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Stop bullying and sexual harassment applications

Workplace bullying occurs when:

an individual or group of individuals repeatedly behaved, or is behaving unreasonably towards you as a worker or towards you as part of a group of workers;

  • The behaviour occurred when you were at work;
  • Reasonable management action carried out in a reasonable manner is not bullying. For example, reasonable performance management or directing a worker to perform duties in keeping with their contract is not bullying.
  • the behaviour creates a risk to your safety or health; and
  • there is a risk you will continue to be bullied at work by the individual or group of individuals.

Sexual harassment occurs when:

  • an individual or group of individuals made an unwelcome sexual advance, or an unwelcome request for sexual favours, or engaged in other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature at your work. This includes:
    • publishing a statement of a sexual nature about you on the internet or any other form of communication, or
    • making a statement of a sexual nature about you to you, or in your presence, or in the presence of another person, whether by visual, oral, written, or electronic communication.
  • This happened in circumstances where a reasonable person would have anticipated the possibility you would be offended, humiliated or intimidated by the behaviour; and
  • There is a risk that you will continue to be sexually harassed at work by the individual or group of individuals.

You can make an application for both bullying and sexual harassment. The individual or group of individuals against whom you make an application do not need to work for the same employer/principle that employs or engages you.

You can make a stop bullying or sexual harassment application even if you have made a complaint to WorkSafe. 

Critical information

  • You can submit a stop bullying or sexual harassment application by filing a Form 14 – Application for an Order to Stop Bullying or Sexual Harassment (or Both).
  • There is no time limit to make an application.
  • The Commission can only make an order to stop bullying or sexual harassment if there is a risk that you will continue to be bullied or sexually harassed at work. The Commission cannot order compensation in bullying or sexual harassment matters. 

Please refer to the Commission's Fact Sheets for further guidance on proceedings at the Commission.


What to expect out of the process

  1. Step 1 - Determining eligibility

    Check if you are eligible to submit an application through the Commission. 

  2. Step 2 - Submitting an application

    If you believe that you are eligible, lodge a  Form 14 – Application for an Order to Stop Bullying or Sexual Harassment (or Both) with the Commission's Registry.

  3. Step 3 - Conciliation conference

    A conciliation conference is held in order to assist you and the respondent(s) to try and reach a mutually agreed resolution.

  4. Step 4 - Hearing

    If the parties do not reach an agreement at the conciliation conference, then a hearing is held where the Commission will make a binding decision on the matter.

Step-by-step guidance on the stop bullying or sexual harassment process

Who can make an application?

Employees in the public sector and employees employed by a local government authority can bring a make a Stop Bullying or Sexual Harassment Application.

Employees in the private sector can only make an application if their employer is not a National System Employer as defined in the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth). This generally means that you can make an application if you employer is unincorporated, or is not a trading corporation. For example, if your employer is a partnership, sole trader, or a corporation that does not substantially engage in trading or financial activities, you can make a Stop Bullying or Sexual Harassment application.

It is important that, when you fill in your claim form, you be clear and precise when naming your employer. You should try to provide your employer’s correct legal name. For private sector, you should also provide the business name,  A.B.N. or A.C.N.

To help you identify your employer, check your: 

  • written employment contract or agreement;
  • letter of appointment;
  • group certificate;
  • pay slip;
  • job advertisement; or
  • award or industrial agreement. 

How do I submit an application?

Who is my employer?

Your employer is not necessarily the director, owner or manager of the business. To identify your employer, one or more of the following may be helpful: 

  • group certificate;
  • pay slip;
  • letter of appointment;
  • job advertisement;
  • written employment contract or agreement; and 
  • performing a company or business name search.

You could also try to obtain company information from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) or the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety.  

What happens next?

After you have submitted your Form 17, the Commission’s Registry will:

  • check the form to make sure that it is complete and contains all the required information;
  • if the form is complete, send a copy of it to you for your records; and
  • serve a copy of it on the respondent(s).


