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Raise it! Conversations about sexual harassment and workplace equality

Some topics are tough to talk about. Discussing sexual harassment, pregnancy, parental leave and access to flexible work can be really hard. That’s why we created Raise it!, a holistic program to address workplace sex discrimination and sexual harassment. Raise it! was developed and piloted in 2018 with funding from the Office for Women.

Program structure

Raise it! consists of key activities across three stages:

1. Preparation

This initial stage includes engagement with clients, a policy and protocol check, a communications kit and one-to-one support from Commission staff as required by clients.

2. Education

Drawing on leading practice and research, our education program incorporates empathetic and interactive activities. These activities increase awareness, knowledge and skills about addressing sexual harassment and discrimination related to parental leave and returning to work, as well as flexible and part-time work.

The Raise it! program enables participants to build and practise conversation skills through safe role play and group activities. It also has a focus on building bystander and manager skills to identify, address and respond to incidents of sexual harassment.

3. Resource provision

We provide clients with our ‘Conversation starter kits’, which have been developed with a human-centred design approach. These resources complement the education program and increase confidence and skills to have safe and healthy conversations about the key issues. The kits include three online chatbots:

    • a flexible work request planner
    • a parental leave and pregnancy planner
    • a sexual harassment support and response tool

Our fourth toolkit is a multimedia Conversation starter kit for managers, HR staff and champions. This kit is made up of posters, challenge or ‘conversation starter’ cards, and a planner and helpful guide for managers and champions.

Why we know it works

We engaged Social Ventures Australia to assist with the development of a theory of change and program logics for the program, and to conduct an external evaluation of our pilot in 2019. The evaluation found that Raise it! increased awareness of sexual harassment and sex discrimination across all pilot sites. It also built skills and confidence among staff and managers to have safe and healthy conversations about sexual harassment, flexible work planning and pregnancy and parental leave. These early interventions prevent harmful and unlawful behaviour at the outset and contribute to safe, fair and inclusive workplace cultures.

Our Raise it! Evaluation insights and enhancements from the pilot program paper provides an overview of the evidence-base and design of the program. It also summarises the key findings and recommendations of the external evaluation and sets out our own additional insights, and program enhancements.

Tailoring Raise it! to your needs

We designed the Raise it! program so it can be tailored and scaled to meet the specific needs and context of individual workplaces.

For more information on how we can customise Raise it! for you, please call us on (03) 9032 3467 or email education@veohrc.vic.gov.au.

If you need help

If you have experienced sex discrimination or sexual harassment at work, you may wish to:

  • make a complaint to the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission or call our Enquiry Line on 1300 292 153
  • call 1800 RESPECT for emergency healthcare referral, support or counselling services. 1800 Respect is the national sexual assault (and domestic family violence) counselling service. Available 24 hours on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800respect.org.au
  • contact the Victorian Sexual Assault Crisis Line (SACL) crisis line on 1800 806 292 or counselling line on 8345 3494
  • call the Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health (MCWH) Information line on 1800 656 421 (available in more than 40 languages).