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Violence against women and 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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Migrant and refugee women in Australia: A study of sexual harassment in the workplace

This is the first national study of migrant and refugee women’s experiences, understandings and responses to workplace sexual harassment of its type.

This research was developed to support and enhance the Australian Government’s A Roadmap for Respect: Preventing and Addressing Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces (2021). Aligning with national commitments to report on and respond to sexual harassment in the workplace, this research fills a recognised gap in addressing the specificity of migrant and refugee women’s experiences. These are not adequately captured in national data currently collected by the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC). By building a detailed national picture of the experiences of a diverse group of migrant and refugee women, this research will inform more targeted engagement with women and workplaces regarding unacceptable workplace behaviour.

The research employed a mixed methods approach comprising of two phases: a national survey and a national qualitative project talking to migrant and refugee women and stakeholders across Australia. This report details the findings from a survey of 701 migrant and refugee women.

The survey adopted a behavioural approach to sexual harassment drawing largely on the AHRC’s Everyone’s Business: Fourth National Survey on Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces (2018) survey instrument, which detailed 15 behaviours that constitute sexual harassment. Conducted online from August to September 2022, the survey was made available in six languages: Arabic, English, Farsi, Swahili, Chinese (Simplified) and Dari. 11 per cent of respondents completed the survey in a language other than English.

The research found that just under half (46%) of the migrant and refugee women in this study had experienced at least one form of sexual harassment in the workplace in the last 5 years in Australia. The women in this sample rarely experienced only one type of sexual harassment or reported only one incident. Men were most frequently the harassers in the workplace. Across all incident types, those in senior positions were reported as engaging in sexually harassing behaviour in the workplace most frequently, followed closely by clients. For each of the 15 types of sexual harassment, respondents were asked about their perception of the motivation for the harassment; gender and race were consistently perceived as the primary motivations for the incident. This finding illuminates the importance of addressing and understanding gender-based and sexual harassment as deeply connected to discrimination based on race and religion.



Publication details

This work is part of the 2021–2024 ANROWS Sexual Harassment Research Program. ANROWS research reports are in-depth reports on empirical research produced under ANROWS’s research program.


Professor, Monash University

Professor, Griffith University

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Monash University

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Monash University


978-1-922645-74-6 (paperback) | 978-1-922645-75-3 (PDF)

76 pp.


Suggested citation

Segrave, M., Wickes, R., Keel, C., & Tan, S. J. (2023). Migrant and refugee women in Australia: A study of sexual harassment in the workplace (Research report, 06/2023). ANROWS.

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