The Commission’s Registry may call or email you after you submit your application to give you further information on the process, and to confirm you wish to go ahead with it. 

If the Form 14 is incomplete, it may cause delays.

The respondents have 7 days after receiving your claim to file a written response to it. The Commission will provide you with a copy of any response that is filed.

After the time for filing a response has passed, the application will be allocated to a Commissioner and listed for a conciliation conference.

What is a conciliation conference?

A conciliation conference is a conference conducted by a Commissioner who can help the parties to resolve their employment dispute. The purpose of the conciliation is to explore whether an agreement can be reached between the parties, not to decide who is right or wrong.

Conciliation conferences are private, confidential and are conducted on a 'without prejudice' basis. This means that what is discussed at a conciliation conference cannot be repeated outside the conciliation conference or used against a party later, except in some limited circumstances required by law. This allows the parties to explore possible settlement options without fear of the other side using any offers or concessions made at the conference as an admission to various aspects of a claim.

The conference is not recorded, and no transcript is produced. Any visual or audio recording is strictly prohibited.

Conciliation can occur over one or more conferences on one or more dates.

An agreement may be reached during or after the conference, the parties have control over the outcome before the matter reaches the hearing stage. In contrast, if the matter goes to hearing, the Commission will decide the outcome of the matter.

For more information please read the Commission’s conciliation conference fact sheet by clicking here.

For more information please see the Commission’s conciliation conference video by clicking here.

Possible outcomes of conciliation

  • Agreement may be reached during or after the conference. If the parties do reach an agreement, it is common to put the agreement in writing. Usually, the claim is then discontinued or withdrawn.
  • If agreement is not reached, the Commission may hold further conferences depending on the circumstances, or list the matter for hearing.

What is a hearing?

A hearing is where the Commission receives arguments and evidence from both parties and makes a binding decision on a matter. It usually takes place in a court room. There are two types of hearings: interlocutory or preliminary hearings and substantive hearings. 

Interlocutory or preliminary hearings 

There may be issues that have to be determined by the Commission before the merits or substance of an application can be dealt with. These preliminary (or interlocutory) hearings may relate to an issue with the employee’s claim that needs to be resolved before the rest of the matter can proceed, such as an application for discovery of documents or whether the Commission has jurisdiction to deal with the application;

There may be one or more interlocutory hearings before the substantive hearing to deal with preliminary or procedural issues. 

Directions hearings are similar to preliminary hearings and are designed to allow the parties and the Commission to work out:

  • what the issues are that the Commission will need to decide at a final hearing;
  • what steps can be taken to make sure those issues are decided in a fair and efficient way; and
  • when those steps will happen.

This can include setting out a timeline for when things should occur such as discovery, or when documents are to be filed with the Commission, such as outlines of submissions or witness statements. 

Substantive hearing

A substantive hearing is where the Commission hears and determines the substance or merits of the employment or industrial issues in dispute. This is where you or your representative can present evidence to support your application.

For more information, please read the Commission's hearing fact sheet by clicking here.

For information on evidence, please read the Commission's evidence fact sheet by clicking here.

For information on representation and representing yourself, please read the Commission's representation fact sheet by clicking here.

Possible outcomes of a hearing

The Commissioner who hears the evidence and arguments might make a decision about the claim:

  • at the hearing, after all evidence and arguments are presented; or
  • after the hearing, by “reserving” the decision.

If the Commissioner “reserves” the decision, this means the Commissioner needs time to review everything that has been presented and consider the issues before making any orders or giving a decision.   


If your claim is successful, the Commission can make any order it considers appropriate, other than compensation, to prevent future bullying or sexual harassment at work. The Commission cannot order monetary compensation in bullying or sexual harassment matters.

If your claim is unsuccessful, the Commission will usually dismiss the claim. 


The Commission’s orders are binding and enforceable. If anyone does not comply with the Commission’s orders, an enforcement application can be made to the Industrial Magistrates Court. That Court can make orders for penalties.