WA Chief Justice Peter Quinlan says everyone has a role to play in tackling sexual harassment in the workplace

Written by

WA’s top judge says anyone who has worked in an industry for any length of time and claims they have never been sexually harassed is either “lying” or “morally obtuse”.

Speaking at the Women in Mining and Resources WA summit in Perth, Chief Justice Peter Quinlan called out what he described as a willingness to be “blind” to sexual harassment, describing workplace culture as an issue “too important to be left behind” to the culture wars”.

The summit is the first of its kind since the release of a scathing report into sexual harassment in the state’s FIFO mining industry.

Titled Enough is Enough, the review exposed the prevalence of sexual assault and harassment in the sector – revealing stories of women being asked to have sex with supervisors to make security checks disappear, and one who was knocked unconscious in his donga, only to wake up to find his clothes around his ankles.

Willful blindness perpetuated by ‘us’ and ‘them’ attitude

The Chief Justice began his speech by reflecting on remarks he made at a workshop on sexual harassment last year.

Addressing a group of lawyers, he spoke of his realization that there had been times when he had been “too ignorant, willfully blind or simply afraid” to speak out about sexual harassment and gender discrimination he had witnessed in the workplace.

He said some described those comments as an “extraordinary concession” – a response he said ran “the real risk of distorting our public conversation and our response to the issue going forward”.

About the author

Leave a Comment