Council staff are set to benefit after being selected to participate in a statewide audit of harassment policies.
Ararat City Council, along with Corangamite Shire Council, Frankston City Council, Latrobe City Council, and Moreland City Council, were recently selected for audit as part of the Sexual Harassment in Local Government review conducted by the auditor-general.
The review examined how Victoria councils are understanding, preventing, and responding to sexual harassment in their workplaces.
The five audited councils were selected to represent a range of council types and sizes. An additional survey that was sent to council's across the state received 9939 responses.
More than a quarter of survey respondents said they had experienced workplace harassment in the past year.
The audit's conclusions were largely damning of councils' efforts to eliminate sexual harassment, stating "Although councils have the tools that could prevent these experiences, they do not use them to their full advantage."
However, in the report, Ararat Rural City Council was frequently noted to be taking the recommended actions to eliminate sexual harassment.
Ararat Rural City Council were the only one of the five audited councils to include harassment from customers or members of the public in its sexual harassment policies and complaint procedures; to allow anonymous complaints; to include online interactions in its sexual harassment policy; along with Corangamite Shire Council was the only one to have sexual harassment policies that exclusively apply to councillors.
Ararat Rural City Council was also noted for its proactivity, having published a new sexual harassment policy in August to comply with the audit's model policy.
The five councils were allowed to respond to the conclusions of the audit.
Ararat Rural City Council chief executive officer Dr Tim Harrison said in his response council was dedicated to removing sexual harassment from the workplace.
"Council is committed to being a leader of change and recognises that by embedding a zero tolerance to sexual harassment within our organisation, we can also influence change across the community," he said.
"Council will continue to focus on ensuring that the actions identified in relation to the prevention of sexual harassment both internally and externally are regularly reviewed and implemented."
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