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‘We don’t dob’: One in four Qantas staff sexually harassed

Qantas A380 taxis at Sydney Airport prior to the 100 Year Gala Event on October 31, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

One in four Qantas cabin crew have experienced sexual harassment in the last year, but only 3 per cent have reported it, a Qantas review has found. 

The review came after a Transport Workers Union (TWU) survey in 2018 found that 65 per cent of cabin crew workers across various airlines had experienced sexual harassment, with 50 per cent experiencing it four times and 20 per cent experiencing it more than 10 times. 

Commenting on Qantas’ review, the TWU said Qantas and other airlines need to put sexual harassment and consent training in place, and also improve the reporting system to encourage more Qantas staff to come forward. 

“This review confirms that there is a major problem in the airline industry with sexual harassment. Too many workers are experiencing sexual harassment and they are being forced to deal with it in silence while their perpetrators take advantage of what the Qantas review identified as a ‘we don’t dob’ culture,” said TWU national secretary Michael Kaine.

“This is exactly the same kind of festering secrecy that allowed the worst predators in other industries to continue attacking women for decades. The airline industry must face up to this reality and address it.”

Kaine said staff need to be sure that their complaints will be dealt with in a “systematic and appropriate way”, and that sexual harassment is also never acceptable. 

“This is a moment in time for the airline industry to address the failings that the #MeToo movement has identified around the world. It is the industry’s chance to ensure that a new generation of cabin crew and pilots do not have to experience attacks in their workplace which have clearly been normalised to date,” he continued.

The TWU said cabin crew enterprise agreements need to contain a clause which demands training for staff on behaviour and consent, and which also saw passengers educated on acceptable behaviour. 

The Qantas review comes after Australia’s air traffic control centres were also blasted as having a “putrid” workplace culture. 

The August report from former Federal Court Judge Anthony North found that the culture was not only bad for employees but could even jeopardise Australian air safety. 

“There is a serious argument to be further investigated that the Airservices Australia workplace culture of bullying, discrimination and sexual harassment could endanger the safety of air navigation and as a result endanger the lives of air travellers,” North said.

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