The Goldfields’ largest newspaper says reform in the mining industry is needed after a 23-year-old journalist was allegedly groped after this year’s Diggers and Dealers Mining Forum.
- The Diggers and Dealers Mining Forum was held in Kalgoorlie-Boulder last week
- Amber Lilley says the mining industry must do more to stop sexual harassment
- John Bowler says the Diggers and Dealers forum has been unfairly targeted
Kalgoorlie Miner deputy editor Amber Lilley made the allegations on the front page of Tuesday’s newspaper in the wake of last week’s showcase mining event.
Ms Lilley alleges she was groped and sexually propositioned in a crowded bar after a conference event which left her “shocked and disgusted” and “feeling vulnerable”.
“A man in mining told me he had a ‘rager’ over me,” she said.
“He then proceeded to tell me to, ‘Call him daddy’, before groping me as I walked away through the crowd, and he followed.”
The Kalgoorlie Miner, owned by the West Australian, which also ran an editorial titled ‘Diggers is done unless it cleans up its act’, has lodged a complaint with the man’s company and West Australian Police.
Not an isolated incident
The incident came after the June release of a scathing report into sexual assault and harassment within WA’s fly-in, fly-out mining industry, which found women had been subjected to “an appalling range of behaviours”.
Ms Lilley said the groping was not the only instance of inappropriate behaviour she experienced while covering the event, with comments on her appearance and gender also made by event goers while at a bar.
“Those comments included how great I looked in my outfit, how maybe I could do skimpy bar work, how grateful women should be for their current standing in the industry, and how there aren’t many female industry leaders,” she said.
Kalgoorlie-Boulder mayor John Bowler called the article an unjust criticism of the conference.
“Diggers is getting an unwarranted bad rap because of one poor joke by one poor comedian and one sexist comment by one stupid delegate,” he said.
Mr Bowler said he applauded Ms Lilley for calling out the man who made the sexist remarks at a bar but said the connection to Diggers and Dealers was “ridiculous”.
“The organisers cannot do any more to distance the event from the skimpy barmaid image and they cannot be made responsible for any drunken behaviour late at night,” he said.
“What about the other 2,599 delegates and more importantly, what about the women who own and run the forum, who were justifiably proud after last week, but must now feel devastated at what seems like a smear campaign that will only end when Diggers moves out of Kalgoorlie.”
Speaking on ABC radio, Ms Lilley said her experience did not apply to the conference itself, but was instead a reflection of the behaviour she witnessed while covering all aspects of the forum.
“My observations and experience do not apply to the conference itself,” she said.
“Diggers and Dealers in the daytime was an upstanding display of professionalism.
“Outside of the conference and away from the main event, when conference-goers let their guards down, things were often very different.”
West Australian Chamber of Minerals and Energy chief executive Rob Carruthers said more needed to be done to eliminate sexual assault in the industry.
“This type of behaviour has no place in any part of society, including extensions of the work environment,” Mr Carruthers said.
He said the chamber and its member companies condemned the behaviour in the strongest terms.
“We again reiterate our commitment to ensuring it is not only eliminated from the workplace, but from all work-related environments,” he said.
“As an industry, we must do better, by continuing to educate our people about what is and isn’t appropriate and by clearly calling out behaviour when it doesn’t meet the required standards.”
Ms Lilley said industry leaders had the “right attitude” and a “willingness” to stamp out sexual assault in the mining industry, but said “it would never be enough until zero women were sexually harassed”.
The organisers of Diggers and Dealers have been contacted for comment.
Posted , updated
Source : ABC News (AU)