Women’s Health in the South East (WHISE) is leading a groundbreaking initiative, as a new large-scale project funded by the Victorian Government, to combat workplace gendered violence.
Supported by WorkSafe Victoria’s WorkWell Respect Fund, the project, named "Training for Respect," aims to establish a sustainable infrastructure for Victoria's adult education and training sector to address and prevent workplace gendered violence including sexual harassment.
Training for Respect is a collaborative effort between Women’s Health in the South East (WHISE), Women’s Health Goulburn North East (WHGNE), Women’s Health East (WHE), The Men’s Project (an initiative of Jesuit Social Services), the Victorian TAFE Association (VTA), and the Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA). Together, these organisations will build the capacity and capability of the sector, fostering confidence in preventing gender-based violence and sexual harassment within workplaces and learning environments.
Kit McMahon, CEO of WHISE, stated, "We are absolutely delighted to be supported by WorkSafe’s WorkWell Respect Program for this major project, and, proud of the partnerships that we are establishing to deliver outcomes for Victorian Registered Training Organisations (RTOs).”
The project will build upon existing frameworks, such as the Our Watch Respect and Equality in TAFE framework and the Gender Equality Act.
According to the 4th National Survey on Sexual Harassment, nearly half of all incidents in the last five years occurred in four industry groups, including education and training. The 5th National Survey further highlights the education and training sector's significant role, representing almost half of all reported incidents across Australia.
“Our project will introduce tools and strategies to promote a positive workplace culture and wellbeing, focusing on preventing sexual harassment and gender-based violence," McMahon explained.
The program will offer self-paced modules covering the prevalence of workplace gendered violence, psychosocial risks, and obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004. It emphasises an intersectional approach to address gender inequity and lower the risk of gender-based violence.
Recognising the vital role of leaders, the project will enhance leadership skills to foster positive workplace cultures, reducing inequity, psychosocial risks, and other factors contributing to gender-based violence.
A health promotion campaign, developed in collaboration with the industry and incorporating insights from those with lived experience, will combat resistance to the topic. The campaign aims to promote respect and wellbeing in educational settings, emphasising the consequences of inappropriate behaviours.
“RTOs play a vital role in our community, our society, and our economy," McMahon emphasised.
"Addressing workplace gendered violence is a crucial way to increase wellbeing in our community and the productivity of our economy, especially at a time when we still face significant skill shortages."
Quotes from Partners
“Working with our educators is a crucial part of embedding the key messages addressing gendered violence in our workplaces. WHGNE are really pleased to be part of this crucial work that has significant reach out into the workforces of tomorrow.”
Amanda Kelly, CEO, Women’s Health Goulburn North East
“Women's Health East is delighted to partner with industry leaders on a crucial initiative to prevent sexual harassment in the training sector. This project will drive cultural change by implementing leadership engagement strategies, policy development, and workplace training and capacity building to foster environments that are respectful, inclusive, and free from gendered violence.”
Elly Taylor, Chief Executive Officer of Women’s Health East.
“If we are going to address the barriers to economic inclusion, then a key part of that is to ensure that our training and education sites are free from workplace gendered violence. WHISE is delighted to be a part of this experienced and values-based partnership that will address the drivers of workplace gendered violence and set up what will be a sustainable infrastructure for this work in partnership with industry for longer term change.”
Kit McMahon, CEO, Women’s Health in the South East
“We are delighted to be partnering with women’s health organisations on this important work. We know from our soon-to-be released Man Box research that the young men who hold the most rigid attitudes towards gender roles are 35 times more likely to perpetrate sexual harassment than the men with the least rigid attitudes. Addressing harmful masculine gender stereotypes is a critical element of reducing all types of violence, including workplace sexual harassment.”
Matt Tyler, Executive Director – Community and Systems Impact, Jesuit Social Services
About the Partnership
Women’s Health in the South East (Lead Agency)
For over 30 years, Women’s Health in the South East (WHISE) has been the regional women’s health promotion, advocacy and support service for the 10 Local Government Area covering Southern Metropolitan Region of Melbourne. WHISE is a not-for-profit organisation that focuses on empowering women. We work to improve the health and wellbeing of women in our region by providing health information and education to governments, organisations, education providers, and community groups. Our team of health promotion professionals work to promote gender equality, sexual and reproductive health and prevent of violence against women.
Women’s Health East
Women's Health East is the regional women’s health services for Melbourne’s eastern region. Women's Health East, with 30 years of experience, collaborates at local, state, and national levels to address gender-based violence in workplaces and communities. They are leaders on intersectional gender equality in their region, and have strong capability in project management, impact management, and building the capability and capacity of workers, leaders and community to advance gender equality. Women’s Health East has strong expertise in leading projects that amplify the voices of women with lived experience by centering their expertise in initiatives to prevent violence against women. Their work extends to promoting women’s health and wellbeing in partnership with various organisations and individuals.
The Men’s Project – Jesuit Social Services
Jesuit Social Services has worked with men and boys for 45 years. Their experience has shown them that many are struggling, causing harm to self and others. The Men’s Project, An initiative of Jesuit Social Services supports men and boys to live respectful, accountable and fulfilling lives free from violence and other harmful behaviours.
The Men’s Project has delivered primary prevention programs which seek to address the underlying of causes of gendered violence in a range of TAFE and educational settings. They have also delivered gendered violence prevention capability-building programs to hundreds of educators in Victoria.
Women’s Health Goulburn North East
Based in regional Victoria, Women’s Health Goulburn North East (WHGNE) covers 12 local government areas across Goulburn Valley and the north east of the State. WHGNE is a feminist organisation, leading change towards women’s empowerment, women’s health, the prevention of violence against women and ultimately, gender equality, in rural and regional Victoria. WHGNE makes their expertise accessible to our communities through highly-regarded research, resources and toolkits, which we encourage you to read and use in your workplace organisation.
WHGNE also work with community groups, organisations and workplaces to develop and deliver information and practical tools, consultations, coaching, training, workshops and facilitated conversations.
 Australian Human Rights Commission, Everyone’s Business: Fourth National Survey on Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces 2018
 Australian Human Rights Commission Time for respect: Fifth national survey on sexual harassment in Australian workplaces 2022
WHISE is a leading health promotion and primary prevention organisation dedicated to improving women's health and wellbeing in the Southern Metropolitan Region of Melbourne. WHISE forms part of a network of Women’s Health Services across Victoria. Working in partnership with various stakeholders, WHISE advocates for gender equity, conducts research, delivers health promotion initiatives, and provides capacity-sharing support to enhance the delivery of women's health services. For more information, visit www.whise.org.au
Communications Lead, Women's Health in the South East
M: 0412 317 334