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AUSTRALIAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION (WA)
A new campaign jointly prepared and funded by the Australian Medical Association (WA) and the WA Health Department will tackle the insidious and damaging practice of sexual harassment in medical workplaces.
The campaign, to begin immediately, follows a landmark survey of doctors by the AMA (WA) which found a worrying prevalence of sexual harassment in WA hospitals.
“There is no place for sexual harassment in any workplace, especially in WA medicine. This is a harmful, deep-rooted practice and it must be called out and stopped wherever and whenever it is seen or experienced,” AMA (WA) President Dr Omar Khorshid said today.
“Everyone has the right to feel safe at work and employers have an obligation to ensure their workforce is safe from sexual harassment,” Dr Khorshid said.
“It is time to focus a spotlight on the damaging issue of sexual harassment in the medical workplace and this campaign is the start of doing exactly that.”
“I am proud that the AMA (WA) has taken the lead on this issue. This is a subject and a practice that cannot be ignored any longer.”
“It might have been easy to ignore reports of sexual harassment in the medical workplace. Instead, we decided to confront it and the first step was to measure it.
The response to the survey was the biggest response to any AMA (WA) survey conducted to date, with more than 950 medical practitioners and medical students responding in just a few days.
This survey of doctors showed 31 per cent had experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, while a very high 44 per cent of female respondents said they had experienced the practice.”
“The AMA (WA) survey made for extremely uncomfortable reading and it demonstrated that there was a very real problem and it needed to be acted on,” Dr Khorshid said.
The survey was followed by the formation of a joint taskforce with representatives from both the WA Health Department and the AMA.
The Taskforce recommended the next step, a campaign to ensure everyone was aware of the issue, their rights, their obligations and to recommend actions for anyone who suffers sexual harassment.
This is a two pronged approach, both through the placement of confronting A3 sized posters around WA hospitals and the launch of a website, SH-OUT, or Sexual Harassment OUT.
The posters are aimed at increasing awareness and communicating to all employees that sexual harassment will not be tolerated.
“Sexual harassment is against the law but for too long it has either been tolerated, or the practice has been swept under the carpet,” Dr Khorshid said.
The website, SH-OUT.com.au offers details on the definition of sexual harassment, how to recognise it, how to fight it as a fellow employee and, if necessary, how to report it.
The website will carry a detailed guide on how to deal with and report any sexual harassment depending on the hospital.
Dr Khorshid called on other professions to follow the path set by the AMA (WA).
He also congratulated the Government for its willingness to be involved with the campaign.
“This campaign will be all the more powerful with the involvement of the State Government, the Health Department and the Health Minister, the Hon. Roger Cook,” he said.
Dr Khorshid said the AMA (WA) was determined to ensure that all workplaces had copies of the posters to put up and that everyone knew about the SH-OUT website.
The AMA (WA) will continue to meet with WA Health Boards to ensure the campaign is rolled out over the next few months and that all staff know of the website.