FEDERAL sex discrimination commissioner Kate Jenkins and Our Watch chief Patty Kinnersly will headline a decorated panel calling Ballarat business leaders to action next week.
Not In My Workplace, a organisation tackling sexism and gender inequality, will host a forum at Sovereign Hill building on the success of its first summit in Melbourne earlier this year and a Sydney forum on Tuesday.
UFS Dispensaries chief Lynne McLennan, who is also NIMW vice-president, said it was vital to bring such events to a regional location, like Ballarat, in a bid to reach more people in small and medium businesses to improve workplace culture.
"A lot of initial focus is on big corporations but there are a lot of issues in all business," Ms McLennan said.
"Not In My Workplace started with a group of CEOs and directors who wanted to know how can we be sure this is not going on in their organisation...It takes a lot more than policy, it's about making sure there is not that power imbalance."
It takes a lot more than policy, it's about making sure there is not that power imbalance.Lynne McLennan
Ms McLennan said particularly for young people entering a workplace, a culture with sexual discrimination could cloud their view on how the world works.
NIMW aims to guide the conversation and promote a chance to connect with others to help improve all workplaces. The summit will provide key insights and practical actions leaders can take to address the cultural and behavioural issues that contribute to sexual harassment at work.
Ms Jenkins will arrive in Ballarat fresh off the Sydney summit. Ms Kinnersly, who leads the national violence prevention body, proudly lives Ballarat as does human rights lawyer and fellow panelist Elizabeth Lacey.
Also in the line-up is Ballarat Police Superintendent Jenny Wilson, an outspoken champion against family violence and sexual discrimination in the workplace, Hepburn Shire chief Evan King and Sovereign Hill chief Sara Quon. Hepburn Shire and Sovereign Hill are member organisations to Women's Health Grampians' Communities of Respect and Equality program.
Ms McLennan said effects of sexual discrimination were a major health issue. This was why UFS was supporting the Ballarat event. Ms McLennan said mental and physical health effects from sexism and, at the extreme, family violence, were tied to equality in society.
About one in five Australian women report to have experienced sexual harassment in their workplace the past five year but 50 per cent of incidents go unreported, according to NIMW.
Not In My Workplace is at Sovereign Hill on December 4, from 3-6pm with networking opportunity to follow. Details: notinmyworkplace.org or via Commerce Ballarat.
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