Thank you to Jenny’s Place General Manager Marcia Chapman for acknowledging how hard it is to talk about personal experiences of sexual harassment.
I acknowledge the incredible courage of those that have spoken so publicly, Brittany Higgins. Grace Tame, Rachelle Miller and now many others.
Talking about events that made me feel shame, powerlessness and fear is not something I wanted to do. It is one of the things I have least ever wanted to do. It’s not the front I normally put to the world. It is one of the hardest things I have ever been through.
I spoke because I want change and that meant more than the fear, anxiety and distress.
A tsunami of disclosures are now occurring – a universal, heartbreaking howl of female pain, long, loud, traumatised and not stopping anytime soon.
And as the days and weeks go on the situation is not easing, it is intensifying. Exacerbated by beyond inadequate leadership at the highest levels and a severe lack of empathy and care for survivors.
The issue is known and defined. The Government commissioned Respect@work report from Kate Jenkins dropped in March 2020. July 2020 Kate made it clear that sexual assault and harassment is prevalent, occurring across all industries and sectors. A systemic issue, with gender inequality at its heart.
If you are not hearing disclosures right now, then I am asking why not? Because I am hearing them from nearly EVERY woman who speaks to me. And those not disclosing are mostly telling me “I am not ready to talk”. NOT saying something does not mean nothing has happened. Nor should anyone ever be pressured to speak.
Leaders – are people really talking to you? Are you really listening? Do you really know if your organisation is preventing and responding to this issue? Do you know the size of this issue for your business? The events and non-stop coverage are triggering. It’s quite possible that a lot of your people right now are exhausted, upset or worse. Have you checked in?
I want leaders to know that sexual harassment and assault happens to most women. I want those leaders to do something. Take action. Show care. Put steps in to prevent and respond effectively.
If you are a leader, of a team, an organisation, any group, and you are doing nothing, or denying there is an issue, or waiting for it to go away – that is not good enough.
My desire for change, burning deep and white hot is not going away. I am far from alone. Those that joined march4justice rallies, the journalists leading the way on telling the stories, the women coming forward, the allies supporting us. We are connected, determined, inexorable. #enoughisenough
I will quote the extraordinary 2021 Australian of the year Grace Tame.
“We are on the precipice of a revolution whose call to action needs to be heard loud and clear. That’s right, you got it. Let’s keep making noise Australia” – March 3, 2021
And leaders – you can decide which side of history you want to be on.