HORTICULTURE groups are being urged to ensure their procedures for dealing with sexual harassment and bullying are up to date.
Voice of Horticulture chairwoman, Tania Chapman, has made the most of the current volatile political environment and recent revelations of bullying within agriculture circles to remind the organisation’s members to be on the front foot.
“The Board’s aim is to ensure that all its members are protected and have a complete grasp on all sexual harassment and bullying issues which could affect an organisation, as well as their employees and volunteers,” Ms Chapman.
Ms Chapman said that while the focus is currently on women, it should be remembered that it can also include males within the organisation.
“Our total aim should be for respect and equal opportunity regardless of age or gender,” she said.
“Whether it be directors, employees or volunteers on committee’s, we all know how difficult it is to find the right people and how sourcing volunteers can often seem impossible as most are so focussed on running their farms and businesses.
“Dealing with new regulations and policies is the last thing people want to do when they are working in an industry body, but policies are needed to protect these volunteers and employees so that our peak bodies can represent growers”.
According to Safe Work Australia, 9.4 per cent of Australian workers indicated that they had experienced workplace bullying in the months from 2014–15.
The statistics also showed 37pc of Australian workers reported being sworn or yelled at in their workplace.
Safe Work Australia says there are legal obligations to consider all health and safety risks in the workplace including workplace bullying.
“Failure to take steps to manage the risk of workplace bullying can result in a breach of workplace health and safety laws,” the SWA website says.
“Workplace bullying is best dealt with by taking steps to prevent it from happening and responding quickly if it does occur.
“The longer the bullying behaviour continues, the harder it becomes to repair working relationships and the greater the risk to health and safety.”
Ms Chapman said in today’s environment; establishing an anti-harassment policy which is known, understood and enforced in an organisation should be mandatory.
“Whether you are required to have a written anti-harassment policy or not, having one in place can be a valuable tool to prevent and defend against costly lawsuits,” she said.
“Remember an anti-harassment policy is only valuable if it is enforced. Having the policy in your employee or board handbook which is read, understood, and signed by every person; is a logical place to distribute this information.”