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Kirra’s manager comments on her looks and tries to kiss her

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Aboriginal woman looking at camera with contented expression

The incidents portrayed in this story are inspired by real complaints received by the Commission, but all names and other identifying details have been changed. The photo above is a stock photo, posed by a model.

‘He made me feel so uncomfortable at work. I was so happy with my job but not long after he grabbed me, I had to quit.’

Kirra was happily working as a shop assistant. A new manager started in the shop and he was very friendly towards her.

The new manager would comment on how beautiful she looked and her ‘sexy legs’. Kirra felt awkward and uncomfortable when he commented on her looks and ignored him and continued to do her work.

The manager continued to leer at her and asked her to have drinks with him after work. Kirra told him she had a boyfriend. Not long after, when working alone at the back of the store, the manager came up from behind her, grabbed her hips and tried to kiss her.

Kirra was upset and left work and rang the owner of the store to complain. Rumours spread within the workplace that she was having an affair with the manager. Kirra resigned from her job as she was distraught by what had occurred to her.

How does the law apply to Kirra’s situation?

The Equal Opportunity Act makes sexual harassment against the law in certain areas of public life, including at work.

Sexual harassment is unwelcome sexual behaviour that causes a person to feel offended, humiliated, or intimidated, where a reasonable person could have anticipated that reaction in the circumstances.

Employers have a positive duty to provide a safe workplace and to take all reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment at work.

Kirra could make a complaint of sexual harassment and victimisation against the manager and her employer.

What outcomes are available?

If Kirra decides to make a complaint to the Commission, she could ask for outcomes that are important to her and her community. These could include:

  • telling her story and being heard
  • an acknowledgement of her experience
  • a promise to change or stop the behaviour
  • financial compensation
  • being given a statement of service or a
  • training in equal opportunity and sexual harassment so the workplace knows it should not happen again
  • reviewing and updating equal opportunity and sexual harassment policies
  • the shop talking publicly (e.g., on social media) about their commitment to ensuring their workplace is free from discrimination.

Are you in a similar situation?

You can start by contacting us with your enquiry or complaint – we will then take you through your rights and options.

We can listen to your story and provide you with information about your rights under our laws.

We have staff specifically trained to support First Nations peoples make enquiries and complaints.

When you contact us, we will ask if you identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander so that we can provide you with an inclusive and culturally appropriate service.

You can also choose to speak directly to a First Nations staff member if one is available.

This is our tailored approach for First Nations peoples.

You can contact us by

Phone

Call 1300 292 153 – weekdays from 9 am–4 pm.

Email

Send us an email at complaints@veohrc.vic.gov.au with your issue and whether you would like to speak with a First Nations staff member.

Online chat

Talk with us through our live online chat. Available weekdays from 10 am–4 pm.

Online complaint form

Send us your complaint through our online complaint form.

Letter

Send us a letter to our address: Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, Level 3, 204 Lygon Street, Carlton, Victoria 3053

Read more about

Tailored services for First Nations peoples

The complaints process, support, and services for First Nations peoples.

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Address
Level 3, 204 Lygon Street Carlton Victoria 3053

General enquiries
enquiries@veohrc.vic.gov.au

Reception
1300 891 848

Enquiry line
1300 292 153 or (03) 9032 3583

Interpreters
1300 152 494

NRS Voice Relay
1300 555 727 then use 1300 292 153

Media enquiries
0447 526 642

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission acknowledge we work on the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We also work remotely and serve communities on the lands of other Traditional Custodians.

We pay our respects to their Elders past and present.