Hot topic of conversation in Canberra

Monday 29 January 2018
Luke Keioskie's picture
The Shaker

A thought-provoking conversation on the hot topic of sexual harassment—with the informed views of a lawyer, leader and executive career coach—will be held in Canberra on Monday 12 February.

Sexual harassment—are you ready to act? will delve into what really must happen when a person reports unwanted or unwelcome sexual behaviour in the workplace. While most organisations should have sexual harassment policies in place, decision making around how to prevent sexual harassment or precisely how to respond remains a leadership action. The question is whether leaders are truly ready to act.

Presenters at the conversation are:

Sarah Avery, the head of the ACT Law Society, who has been practicing in Canberra for a decade. Sarah’s first-hand experience with several of the ACT’s most controversial laws and front-line experience with the ACT judicial system has informed her strong and valuable perspective on the topic of sexual harassment.

Belinda Greenwood, Commanding Officer of the Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Anzac, who has spent her Navy career moving between sea postings and key staff positions, has worked with the values and behaviours leaders must embody to create harassment free workplaces.

Dr Kim Vella, who has a PhD (Sociology) from the Australian National University and is now an executive coach accredited with the International Coach Federation, works with leaders on how to handle sexual harassment professionally or risk destroying their careers.

Even though sexual harassment has been illegal in Australia for 34 years, it remains a significant problem.

“It’s not sufficient to put a policy in place and wash your hands of it,” saidSarah. “What we need is supportive leaders with integrity of their own.”

Belinda agrees that a proactive approach is essential. “By the time a sexual harassment complaint is made it’s too late in some ways because someone is already ruined,” says Belinda. “Leaders must work on preventative preparation work and not just be reactive.”

Kim Vella, who runs Kim Vella Coaching, was inspired to organise the event because she regularly works with leaders who need to make decisions daily. Kim believes leaders know how to inform themselves with policy but ultimately need strong soft skills to make the best possible decisions.

“Leaders need to still take leadership action and need to be prepared as individuals,” Kim said. 

“Their organisation can’t do that for them. And it’s never acceptable to claim banter or humour as a defence.”

Sexual harassment—are you ready? will be held on Monday 12 February, 6pm to 7.30pm, at East Hotel. Ticket info here.