The Northern Territory's small employment market and fear of being branded a troublemaker is causing some women to remain silent about workplace sexual harassment.
There's no data collected about sexual harassment in NT workplaces but it's well known that many women chose not to make formal complaints due to the consequences.
Often they wait until they've left the territory before they speak up, NT Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Sally Sievers says.
"It is tragic that women leave because of these experiences," Ms Sievers told AAP.
Nationally, more than 50 per cent of women have experienced offensive comments or inappropriate physical contact, including touching, hugging or kissing, according to a recent survey.
"We hear stories and receive complaints about all of these behaviours, including sexual assaults in the workplace," Ms Sievers said.
The situation can be "particularly difficult" for Indigenous Territorians who are often unable to leave the NT due to cultural and familial ties.
The Australian Human Rights Commission's most recent national survey on sexual harassment in Australian workplaces found only 17 per cent of workers make formal complaints to their employers.
"Workplaces are often not safe spaces to speak up because women fear repercussion and minimisation of their experiences," Ms Sievers said.
"Compounding this is that it can be hard to speak up when there is a lack of alternative employers."
The federal parliament is currently reviewing proposed amendments to the federal Sex Discrimination and Fair Work Bill.
Ms Sievers said the reforms don't go far enough.
"An important recommendation in the Respect@Work (Sexual Harassment National Inquiry) Report (2020) was the creation of a positive duty on employers in relation to sexual harassment," she said..
This would require employers to take steps to address the systemic aspects of sexual harassment, such as training.
But this hasn't been included in the new laws.
A proactive policy would better address cultural change, provide safer environments for women to speak up in and prevent harm, Ms Sievers said.
"There is an opportunity now to tackle this issue in the ways we know can be effective so we are not responding to another report in 35 years with the same or worse statistics," she said.
"Without a positive duty, tackling this we will still be dealing with this issue in generations to come."
Ms Sievers said the commission's knowledge about NT workplace harassment has been anecdotally collected by talking with employers and workers.
Australian Associated Press