The report found women aged 15 to 24 were most likely to be a victim. Picture: iStock
The report found women aged 15 to 24 were most likely to be a victim. Picture: iStock

Public service rife with sex creeps

Sex creeps in Victoria's public service are getting away with harassing victims because of low complaint rates and the ability to quit before action is taken, a report reveals.

Just three per cent of sexual harassment victims in Victoria's public service make formal complaints, an audit of government departments found.

The Auditor-General's report, tabled in parliament on Thursday, revealed more than 1400 employees experienced sexual harassment in the past 12 months.

Those who were most likely to be a victim were women aged 15 to 24, those earning less than $75,000 a year, and those from a minority such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander or LGBTQI, according to the report.

"I have witnessed a manager saying that the only good place for a female is in a porn movie," one person told the audit.

Another said, "He pressed his penis against me when I was bending over to pick something up, and he asked me, 'Is that your preferred position?'"

Workers in the Department of Justice who were working with offenders were the most likely to experience sexual harassment.

Victims told auditors often they did not report because they thought the infraction was too minor, were scared of being victimised again or had little confidence in complaints being followed through.

"In our survey, 35 per cent of those who experienced sexual harassment and did not make a formal complaint said it was because they believed there would be negative consequences if they did," the report reads.

"When I was sexually harassed, my manager told me that if I reported it then it would be bad for me. My manager has a close relationship with the person who sexually harassed me and so I felt victimised and … as though I was the one in the wrong," one person told the auditors.

Other victims reported their harasser quitting, or being given the option to quit, before an investigation finished and watching their abuser move into another department with no consequence.

The audit found departments were using out-of-date methods to handle complaints and gave little training to managers.

It made 12 recommendations to improve performance and all departments accepted the directions given to them.



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