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Compensation for sexual assault at work: Recognition and institutional abuse payments

If you have been a victim of sexual assault at work, you deserve compensation for your loss of enjoyment in life and feeling unsafe or harassed in your workplace. No one should have to suffer this type of abuse, but sadly, thousands of Australians experience offences of a sexxual nature at work every year. At Gerard Malouf & Partners, we work to get you the compensation you’re entitled to.

According to the Australian Human Rights Comission, Employers have a responsibility to take steps to prevent sexual harassment in employment. If an employer fails to implement a sexual harassment policy and provide training or information on sexual harassment, leading to a failure to keep sexual harassment from occurring, they can be held liable for sexual offences leading to offended, humiliated or intimidated employees.

What compensation is available to victims of sexual abuse?

There are several different forms of compensation that can be sought if you have been a victim of sexual assault at work.

Sexual harassment claims

Sexual harassment claims can be brought against employers if someone has experienced sexual harrasment at work. You are entitled to a safe workplace, and this includes freedom from unwanted touching, suggestive comments, or propositions, especially if tied to your continued employment. You can take your claim to the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Workers’ compensation

Sexual harassment and assault can also be covered by workers’ compensation claims, if it can be shown that physical or psychological harm is preventing you from returning to work. Our team of expert workers’ compensation lawyers can help you make a claim and build your case for compensation based on loss of income while you recover form your sexual assault in the workplace. If you suffer permanent impairment, we can also pursue a lump sum payment.

Recognition payments

You can pursue a claim through Victim Services for a recognition payment, which is typically reserved for when other avenues of seeking compensation through a federal court have failed. These recognition payments are intended to help compensate victims who have few other forms of redress. If you cannot bring a claim for compensation in a federal court, or win no award, you can apply for compensation under this program.

Institutional abuse

If you were assaulted while in an institution, you may qualify for compensation as apart of the National Redress Scheme, which seeks to compensate victims of sexual abuse for institutionalsed persons, mostly children. You can apply for this payment even if it has been years since the incident(s) occurred. This covers both child sex abuse victiims and victims in aged care facilities or institutions for the mentally disabled.

How do you claim compensation for sexual assault?

The first thing to do is to report a sexual assault to the police, as there may be a criminal case as well in cases of assault or rape. The second thing to do is to call sexual assault lawyers, like the team at Gerard Malouf & Partners. We will compassionately and sensitively handle your civil case, while working hard to get you the maximum compensation you are due.

If the sexual assault happened at work or at the hands of a co-worker or employer, there may be several different claims which can be brought against different parties. Don’t hesitate to report. If you’re being sexually harassed or assaulted at work, it’s likely you’re not alone.

How can you bring a claim against your employer for sexual assault at work by a colleague?

A sexual assault that is a crime against your person should be immediately reported to authorities. You should also report to your employer, and the Australian Human Rights Commission. Then call our office and ask for help. No-one should be sexually assaulted at work or at a work function by a coworker.

We can help you bring a claim both against your assaulter and your employer if they allowed an environment where this could happen and didn’t take reasonable action to guarantee a safe workplace for you. Sexual assault can result in a personal injury claim with loss of income as well as pain and suffering plus aggravated damages.

What are legal avenues for redress for workplace sexual harassment?

The Australian Human Rights Commission notes that any of the following can be identified as sexual harassment in the workplace:

  • Insults or taunts based on sex
  • Intrusive questions about a person’s private life or body
  • Requests for sex
  • Sexually explicit emails or SMS text messages
  • Sexually explicit physical contact
  • Sexually explicit pictures or posters
  • Staring or leering
  • Suggestive comments or jokes
  • Threats against employment if the victim doesn’t agree to dates, sex or other contact
  • Unnecessary familiarity, such as deliberately brushing up against a person
  • Unwanted invitations to go out on dates
  • Unwelcome touching


If any of these apply, you can file a claim with the Commission. We can help you navigate the process and gather the information and proof you need to have your claim favorably received. You may qualify to seek compensation through Victim Services, ther National Redress Scheme, and/or a workers’ compensation claim.

What compensation can victims expect for a sexual abuse claim?

Depending on the type of claim, whether the abuse was a one-time incident or ongoing, what damages the victim may have suffered in regard to lost earnings, and the violence of any assault, sexual harassment and sexual assault claims can range in awards from $10,000 to nearly half a million, especially if vicimisation damages are added.

Richardson v. Oracle Corporation

A woman who was repeatedly sexually harassed at work by her employer eventually left her position and was forced to take a lower paying job. She was awarded $30,000 in economic loss, and $100,000 for reputational and psychological harm.

Hill v. Hughes

Another woman was the victim of ongoing sexual harassment by the perincipal of the law firm where she worked, which included threats of loss of employment if she didn’t make herself available sexually. The compensation claim for sexual harassment resulted in an award of $170,000 in total, including $50,000 in aggravated damages.

Yelda v. Sydney Water

After allowing herself to be photographed for a campaign for spine safety, she was mortified and couldn’t face co-workers after her image was posted near the men’s toilets with suggestive text that implied a sexual component. She was awarded $200,000 for her economic loss and pain and suffering.

The more proof there is of ongoing assaults or harassment and the higher the loss of income due to assault in a workplace, the higher the typical payout.

Recognition and institutional abuse payments

Other indirect payments include:

  • Recognition payments, ranging from $1,500 to $10,000
  • Institutional abuse payments, averaging $80,000 up to a maximum of $150,000

How to report sexual harassment?

You will need to make a complaint to the Commission under the Sex Discrimination Act as soon as possible, as time limits may apply in certain cases. Time limits may be as short as six months after the incident for workplace sexual harassment claims. Then seek legal advice to help you get the maximum compensation for your losses.

Victims of sexual assault in the workplace may be intimidated or fear loss of employment. Our legal service includes pursuing damages for loss of income due to being fired or unable to continue working at your place of employment.

We offer no-win, no-fee legal service for victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault in the workplace. Download our sexual abuse compensation guide and contact Gerard Malouf & Partners compensation lawyers today.


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About Us
Gerard Malouf & Partners have provided friendly, experienced legal advice to communities across Australia for over 35 years. Our Personal Injury Lawyers have taken on ten’s of thousands of cases and we are proud to have won billions of dollars for our clients.
Meet the diverse and dynamic team of compensation lawyers and supporting staff that have made this all happen below. Our multi-lingual team can discuss your claims in Arabic, Assyrian, Turkish, Greek, Italian, French, Serbian, Croatian, Armenian, Mandarin, Hindi, Punjabi or Malayalam.
Meet the diverse and dynamic team of compensation lawyers and supporting staff that have made this all happen below. Our multi-lingual team can discuss your claims in Arabic, Assyrian, Turkish, Greek, Italian, French, Serbian, Croatian, Armenian, Mandarin, Hindi, Punjabi or Malayalam.

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