Tips for media reporting on sexual harassment, including in workplaces

1. Understand what sexual harassment is
In simple terms, sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct of a sexual
nature that makes someone feel offended, humiliated and/or intimidated.
It can involve:
• Unwelcome touching or kissing
• Staring or leering
• Suggestive jokes or comments
• Repeated invitations to go out on dates
• Requests for sex
• Insults based on your sex
• Intrusive questions about someone’s private life or body
• Sharing sexually explicit emails, SMS messages or images
• A hostile work environment or workplace culture where
someone feels uncomfortable or excluded based on sex,
including the display of sexually explicit materials,
general sexual banter, or comments that diminish the
role of women in the workplace

2. Get legal advice
• Get legal advice as early as possible – for yourself, your organisation,
and your sources**
• Know the risks associated in publishing content which might be viewed
as defamatory or in contempt of court and know how they are treated
in your state
• Check to see if your legal team can protect your source if a defamation
suit is brought in relation to your reporting
• Defamation law in Australia puts the burden of proof on the defendant.
Defamation cases may also undermine future legal proceedings for the survivor.


This tip sheet was developed by Our Watch in consultation with
representatives of the media, survivor advocates and organisations
working to address sexual harassment and assault, including in
workplaces. Additional acknowledgement goes to experts who
provided quotes and the extensive contribution of journalist
and survivor advocate Nina Funnell.






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