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Creating a Safe Workplace: Understanding the Model Code of Practice on Sexual and Gender-based Harassment

Code of Practice Sexual and gender-based harassment

The Model Code of Practice on Sexual and Gender-based Harassment is a resource developed by Safe Work Australia (released in December 2023) to help workplaces prevent and respond to this type of harmful behaviour. Here's a summary of its key points:


  • Applies to all workplaces in Australia under Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws.

  • Addresses both sexual harassment (unwelcome sexual advances, requests, or conduct) and gender-based harassment (unwelcome conduct based on someone's gender, sex, or sexuality).

  • Recognises these behaviors can create a risk of harm at work, even if they don't meet specific legal definitions.

Key principles:

  • Primary duty of care: Employers must ensure workers' health and safety, including freedom from harassment.

  • Elimination or minimisation of risk: Employers must actively identify and control risks of sexual and gender-based harassment.

  • Consultation and communication: Workers should be involved in developing and implementing policies and procedures.

  • Reporting and investigation: Clear processes for reporting and investigating incidents should be established.

  • Confidentiality and support: Respect for privacy and appropriate support for those affected are crucial.


  • Provides definitions of key terms and examples of harassing behavior.

  • Outlines steps for managing the risk of harassment, including:

  • Risk assessment and control measures.

  • Policy development and training.

  • Monitoring and review of existing practices.

  • Offers guidance on handling complaints and investigations.

  • Includes resources for further information and support.

Additional notes:

  • The Code emphasises prevention through a proactive approach.

  • It aligns with the model Code of Practice on Managing psychosocial hazards at work, recognising the connection between these issues.

  • While not legally binding, it provides practical guidance for complying with WHS obligations.

Further information can be found here:

Comcare guidelines for workers, managers, and supervisors:


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