The company at the centre of an alleged sexual assault say they have a “zero-tolerance policy” towards such behaviour after a 23-year-old journalist was allegedly groped at a Goldfields mining event.
- The alleged incident took place at the Graduates Hall of the West Australian School of Mines
- The incident has been condemned by the mining sector and state politicians
- Diggers and Dealers Forum chair Jim Walker says they expect delegates to behave in a respectful manner
Kalgoorlie Miner deputy editor Amber Lilley alleged she was propositioned, groped, and followed after attending a Diggers and Dealers Mining Forum event last week.
Forum chairman Jim Walker said the organisation was disappointed to learn of the alleged incident that occurred at a sideline function during the week.
“Whilst the incident did not occur at a Diggers and Dealers event, the forum has a zero-tolerance policy towards such behaviour,” he said.
Mr Walker said there was an expectation that people who attended the forum, including sideline events, behaved in a “respectful and inclusive manner”.
“Our expectations of delegates’ behaviour also extended to unaffiliated events and private functions that take place around the city during this period,” he said.
The alleged incident took place at the Graduates Hall of the West Australian School of Mines, with school alumni hosting a networking event the same week as the conference.
A joint statement by the West Australian School of Mines Alumni and Curtin University said they were “extremely disappointed” by the behaviour of one of the attendees.
The statement said the organisations were working to address issues of sexism and misogyny and improve opportunities for women in the mining sector.
“We are absolutely committed to providing a safe and inclusive learning and work environment,” the statement read.
“We believe strongly in the value that education and awareness can play in change, and as part of that, we have recently appointed a director of equity and diversity in the WA School of Mines.”
Not an isolated incident
Kalgoorlie-Boulder Mayor John Bowler said the Diggers and Dealers Forum should not be made responsible for the actions of one man but conceded it was unlikely the incident was isolated.
“Sadly, we get idiots who get a few beers under their belt and misbehave, but to say it’s just in Kalgoorlie-Boulder or just at the Diggers and Dealers conference is unfair,” he said.
Mr Bowler said he was pleased the incident had been brought to light and would like to see the man in question banned from future forums.
“This person, I hope, won’t be allowed back to Diggers and Dealers, and anyone who behaves like him should be treated the same,” he said.
“They [Diggers and Dealers] have assured me that will be the case.”
The incident has been condemned by the mining sector and state politicians, including the premier Mark McGowan who said he was “disappointed” and urged the industry to “do the right thing”.
Greens resources spokesperson Senator Dorinda Cox said Ms Lilley’s allegations highlighted a continuing trend of harassment towards women in mining.
She said the industry’s action on harassment was lacking despite the June release of a scathing report into sexual assault and harassment within WA’s fly-in, fly-out mining industry.
“The WA mining sector has been called out in the report, and its recommendations are clear,” Senator Cox said.
“The ignorance and lip service is impalpable, and holding those in power to account isn’t even a blip on the radar, which continues to leave me deeply concerned.”
Latest assault an ‘opportunity’ for mining sector
The incident has been seen by advocates for women in mining as a new chance for the industry to step up and show action on stamping out harassment.
Former FIFO worker Becky Felstead works as a consultant to the resource sector on sexual harassment, workplace culture and assault and said the industry had an opportunity to target harassment at its core.
“I think the mining industry has an opportunity. We know that this is systemic, and we know that this is happening as a culture, not just in mining,” she said.
“But mining has an opportunity because they can be front runners, and they can be the innovators in making sure that they are creating active bystanders, that they are changing the culture. They are having these conversations.
“I think there are so many things that need to change.”