What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 11-17 October 2021

Sony Music Fires Chief Executive, Denis Handlin, After Allegations Of Bullying, Discrimination and Misconduct

Four Corners released an exposé on Sony Music Australia and revealed its workplace history of bullying, gender discrimination and misconduct. Over 100 current and former employees have spoken out on bullying, discrimination and misconduct experienced during their employment at Sony Music. The focus person is former chief executive, Denis Handlin who has been an influential figure in the Australian music scene throughout the 1990s and 2000s. In addition to being the first head of Sony Music Australia, Handlin served as the Chairman of the ARIA board and was an Officer of the Order of Australia. Handlin was praised for his contributions to Australian music, including his support of gender equality. The recent allegations have led to his roles as chief executive of Sony Music and chairman of the ARIA board coming to an abrupt end in June 2021.
Allegations span back to the 1990’s when a report was written which outlined specific examples of Handlin’s management style, including “common, everyday occurrences” of daily abuse, mad rages of screaming and bullying, destroying people purposely for power, humiliation of staff in meetings, being unable to see women as equals, and intimidation. Handlin was suspended while the report was being assessed. Yet, the outcome was that Handlin was reinstated as chief executive after 3 months. Lockhart specifically details that Lockhart would order for female staff to be fired for “not smiling at him”, disliking someone’s physical look, and “for being pregnant”. Four Corners identified at least seven women who had been made redundant by Sony Music while on maternity leave over a six-month period.

Matilda’s Respond in Support of Lisa De Vanna, After She Speaks Out on Harassment

The current Matildas playing team has released a statement in response to allegations made by Lisa De Vanna. Last week, De Vanna revealed that since the age of 17 she had experienced ongoing abuse and bullying while playing professional women’s soccer. The Matildas have expressed support of their former teammate, empathising with her for not feeling able to come forward earlier. The statement emphasised that Football Australia, the PFA and Sport Integrity Australia will work with the Matildas to ensure “all current and future players feel comfortable, safe and able to report instances of inappropriate behaviour, in a timely manner.” However, many players have also stepped forward to defend the inclusive culture of the team. Following the allegations, Football Australia announced that it will establish an independent framework to assess and manage complaints of misconduct. The chief executive of Football Australia, James Johnson, has addressed the allegations, stating that the organisation will implement any recommendations that come from the independent investigations.

Major Banks Are Prejudiced Towards Businesses in The Adult Industry

The ABC recently reported on multiple business owners being denied loans from major banks. These business owners all had one thing in common – they worked in the alternative industry of adult entertainment. One couple bought an adult shop in 2018. Since, then they have struggled to secure business accounts, payment facilities and even personal and car loans. The couple have turned to smaller banks for financial assistance after being told by an ANZ employee that “it’s most likely because of the industry that you’re trying to finance” that loan requests have been denied. NAB is the only major Australian bank that is transparent in its decision to refuse services to particular industries. Commonwealth Bank Australia claims to address applications for services on a discretionary, case-by-case basis. However, many associations linked to sex work, the adult industry and even gun shops allege that, practically speaking, members are regularly discriminated against in the financial sector. This trend is not isolated to Australian banks. Sex Work Law Reform Victoria is calling for the Banking Code of Practice to be reformed to better protect small businesses in the industry.