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Respect@Work: Unpacking the new legislation for employers

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Over the last five years, Australia has seen a cultural reckoning. From the #metoo movement to the rise of women independents in this year’s federal election, the call for gender equality has only grown louder.

Amongst powerful rallies, petitions, and summits, one fundamental driver of the national conversation continues to be the Respect@Work: Sexual Harassment National Inquiry Report. The landmark report made 55 recommendations to prevent and address workplace sexual harassment across all workplaces.

Any week now, the latest Respect@Work Bill is expected to become law, putting the onus on employers to proactively prevent sexual harassment and create a safe workplace culture.

But what does this all really mean for organisations?

In this essential session, we help you understand the significance of the Report, the implications of the imminent legislation, and how your organisation can stay ahead of the curve in meeting its new obligations.

Future Women’s Head of Research and Insights, Ruby Leahy Gatfield will deliver a short presentation, before our distinguished panel of experts unpack the new legislation in conversation with gender equality advocate and Diversity and Inclusion Director, Tarang Chawla.


Padma Raman

CEO, Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS)

Ms Raman has a wealth of experience as a senior executive at both the state and federal level, and in 2018 was awarded the Public Service Medal for outstanding service leading significant cultural, technological and governance change. Before starting as CEO of ANROWS, she was the Chief Executive of the Australian Human Rights Commission for 11 years. Prior to that she established and was Chief Executive Officer of the Victorian Law Reform Commission for nine years.

During that time, Ms Raman was a member of the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission and was instrumental in assisting the Victorian Government develop and implement the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006.

Ms Raman sits on a number of boards including the Human Rights Law Center and the ANU Council.
She has a master of laws by research focusing on the experiences of immigrant and Indigenous women under the Australian legal system.

Prabha Nandagopal

Lawyer, consultant and expert adviser

Prabha is a leading human rights and discrimination lawyer with over 18 years’ experience across government, NGOs, United Nations, and private legal practice.

Prabha has conducted high profile inquiries and human rights investigations in senior roles at the Australian Human Rights Commission, including Director of Human Rights Law and Policy and Director of Business and Human Rights. In 2021, she was the Director of Legal for the Independent Review into Commonwealth Parliamentary Workplaces. In 2020, she was a senior legal advisor to the Respect@Work National Inquiry.

Prahba has since established her own consulting practice to support and strengthen the work of organisations committed to positive social change. She recently consulted on the National Music Industry Review into sexual harm, sexual harassment and systemic discrimination in the Australian contemporary music industry.

Dr Katie Spearritt

CEO, Diversity Partners

Dr Katie Spearritt is CEO and founder of Diversity Partners, a consulting firm specialising in guiding organisations to achieve more diverse and inclusive workplaces in Australia and New Zealand.

Over the past decade, Diversity Partners has worked with more than 500 organisations in the private and public sector. Diversity Partners was selected in 2020 as one of the approved Panellists by Victoria’s Commission for Gender Equality in the Public Sector and has since guided numerous Victorian government entities to develop their gender equality action plans and conduct gender impact assessments of internal processes and customer services.

Before establishing Diversity Partners in 2009, Katie was Head of Diversity for Hewlett Packard in Australia and Asia, Coles Group, and the National Australia Bank. Katie was also a board member of the Mental Health Council of Australia (2008-11).

Dr Karen O'Connell

Associate Professor, UTS Law

Dr O'Connell is an expert in discrimination law, particularly sex and disability discrimination, sexual harassment, and biotechnologies of the body, neuroscience and genetics. She is experienced in law reform, policy development and managing large research projects. 

Prior to joining UTS as a Chancellor's Postdoctoral Research Fellow she worked in human rights law and policy at the Australian Human Rights Commission.

In a number of senior roles, she worked on national inquires and major reports into pregnancy discrimination, immigration detention, paid maternity leave, family responsibilities discrimination and age discrimination. She co-wrote submissions on key human rights cases and law reforms and produced national guidelines on sexual harassment and pregnancy discrimination.Dr O'Connell completed her masters and doctoral degrees at Columbia University in New York.

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