What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 1 April 2019 – 7 April 2019

WA Law Society Recommendations in Relation to Workplace Sexual Harassment
The WA Law Society has published a submission paper to the Australian Human Rights Council’s National Inquiry into ‘Sexual Harassment within Australian Workplaces’. The paper proposed a number of reforms to the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth) (‘SDA’). One recommendation proposed that the term ‘employee’ within the SDA, be replaced with the term ‘worker’. This proposal was prompted over concerns that the current statutory framework fails to capture all forms of work – including volunteers, labour hire workers, contractors and secondees. The Law Society also recommended that the SDA be amended to outline employer’s duties with regard to workplace complaints. Currently, the SDA does not require employers to take active steps to address sexual harassment in the workplace. The Law Society argued that a clear statutory mechanism requiring employers to respond in a particular manner will bring consistency and uniformity to the handling of sexual harassment.

Further Allegations of Bullying Against Sydney Radio Host
New bullying allegations have emerged against one of Sydney’s top-rated radio hosts. The allegations against Ray Hadley surfaced after several former co-workers at radio station, 2GB, spoke out. Andrew Moore, now an ABC Broadcaster, described Hadley as having a ‘violent, furious temper’. Moore said that during a work experience stint at age 15, Mr Hadley ‘ripped the tape machine out and threw it against the wall as it smashed into a million pieces’. ‘That was all within the first five minutes of meeting him’, Mr Moore described. Another former colleague, Chris Bown, has come out to accuse Hadley of ‘16 years of intense bullying’. Hadley addressed these allegations on his show, telling 2GB listeners: ‘you would be hard pressed to find anyone who has not lost their cool in the workplace and those that claim they have not are liars’. Mr Hadley’s employer, Macquarie Media, has since appointed an external consultant to handle any current or historic bullying complaints against him.

New Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse and Neglect Against People with a Disability
Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, has announced a Royal Commission into ‘Violence, Abuse and Neglect Against People with Disability’. The Government has committed $527 million in the upcoming budget to the inquiry – which is set to investigate, among other things, abuse and discrimination against employees, volunteers and workers with disabilities.

Report About High Levels of Bullying within Health Care Complaints Commission
The Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) – the independent body tasked with resolving misconduct within the medical profession – has itself been exposed as a dysfunctional workplace. Recently, the healthcare watchdog came under criticism for its mounting delays, administrative mistakes and dysfunctionality. A recent report showed that the HCCC’s dysfunctionality can be attributed to “high levels of workplace bullying”. The report said that there was “extreme pressure” on workloads in the HCCC and that this left “staff feeling destroyed”. A whistle-blower said that the HCCC’s toxic environment triggered “an exodus of many senior staff members from the Commission”. The whistle-blower continued that “the turnover and exodus of half the [HCCC’s] staff has affected the timeliness of assessments, resolutions, investigations and communication with our stakeholders. A HCCC spokesperson told the ABC that though the high staff turnover was concerning, the HCCC believes that 17 newly funded positions will help alleviate the stress. The spokesperson also said that, in light of the concerns, major reforms are being instituted within the HCCC.