What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 1-7 November 2021

It’s Time for the AFL to Implement a No-Fault Stand-Down Policy

The Australian Football League (AFL) has been called to implement a policy that will automatically stand down players that have been accused of committing an act of violence against women. This conversation was sparked by the recent charging of Jordan de Goey in New York for forcibly touching a woman at a nightclub. He was jointly charged with assaulting her friend. The incident occurred a mere two months after a charge was withdrawn against him for indecent assault. The NRL implemented a stand-down policy as part of the response by Sports Integrity to sexual harassment allegations in the Matildas. The AFL has a respect and responsibility code that promotes “safe and inclusive environments for women across the AFL industry”. However, its effectiveness is under question. De Goey played each game in the 2021 season despite an ongoing sexual assault charge against him. The AFL is currently refusing to implement a stand-down policy.

Woman Sexually Harassed by High Court Justice Hits Out at the PM

Alex Eggerking has accused the Prime Minister of “prolonging the trauma” of the women sexually harassed by a former High Court Justice. Ms Eggerking was one of three women sexually harassed by Justice Dyson Heydon. Ms Eggerking said publicly that she has “gone above and beyond to provide the Commonwealth with evidence of the harm suffered because of the harassment.” The High Court previously conducted an independent investigation that found six former employees were harassed by Justice Heydon. The latest settlement conference was set for Wednesday 3 November. The conference was cancelled by the federal government due to uncertainty over the compensation package. Ms Eggerking has criticised the government for sending an unsupportive message to victims of workplace sexual harassment and prolonging her healing process.

British Waitress Wins High Court Discrimination Battle Over Australia’s ‘Backpacker Tax’

In Australia, foreign nationals are subjected to a 15 percent income tax when under the 417 and 462 visas. The High Court recently ruled in favour of an English backpacker who contended that she was discriminated against for paying a different tax rate to Australian residents. Her discrimination claim was made on the basis of nationality. The claimant, Catherine Addy, earned $26,576 in early 2017 as a waitress in Sydney. Ms Addy told the Court that the ‘backpacker tax’ undermined the “double tax” agreement between Britain and Australia. The Court reasoned that the tax made Ms Addy worse off. The Australian Taxation Office has responded, saying it is “currently considering the High Court’s decision” and is to “provide further guidance as soon as possible”.

New Reports Chart History of Disability in Australia

On 2 November 2021, the Royal Commission released two new reports detailing the historic experiences of people with disabilities in Australia. The reports provide insight into the systemic factors that place people with disability at an increased risk of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation. The report jointly recognises the efforts of disability advocates to raise issues related to people with disability and mainstream these topics into political conversations.

Australian Building and Construction Commissioner v CoreStaff WA Pty Ltd & Anor

The Federal Court of Australia recently ordered CoreStaff Pty Ltd to pay pecuniary penalties for breaching its obligations under the Fair Work Act. The company was found to discriminate against a prospective employee by denying employment on the basis of his (old) age. The applicant was 70 years old. The company had been advised and encouraged to discriminate against the applicant by Gumala Enterprises Pty Ltd. The Court acknowledged that this was an isolated incident at CoreStaff. CoreStaff was ordered to pay $20,000 in pecuniary penalties and Gumala was ordered to pay $9000.