In 2022 we launched the Tasmanian Public Sector Women’s Survey to allow women to speak their mind and share the reality of their lived experience working our public sector. Today we’re sharing the results of this year’s survey, and calling for an urgent review of the State Service’s complaints process by the Rockliff Government.
There’s lots to celebrate – but also some glaring problems that need to be addressed.
What we learned:
- 54.6% of respondents told us they have dependents and 42.6% have caring responsibilities.
- 30.4% have lost income due to their caring responsibilities (e.g., reducing their hours – the reality for most women).
- 36.6% are the sole income earners in their family (down from 42.2%).
- 35.4% regularly work above their contracted hours without compensation.
- We also learned that almost half of women who responded, 44.6%, said they were actively considering a job change. Not surprising in this job market, but still significantly higher than the 35% national average seen in a recent nationwide survey by Ceridian.
Women’s experience of physical and psychosocial health and safety are more concerning still:
- 28.4% of respondents told us they do not feel emotionally safe at work.
- 10.3% said they do not feel physically safe at work.
- 17.4% have experienced receiving a threat of harm at work (+2.6% from last year’s survey).
- 68% have experienced at least one of the following unacceptable behaviours in the workplace: Bullying (+2.1%);
- Swearing or verbal aggression (+6.8%); Inappropriate comments or jokes of a sexual nature (+0.7%);
- Unwanted physical contact/disrespect for personal space (unchanged);
- Physical aggression (+4.7%); or,
- Discriminatory comments (down 7.8%, one positive outcome).
- 39% had experienced more than one of the above.
- 55.5% chose to report it, with varying responses in how this was handled. Unsurprisingly, most experiences were negative.
These worrying results reflect and reinforce the findings of the latest Tasmanian State Service Employee Survey. They found that 21% of respondents had experienced workplace bullying in just the last 12 months, but 61% didn’t report it. Their reasons?
- They didn’t think any action would be taken (56%).
- They thought it would affect their careers (38%).
- They felt their manager(s) accepted the behaviour (36%).
There is hope. 68.4% of respondents told us that they feel optimistic about the future for women in Tasmania’s State Service. We do too – because we know that every positive improvement we’ve achieved for women at work, we’ve achieved by taking action together. Women can move mountains.
We’ve all got a mountain to move: when half of those who experience unacceptable behaviour choose not to seek support because they fear reprisal or simply don’t believe any action will be taken, the system is broken.
We all deserve a complaints system that’s efficient, transparent and procedurally fair. One which ensures issues are dealt with quickly, and that those who have caused harm have an opportunity to learn, change, and be held to account.
Getting this right will support public sector workers’ physical and mental wellbeing, improve the health of our workplaces, and save money by reducing workers’ compensation and absences. A fair and strong complaint system is critical to the integrity of the public sector. If Centrelink workers’ complaints had been listened to and acted on, we would have prevented Robodebt. It’s time for change.
To fix the broken complaints system in our State Service, we need your help. Write in and tell us more about your experiences and help us identify the solutions needed.
Community & Public Sector Union (SPSFT)