas such as primary prevention, data and research, refocused regulatory framework, and better support and advocacy for victims of workplace sexual harassment.
“The government's Progress Report highlights our commitment to building a workplace culture of inclusivity, respect and safety for women,” said Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston.
“While important progress has been made, we recognise there is more work to be done. We will continue to collaborate with industry and the community to create workplaces that proactively prevent inappropriate behaviour.
“All organisations, industry leaders, employers and individuals have a responsibility to speak out against this behaviour, to hold perpetrators to account,” the Minister said.
Regulatory amendments to the Work Health and Safety (General) Regulations 2022 and Work Health and Safety (Mines) Regulations 2022 are already underway, which will clearly mandate the requirement for companies to address psychosocial hazards such as sexual harassment and other inappropriate behaviours in the workplace.
Johnston noted that improvements introduced through the state government's Mental Awareness, Respect and Safety (MARS) Program are funding critical support for victim-survivors and developing resources to support individuals and employers to prevent and respond to workplace violence.
This includes training to upskill mining industry personnel to respond and support victims of sexual harassment incidents.
Circle Green Community Legal has been funded to provide legal triage and non-legal social services to those working in Western Australia's mining sector who have been affected by workplace sexual harassment.
Other ongoing initiatives include an e-learning program delivered by the Sexual Assault Resource Centre, a Respect in Mining pilot initiative to engage workers about gendered drivers of violence, an independent Regulatory Capability Review (RCR) and the development of a Code of Practice for accommodation facilities.
A Leadership Summit will also be hosted in the first half of 2023 to drive cultural change across Western Australia's mining industry by bringing together company boards, mine management, supervisors, health and safety representatives and safety professionals.
The existing code of practice for mentally healthy workplaces for FIFO workers in the resources and construction sectors is being reviewed by the Department of Mining, Industry Regulation and Safety and will be delivered to the Mining and Petroleum Advisory Committee and the Work Health and Safety Commission.
“The government is doing important and nation-leading work to stamp out sexual violence in the workplace. Everyone has a right to feel safe and supported at work,” Women's Interests Minister Simone McGurk said.
“Workplace sexual harassment is not a women's issue; it a societal issue which all organisations, employers and individuals have a responsibility to address. The message is clear. We need more women to work in this sector and we need them to be treated with respect.”
The resources sector has welcomed the progress report, with the Chamber of Minerals and Energy for Western Australia (CME) saying the sector appreciated the efforts to ensure a safe, respectful and inclusive workplace.
“All parties are working towards the final goal of ensuring workplaces and society are respectful, safe and inclusive for all. The Western Australian mining and resources sector is committed to eliminating sexual harassment and sexual assault from our workplaces and I know that is something that the Western Australian government is committed to as well,” said CME CEO Rebecca Tomkinson.
Tomkinson said the Western Australian mining and resources sector maintained a proactive approach to promoting diversity and inclusion within its workforce.
“CME and its member companies also continue widespread and concentrated efforts to increase diversity across the WA mining and resources sector, which aligns with another recommendation to industry from the Inquiry, which was to work to lift the percentage of women in the workforce," Tomkinson said.
The Association of Mining and Exploration Companies (Amec) also welcomed the progress report, with CEO Warren Pearce adding that, from the outset, there had been a consistent acknowledgement that these behaviours must change.
“The progress report tabled today highlights the strides taken by both industry and government, to create safer workplaces for our workers.
“Over the last 18 months Amec and our member companies have undertaken reviews of current and best-practices to address these serious issues and will continue to incorporate additional measures to combat sexual harassment in the workplace,” he said.
“While there is still much work to be done, the progress to date highlights the importance of safety for our workforce and our industry, and shows the substantive steps being taking by industry and government to address these issues.”