Publication Details

P. McDonald & M. G. Flood 2012, 'Encourage. Support. Act! Bystander Approaches to Sexual Harassment in the Workplace', Human Rights Commission, Australia.


Workplace sexual harassment is a persistent and pervasive problem in Australia and elsewhere, demanding new and creative responses. One promising area which may inform prevention and response strategies is bystander approaches. In broad terms, bystander approaches focus on the ways in which individuals who are not the targets of the conduct can intervene in violence, harassment or other anti-social behaviour in order to prevent and reduce harm to others.40 Although bystander approaches have a long history in relation to intervening in emergencies, they have recently been translated to efforts to engage men and boys in the prevention of sexual violence. Indeed, such strategies are now a common element in contemporary violence prevention education, such as on American university campuses and there is a growing body of scholarship evaluating their effectiveness. Recently, bystander approaches have also been incorporated into initiatives by the Commission to empower young people to take safe steps to respond to cyberbullying41 and by the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation to prevent and respond to race discrimination.42 Bystander approaches may be useful in extending efforts to eradicate workplace sexual harassment and in the process, to raise awareness of the problem and change a culture of tolerance towards sexual harassment in organisational settings.

Link to publisher version (URL)

Australian Human Rights Commission