23/06/2022 - 11:58

Mine report calls for urgent action, slams regulator

23/06/2022 - 11:58

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An inquiry into sexual misconduct in the FIFO mining industry has called for urgent action, slamming the regulator and demanding better training, victim-centric reporting and a register for offenders.

Mine report calls for urgent action, slams regulator
Inquiry chair Libby Mettam. Photo: David Henry

A landmark probe into sexual misconduct in the state’s mining industry has called for urgent action, slamming the regulator and demanding better training, victim-centric reporting and a register for offenders.

The Community Development and Justice Standing Committee’s report was handed down in parliament this morning complete with 24 recommendations.

The report is a product of several days worth of hearings in which some of the state's most prominent mining bosses were grilled and more than 250 reported cases of sexual harassment and assault in the industry.

It found the system for reporting incidents needed to be bolstered, pointing to a sense of distrust and a lack of confidence in company management structures.

It recommended the industry explore and the government back the implementation of a register to prevent perpetrators from being reemployed in the industry.

The report also suggested a blanket industry-wide standard be introduced for accommodation facilities, CCTV, lighting and more moderate drinking standards.

Among the recommendations was a call for the state’s Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety to improve its data collection on incidents, slamming its poor level of knowledge of the issue.

It also highlighted the need for a more contemporary definition of sexual harassment in Workplace Health and Safety legislation laws, as well as better education and training across the industry.

In addition, the committee requested Minister for Mines Bill Johnston to establish an expert group to investigate sexual harrassment complaints alongside DMIRS, WorkSafe, mining companies and unions.

Committee chair and deputy Liberal leader Libby Mettam thanked the women who came forward to lift the lid on the issue.

She said she was appalled by the accounts and the depth of the problem, which was made difficult to ascertain due to the lack of accurate data.

“When we began this inquiry into sexual harassment in the mining and resources industries, I knew horrific stories would be told,” she said.

“But I was shocked and appalled, well beyond expectation, by the depth of the problem.

“This is a failure of the industry to protect its workers and raises questions about why the government was not across this issue.

"It is difficult to believe the regulator could have accepted this level of reporting as reflecting the true situation on the ground.

“Now, it is up to the mining industry and the government to address these recommendations and make the cultural system and legislative changes required."

The inquiry unearthed internal company data exposing the prevelance of sexual harrassment at some of the state’s biggest resources companies, inappropriate power dynamics and the toll of the victims’ experiences.

Already, the issues exposed by the inquiry have forced industry bodies and mining giants like BHP, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals Group to take the lead in addressing the issues.

Several mining companies and industry bodies have made sweeping changes, with alcohol limits and curfews imposed at several mining camps, as well as overhauling reporting systems.

Others have vowed to reconfigure their accommodation camps and improve lighting in a bid to provide better security for on-site staff.

The report’s delivery comes just days after the state government appointed PwC workplace culture expert Elizabeth Shaw to review DMIRS’s protocols.

The findings of that review are expected to be delivered later this year.

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