Sexual harassment rates in the workplace have reached an all time high, with progress in combating it stalling, according to a new report released by the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC).


The Working without fear: Results of the sexual harassment national telephone survey 2012 report shows that an alarming one if every five people aged 15 years or older have been sexually harassed in the workplace over the last five years.


The research found that 25 per cent of women and 16 per cent of men had been sexually harassed in the workplace over the past five years. In examining a person’s entire lifetime, the gender gap  grows to 33 per cent of women and 9 per cent of men.


The study shows that the majority of victims of sexual harassment in the workplace are women aged under 40, while the perpetrators are most likely to be male co-workers. Women are five times more likely to have been harassed by a boss or an employer. Men harassing women accounts for more than half of all sexual harassment, while male harassment of men accounts for nearly a quarter.


AHRC Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick said that while the findings are alarming, the most hearting figures relate to the action taken by bystanders.


“Fifty-one per cent of people who were bystanders – that is over half - took some action to prevent or reduce the harm of the sexual harassment they were aware of,” Ms Broderick said.


“Bystanders have an extremely important role to play in confronting and combatting sexual harassment.”


“Eradicating sexual harassment from our workplaces will require leadership and a genuine commitment from everyone – government, employers, employer associations, unions and employees,” Ms Broderick said.


The survey is available at: