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WorkWell Project: Breaking the Silence

Breaking the Silence logo next to illustration of HACSU union members, representing unity and advocacy.

About the project

Breaking The Silence is a pioneering initiative designed to confront the challenges of gender-based violence and sexual harassment within the disability and mental health sectors. Recognising the unique vulnerabilities faced by these workers, our project launches a pilot program with two leading employers in the disability and mental health fields.

This innovative program will provide specialised training to approximately 1,000 disability workers and 600 mental health workers. Our aim is to equip these professionals with best-practice responses to gendered violence and sexual harassment, enhancing their ability to create safer workplace environments.

To ensure that our training programs are deeply informed by those on the front lines, we have established an expert workforce steering committee. This committee, consisting of 6 mental health workers and 6 disability workers, plays a crucial role in shaping our initiatives, ensuring that feedback from actual workplace experiences drives the development of our training materials.

Moreover, all our training content and workplace policies undergo academic evaluation by the Australian National University's Global Institute of Women's Leadership and the University of Sydney. This academic scrutiny helps refine our approaches, ensuring they are grounded in the latest research and best practices.

Our findings and progress will be regularly shared with WorkSafe Victoria and the Sexual Harassment Learning Network. This collaboration aims to inform broader policy implementations and foster state and federal commitments to preventing workplace gendered violence and sexual harassment. Through the Breaking The Silence Project, we are dedicated to creating a safer, more respectful work environment for all.

Gendered violence awareness posters

Four posters about workplace gendered violence co-branded by HACSU and WorkSafe Victoria, targeted at disability and mental health workers.
Academic Partners
Logo for the Australian National University - The Global Institute for Women's Leadership
The Global Institute for Women’s Leadership (GIWL) will develop the academic framework for The Breaking The Silence Project, which focuses on tackling gender-based violence in healthcare settings. Led by Dr Gosia Mikolajczak, a Research Fellow at GIWL with a background in gender-related interventions and policies, the project will commence with an Initial literature review to identify gaps and best practices in current training methodologies.
Logo for University of Sydney (USyd)
The University of Sydney will provide academic support and advice for all the Project matters relating to reproductive health and well-being in an industrial setting. This will be conducted by the Professor of Gender and Employment Relations and Heard of the Discipline of Work and Organisational Studies at the University of Sydney, Marian Baird.
Training Partners
Logo for Women's Health Victoria
Logo for Phoenix Australia
Over the next 18 months, HACSU, in collaboration with Women’s Health Victoria and Phoenix Australia, will develop specialised training programs tailored for workers, employers, and government departments in the mental health and disability sectors. These programs aim to address and prevent gender-based violence and sexual assault in the workplace.