Circular Number 2022-26
Issue date: 26 September 2022
Application: All Victorian public sector employees

Model Policy for the Prevention of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Guide for the Prevention of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Enquiries: Integrity and Oversight branch
Victorian Public Sector Commission

Key points

  1. The Victorian Public Sector Commission (VPSC) is committed to ensuring that Victorian public sector workplaces are respectful and free from harm. Every employee has the right, and should have the expectation, of working in a safe, environment where they feel supported to speak up.
  2. Sexual harassment is unlawful and prohibited. Sexual harassment in the workplace can take various forms and can be directed at all people. It can be physical, spoken or written. Unwelcome conduct does not need to be repeated; a one-off incident can be sexual harassment.
  3. The VPSC has updated the Model Policy and Guide for the Prevention of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace (the Guide) to continue to promote consistent practice across the Victorian Public Service (VPS) and sector and help organisations prevent sexual harassment and support those who are harmed by such behaviour.

Update summary

  1. Updates to the Model Policy and Guide include:
    1. Updating legislative and industrial references to reflect changes to the Victorian Public Service Enterprise Bargaining Agreement 2020 and the introduction of the Gender Equality Act 2020.
    2. A new principle in the Model Policy acknowledging sexual harassment disproportionately affects some groups of workers and is often experienced with other forms of discrimination on the basis of disability, race, gender identity, sexual orientation, marital status and age.
    3. New sub-sections in the Model Policy on support and welfare, anonymous reporting and victimisation.
    4. Clarifying reporting options for persons who have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace.
    5. Use of consistent and more inclusive language including referring to ‘reports’ rather than ‘complaints’ of sexual harassment.
    6. Providing additional external support options.


  1. The Equal Opportunity Act 2010 requires organisations to take proactive steps to eliminate sexual harassment in the workplace.
  2. The Gender Equality Act 2020 also requires defined entities to promote gender equality.
  3. The Model Policy and Guide seek to support the VPS and sector to fulfil these positive duties.
  4. When updating policies and procedures, specific organisational requirements should be taken into account.


  1. The Victorian Secretaries Board (VSB) released statements in March 2018 and November 2019 affirming its commitment to preventing sexual harassment from happening in the first place, and to responding at the earliest possible point when these behaviours arise.
  2. The Model Policy and Guide was endorsed by VSB and first published by the VPSC in 2018.
  3. Further updates, endorsed by the Public Sector and Administration Committee, were made to the Guide in December 2020 to incorporate recommendations arising out of the Victorian Auditor-General’s Office report into sexual harassment in the VPS.


  1. The Model Policy and Guide apply to the VPS. VPS bodies are encouraged to revise their policy and procedures on sexual harassment in line with the Model Policy. The Guide assists organisations in implementing their sexual harassment policies.
  2. All Victorian public sector entities are encouraged to revise their policy and procedures on sexual harassment, ensuring these are informed by the Model Policy and Guide.

Date of application

26 September 2022