Dozens of Horrific Cases of Sexual Harassment and Abuse of Women Workers at Australia’s Mining Firms Reported

Dozens Of Horrific Cases Of Sexual Harassment And Abuse Of Women Workers At Australia’S Mining Firms Reported
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An investigation into Australia’s mining industry revealed dozens of horrific cases of sexual harassment and abuse of women workers at companies such as BHP Group and Rio Tinto Group.

The mining sector in Western Australia has shockingly high incidence of systematic sexual harassment and assault against women workers. Legislators are now requesting urgent measures to safeguard female workers in this multibillion-dollar resource industry.

An examination by state lawmakers that lasted almost a year came to the conclusion that Western Australia’s multibillion dollar mining industry failed to protect women from sexual predators.

According to its study, victims have experienced violence, stalking, grooming, and employment threats.

Photo Of Libby Mettam Member Of The Western Australian Legislative Assembly
📷 Libby Mettam, Member of the Western Australian Legislative Assembly.
 Credit: Justin Benson-Cooper/The West Australian

“I was shocked and appalled well beyond expectation by the size and depth of the problem,” Libby Mettam, chair of the inquiry, said in the report.

“To hear the lived reality of the taunts, attacks and targeted violence, the devastation and despair the victims experienced, the threats to or loss of their livelihood that resulted was shattering and completely inexcusable.”

The investigation into allegations of abuse in the resources sector was ordered after several women reported sexual misconduct at major Western Australian mines to police.

Female workers at remote facilities “frequently have to deal with sexual harassment and sexual assault,” according to lawmakers. Employers ignored many incidents.

The report condemned the state’s mining safety regulator and government officials for their inaction.

It revealed BHP Group documented 91 incidents of suspected sexual harassment or assault between July 1, 2019, and June 30, 2021, with 79 of those reports being “substantiated.”

Rio Tinto, from January 2020 to August 2021, received 51 complaints of sexual harassment or assault in FIFO operations, including one “substantiated” report of sexual assault and 29 “substantiated” reports of sexual harassment.

There have also been reports of abuse at projects run by Woodside Petroleum, Fortescue Metals Group, and Chevron Corp.

Mining Industry
📷 representative image of mining industry in australia

Among the allegations of sexual harassment and abuse revealed in the report were:

  • A woman involved in a safety issue was told by a supervisor she could “make the issue go away” if she had sex with him.
  • Another was knocked unconscious in her room and woke up undressed with her jeans around her ankles.
  • Another described how a man forced his hands down her top several times in front of other workers and “no one did anything.”
  • After complaining about colleagues making sexual jokes about her, a woman said her supervisor’s response was to “force himself on her.”
  • Sex dolls and toys placed in women’s sleeping quarters; women were victims of stalking, unsolicited texting, and provocative photo requests.
  • “Shoveling,” where iron ore was dumped inside the vehicles of women drivers who didn’t comply with sexual requests.

The report made 24 recommendations. It said industry regulators could adopt a “register of offenders” to monitor serial wrongdoers.

The Western Australian government should “consider establishing a forum to hear, document and acknowledge the experiences of victims of historical workplace sexual harassment,” the report said.

“Part of this process could include exploring opportunities for redress, such as formal apologies from companies and/or perpetrators and appropriate compensation.”


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