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One in five Australian surgeons yet to complete sexual harassment training

About one-fifth of the nation's surgeons have failed to complete a mandatory course designed to stamp out sexual harassment and bullying in their profession.

Almost half of all surgeons in Australia reported they had experienced workplace discrimination, bullying or sexual harassment in a 2015 report.

The independent report was commissioned after senior vascular surgeon Gabrielle McMullin said speaking out about harassment could ruin a young surgeon's career.

The deadline for the online module was in December, but the president of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, Dr John Batten, said he was still waiting on a number of surgeons to complete the task.

"We have achieved an 80 per cent compliance with that, which is a very high figure for people who understand and manage bullying harassment in the workplace," Dr Batten said.

"This whole program is to help recognise this problem in workplaces or bullying or harassment, and we would hope they would see the opportunity to try and upskill themselves in this area.

"But we have had a lot of feedback that the workplace is changing and it's a lot more respectful, which is the basis of the campaign."

Deadline to be extended for remaining surgeons

Dr Batten said RACS would be extending the deadline to capture the 20 per cent who have not yet completed it.

"The aim is not to punish people, but to try and make sure people try and understand the need and opportunity they have to try and keep up with the change in culture that is occurring," he said.

"[We want to make sure they know] that we are trying to change in the workplace and be much more respectful to everyone in the workplace."

Dr Batten said the recent #MeToo campaign that highlighted sexual harassment and abuse of women across different industries might have been inspired by the medical field's public stance against bad behaviour.

"I don't think the #MeToo campaign has affected out campaign. Our campaign might have empowered many other workplaces to start this type of change and appreciation of what is acceptable."

An online training tool to stop sexual harassment in the surgical theatre was suggested in 2015 by Professor Merrilyn Walton.

In a report for the Medical Journal of Australia, Professor Walton said were many stories of abuse and sexual harassment of junior doctors by senior surgeons.

The report also found there was a culture of avoiding complaints to supervisors about inappropriate treatment or behaviour.

Original Article

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