What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 02 – 09 May 2021

CPSU Survey Finds Most Sexual Harassment in the Public Service Goes Unreported

A significant proportion of public servants have experienced or witnessed sexual harassment in their workplace, but most don’t report it, according to a new survey from their union. The Commonwealth and Public Sector Union survey found 16 per cent of respondents had experienced and 19 per cent have witnessed sexual harassment in their current workplace, and that more women than men had been affected. The CPSU is calling for an overhaul of education, training and procedures, and has developed a framework that it wants the Australian Public Service to adopt. The survey found 18 per cent of female respondents had experienced sexual harassment, compared to 11 per cent of male respondents. It also found that only one in three incidents of workplace sexual harassment are currently reported, and when they are reported, workplace responses are often perceived as being inadequate. Respondents who had experienced sexual harassment were asked why they had not reported it, with 32 per cent saying they didn’t trust their manager/agency to investigate or treat the matter impartially.

Qld Exploring Protections for Workers Subjected to Sexual Harassment

An upcoming review of Queensland’s industrial relations laws will consider stronger protections for people who have experienced workplace sexual harassment, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced on Monday. Palaszczuk said the review would include extensive consultation with unions and other stakeholders, and would “dovetail” with the state government’s response to the recommendations of the national Respect@Work report. “Our industrial protections must keep pace with the changing shape of work to ensure everyone gets a fair go. And as recent events have shown, sexual harassment and gender inequity in the workplace is a pressing issue that needs addressing,” she said. “Our review of the Industrial Relations Act will investigate industrial protections for workers subjected to harassment, including the independent Queensland Industrial Relations Commission having the power to make anti-sexual harassment orders.” Last month Palaszczuk revealed the state would appoint an equity officer to handle bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct complaints within the state’s public service, following reports regarding the prevalence of sexual harassment within the public service.

Why Stamping Out Sexual Harassment Starts at the Recruitment Process

Following alarming reports showing the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault in the legal profession, a workplace specialist says hiring managers need to look at the recruitment process first if there’s any hope to eliminate the crisis. According to Maureen Kyne of Maureen Kyne & Associates, the road to eliminating sexual harassment in the workplace begins with the recruiting process. “Employing staff with undesirable traits is more likely to wreak havoc and cause incidents in the workplace,” she said. “Sexual harassment is often about power and entitlement, and workplaces need to get better at identifying personality traits that may contribute to sexual harassment. As part of her push, Ms Kyne has outlined five ways she believes workplaces can change the way they hire employees to determine a better cultural fit: conduct risk assessments on potential recruits, better education and training of recruitment staff, more investigative recruitment techniques, conduct a culture check and fortnightly check-ins.

Gymnastics Australia Report Reveals ‘Significant Cultural Challenges’, Including Physical, Emotional and Sexual Abuse

An independent review into gymnastics in Australia says the sport has enabled a culture of physical, emotional and sexual abuse which many participants have described as “toxic”. The report, carried out by the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), made 12 recommendations around five key findings, most of which detailed negative experiences by young gymnasts, particularly at the elite level. Noting that the “athlete population in gymnastics is predominately young and female”, the report explored power imbalances between athletes and coaches, body-shaming and bullying, and a culture which it said helped “create an environment where abuse and mistreatment can thrive”. The report from the AHRC did not investigate any specific allegations of abuse or misconduct. In response, Gymnastics Australia said it “unreservedly apologises to all athletes and family members who have experienced any form of abuse participating in the sport”.

Brittany Higgins squares up to Morrison government in stark post

Brittany Higgins has squared up to the Morrison government in a Twitter post, saying the onus is now on Australia’s leaders to end a “culture of silence”. The former Liberal staffer said the Government needed to “show leadership and act” after she spoke with Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese and Deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek about “about the systemic issues in Parliament House”. Ms Higgins, who was allegedly raped in a minister’s office in 2019, thanked the women who had supported her and shared their expertise as she issued a call for action. She said that explaining how isolated she felt at times in the months and years after her alleged rape was the trigger for a brief moment of tears during the marathon meeting that was observed by senior government advisers and a representative from the solicitor-general’s office. Jessica Rudd, entrepreneur and daughter of former PM Kevin, was among the many Australians who thanked Ms Higgins for her tweet, with many praising her courage.

Investigations Launched After Complaint of Sexual Harassment Against South Australian Magistrate

Two investigations have been launched after a woman complained she was sexually harassed by a South Australian magistrate. The woman made the complaint in a survey conducted as part of a review into sexual harassment within the state’s legal profession. The Review of Harassment in the South Australian Legal Profession highlighted that about 42 per cent of respondents had experienced sexual or discriminatory harassment at work. “The investigation of that matter is now the responsibility of the Judicial Conduct Commissioner,” Chief Justice Kourakis said. “I am investigating why the matter was not brought to my attention soon after the events complained of. Whether or not the judicial officer against whom the complaint was made should continue to sit requires a consideration of the conduct involved.”

AusPost Pushes Holgate to Make Legal Demands Public

The board of Australia Post has increased pressure on former boss Christine Holgate, calling on her to make public a series of legal demands as she pursues mediation over her ousting as chief executive last year. Lawyers for the former Blackmores executive had given the government-owned corporation until 5pm on Wednesday to conduct mediation. Legal letters show the mediation will include Ms Holgate’s treatment by Australia Post, the circumstances of her departure, allegations of defamatory statements, breaches of duty of care and tortious interference with her employment contract.

Crowd Rallies Near Laming’s Qld Office

Signs and slogans demanding the sacking of a federal MP Andrew Laming were the order of the day in the embattled backbencher’s Queensland electorate on Saturday. About 150 protesters gathered at a rally in Cleveland, just metres away from the Member for Bowman’s office, ahead of Dr Laming’s return to Parliament next week. It will be Dr Laming’s first time in Parliament since the Prime Minister ordered him to take medical leave and undergo empathy training in March after he was accused of harassing two women online and taking a photo of a woman’s bottom with her underwear visible while she bent over. Scott Morrison has resisted calls to force Dr Laming to the crossbench, which would plunge the Coalition into minority government, saying he had already done “something quite significant” by announcing he would not seek re-election. Dr Laming said in a statement on Saturday the accusations made against him were politically-motivated and linked to the Australian Labor Party. He denied all allegations. Labor’s Senate Leader Penny Wong said she was “appalled” after speaking with some of the women who have made allegations against Dr Laming over his behaviour and online comments. Senator Wong told reporters Dr Laming had a history of persistent harassment of women and was shocked the Liberal National Party had condoned his behaviour for so long.