WA creates safety program for FIFO workers

Hannah RyanAAP
BHP, Rio Tinto and Fortescue have acknowledged sexual assault and harassment remain under-reported.
Camera IconBHP, Rio Tinto and Fortescue have acknowledged sexual assault and harassment remain under-reported. Credit: AP

A new $1.9 million awareness program will address the "completely unacceptable" level of under-reporting of sexual assault and harassment in WA's mining and resources sector.

The Mental Awareness, Respect and Safety program is the WA government's latest move to address the crisis, exposed in a recent parliamentary inquiry.

The initiative aims to address mental health, workplace culture, drug and alcohol use, and mine safety issues.

The culture of WA's mining and resources workplaces have been under the spotlight this year after several women come forward to police detailing claims of assaults on major mining sites.

A parliamentary inquiry prompted by the revelations heard evidence of widespread sexual misconduct within the industry.

"The level of under-reporting of sexual assault and harassment in the mining and resources sector is completely unacceptable," said WA Women's Interests Minister Simone McGurk in a statement on Saturday.

"The McGowan government is acting to ensure workers - especially those working on mine sites - are safe and protected at work."

The first phase of the MARS program will get $1.9 million in government funding.

Resources giants BHP, Rio Tinto and Fortescue told the parliamentary inquiry they have investigated dozens of complaints at their sites but acknowledged there is still a problem with under-reporting.

BHP, for example, has sacked 48 fly-in, fly-out workers over the past two years for sexually harassing their colleagues.

A survey conducted by the West Australian Mineworkers Alliance found almost one in four women in WA mining have experienced sexual assault at work.

The WA Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety is working with companies that have revealed the non-disclosure of events in the inquiry to determine whether or not they should be prosecuted, the government says.

The department will manage the MARS program along with the Mental Health Commission, the Equal Opportunity Commission and the Women's Interests Minister.

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