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Violence against women and their children affects everybody. It impacts on the health, wellbeing and safety of a significant proportion of Australians throughout all states and territories and places an enormous burden on the nation’s economy across family and community services, health and hospitals, income-support and criminal justice systems.

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ANROWS was established by the Commonwealth and all state and territory governments of Australia to produce, disseminate and assist in applying evidence for policy and practice addressing violence against women and their children.

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To support the take-up of evidence, ANROWS offers a range of resources developed from research to support practitioners and policy-makers in delivering evidence-based interventions.


SH.22.01

Understanding and addressing sexual harassment in the Australian retail sector

Project length
24 months

Sexual harassment is an acute problem for retail workers, who are predominantly young, low paid, and precariously employed (i.e. non-permanent, casualised or contract labour).


Retail workers represent 11 per cent of the Australian working population.

The workforce is very diverse and many workers within it are particularly vulnerable to, and thus more likely to experience, sexual and gender-based harassment at work.

Research aim/s

This project will investigate how employees and managers in the Australian retail sector understand, experience and manage sexual harassment at work. This research will inform targeted actions to address and prevent sexual harassment in retail workplaces through collaboration with key sector stakeholders.

 

Methods

This mixed-methods study combines quantitative analysis of national survey data with analysis of new qualitative data, collected through in-depth interviews with key retail stakeholders and targeted focus groups with retail store managers and retail workers.

The research project’s four phases are designed to deliver new analysis of large-scale survey data; produce qualitative findings; and develop evidence-based, co-designed materials to support stakeholders to prevent and address sexual harassment at work.

 

Significance

Elevating the voices of vulnerable workforce groups, retail managers and key stakeholders across the retail ecosystem, the project will generate new insight into the complex dynamics that shape sexual harassment in the sector. Taking a gendered approach, the project will allow us to investigate and understand the common and unique experiences of vulnerable men and women in the sector.

The new evidence base will inform practical, co-designed materials and workplace interventions which the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association, the National Retail Association and the Australian Human Rights Commission have signalled a keen interest to employ in their work addressing sexual harassment in retail.


Researchers

Project lead

Professor Rae Cooper AO, University of Sydney

Research team

Associate Professor Elizabeth Hill, University of Sydney

Dr Meraiah Foley, University of Sydney

Dr Briony Lipton, University of Sydney

Research partners

The project will include an advisory committee comprising representatives from the Australian Human Rights Commission and Australian National University alongside representatives from the retail sector across Australia.

  • Julia Fox, National Assistant Secretary, Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association (SDA)
  • Dominique Lamb, Chief Executive Officer, National Retail Association
  • Kate Jenkins, Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)
  • Professor Ariadne Vromen, Australian National University (ANU)

Budget

$170,000 (excluding GST)

This project is funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services.

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