Workplace Violence Survey

The Australian Maritime Officers Union strongly believes that all workers, men and women, have the right to work in a workplace free of sexual, physical and abusive behaviour.

Approximately 15 years ago the AMOU, AIMPE, MUA and ASA launched a campaign against sexual harassment and bullying in the maritime industry, this was a highly successful campaign and assisted in addressing a number of issues at the time, specifically related to female seafarers.

However a recent incident within the merchant navy and the horrific findings of the DLA Piper review of the Australian Defence Force and its revelation of "serial sexual abuse of boys as young as 13, routine bullying, harassment and intimidation, more than a thousand cases and a culture of impunity that allowed it to continue for decades" has prompted the AMOU to assess the issue of workplace violence in our industry.

We are currently developing a confidential questionnaire to explore maritime workers experience of workplace violence. We have defined work place violence to include: verbal abuse, property damage or theft, intimidation, physical assault, sexual harassment, and sexual assault.

We are also concerned that incidents of workplace violence, similar to domestic violence are not typically reported to the police, instead the Human Resource department deals with the issue, resulting in an employee being terminated [or asked to resign] instead of criminal charges being laid. A seafarer may have committed a heinous act, been sacked and then reemployed the next day to reoffend. The abolition of Marine Council, a number of years ago has removed the ability of the industry to demand that the perpetrator address their behavioural problems or penalize them in any meaningful manner. Our survey will also address penal provisions.

We look forward to launching our "confidential" survey in the very near future.

Jan Thompson, Industrial Officer