Sexual harassment is a type of bullying. It includes things like:

  • Unwanted touching
  • Making comments or jokes of a sexual nature
  • Showing or sending pornographic pictures
  • Emails, texts or other messages with sexual content
  • Repeated requests for dates
  • Questions or comments about a person's sexual activity.

These behaviours are considered sexual harassment if they make the other person feel scared or upset and it’s reasonable for them to feel that way. It doesn’t matter whether the behaviour was meant as harassment or whether it was meant as a compliment or as a joke.

Sexual harassment is unlawful in the following circumstances:

  • A trader to a customer and vice versa e.g. a restaurant patron must not sexually harass the staff.
  • A professional to client, and vice versa e.g. a doctor must not sexually harass a patient.
  • A landlord to a tenant, and vice versa.
  • A club committee member to a club member or prospective member.
  • A member of a body that confers a qualification (like a school, TAFE or university), to a person applying for the qualification (a student).

If you experience sexual harassment in any of these situations, contact us for advice. If you are sexually assaulted, you can also report the offence to the police.

Sexual harassment of clients by a professional (such as a health professional or a lawyer) can also be dealt with by professional bodies such as the Medical Board or the Lawyers Conduct Board. These boards can discipline the professional, including restricting their right to practice.