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

How to Manage Workplace Harassment
Mary Hoang, Head Psychologist at the Indigo Project, has said that the best advice for working women is to ‘be clear to yourself on what your boundaries are – what you’re comfortable putting up with, and what you’re not’. Hoang, who counsels victims of workplace harassment, said that she encourages her clients to ‘practice communicating assertively – so that they can speak firmly and clearly about their needs and concerns’. In the three-step method devised by Hoang, victims first need to determine whether the conduct is unwelcome. Hoang said that this oftentimes comes down to gut instinct. Secondly, Hoang recommends that victims call out the behaviour by directly asking the perpetrator why they are engaging in the misconduct. Thirdly, Hoang said that victims need to report the behaviour – either to the organisation’s internal human resources department, senior management or an external body if possible.

Prime Minister Committed to Religious Discrimination Act
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has signalled his commitment to introducing a Religious Discrimination Act before the year’s end. Though the coalition campaigned strongly on this issue, the proposal gained momentum following Rugby Australia’s controversial sacking of Israel Folau. In an interview on ABC’s 7:30 program last week, Prime Minister Morrison said that ‘religious freedom is a core pillar of our society. And it’s not unreasonable. And I think there are many millions of Australians who would like to see that protected, and I intend to follow through on that commitment’. The proposed enactment would have the effect of providing broader protections for people of faith within employment contexts. New South Wales Senator, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, has been a vocal proponent of the law. Senator Fierravanti-Wells said that positive protection over religious freedoms is necessary because it would allow ‘people to object to participating in activities that contravene their beliefs without losing their job’. While such legislation may have protected Israel Folau following his homophobic Instagram post, there’s no indication that Morrison government’s stance receives widespread support. As Senator Fierravanti-Wells noted, there are MP’s and Senator’s on either side of the political aisle ‘who prefer to advance LGBT rights over those of religious people to proclaim their faith’.

How to Care for Staff Post the Departure of a Toxic Leader
Dr Jason Mazanov, author of the recent ‘Ethical Responses in the Aftermath of a Toxic Leader’ paper, argued that organisations are neglecting to care for employees in the aftermath of toxic leadership. In his paper, Dr Mazanov claimed that organisational responses to a toxic leadership usually end at the removal stage. In other words, while toxic leaders are being removed, the crucial follow up and care period for employees are absent. Dr Mazanov said that doing nothing in the post-care period, which appears to be the norm, is simply not an appropriate response. In calling for structural change, Mazanov implored organisations to establish policies and procedures that zero-in on employees wellbeing in the aftermath of destructive leadership.

Major Cultural Reforms for Australian Navy – Post Investigations Over Initiation Ceremonies
Defence Minister, Linda Reynolds, has vowed to stamp out inappropriate behaviour within the defence force following serious allegations of hazing and sexual harassment. This week, the Royal Australian Navy confirmed that it was going ahead with major cultural reforms after a series of internal investigations ignited concerns over initiation ceremonies. The internal review findings included allegations of ‘gargoyling’, where Navy recruits are encouraged to urinate into their own mouths, and ‘running the gauntlet’ where recruits are forced to streak naked. The main finding from the internal review was that institution’s dysfunctionality came down to poor training and lack of enforced standards. In response to the damning review, Senator Reynolds said that ‘inappropriate behaviour of any kind is not tolerated in the Australian Defence Force and I am committed to ensuring cultural reform remains an ongoing activity’. ‘Australians are right to expect those keeping them safe adhere to a certain behavioural standard, and I have confidence the ongoing reform work will ensure this is met by all parts of the ADF,’ she added.