What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 14 December 2020 – 20 December 2020

McLachlan’s Criminal Charges Dropped Due to Issue of Consent

Melbourne magistrate Belinda Wallington has dismissed all 13 charges of indecent assault against Australian actor Craig McLachlan. The 55-year-old was charged with seven counts of indecent assault and six of common law assault against four female co-stars. While magistrate Belinda Wallington made it known that the four complainants ‘were brave and honest witnesses,’ her Honour dropped the charges. One charge involved an accusation that McLachlan tickled a co-star’s thigh from behind as she performed. While the magistrate accepted the woman’s evidence, she could not exclude the possibility that an ‘egotistical self-entitled sense of humour led the accused to genuinely think that (the woman) was consenting to his actions.’

Uni of Adelaide Survey Shows High Rate of Workplace Bullying

The Independent Commissioner Against Corruption (ICAC) ‘University Integrity Survey’ has revealed that bullying is ‘the norm’ at the University of Adelaide. The survey of 1,364 examined the ‘attitudes and experiences’ of Adelaide University employees. The survey showed that 31.6 per cent of respondents experienced bullying and harassment at work and 62.7 per cent encountered those behaviours in the past three years. Only 36.9 per cent of respondents felt confident that their employer would take action when they reported corruption or inappropriate conduct and 39.5 per cent believed the university prioritised maintaining its reputation over addressing complaints. Nearly 50 per cent of respondents were uncertain or agreed that the university discouraged reporting. One respondent wrote that there was a ‘general atmosphere of veiled terror’ at the University, where managers ‘actively bullied and excluded staff who disagreed with them, to the point that some staff were forced into early retirement.’ This week, the University’s interim Vice-Chancellor Professor Mike Brooks notified staff that while the survey findings made for ‘uncomfortable and challenging reading,’ he was ‘firmly committed to improving the integrity and accountability’ of the 140-year institution.

31% Employees Have Experienced Workplace Discrimination

A survey of 1900 employees has revealed that nearly one in three Australian’s (31%) have faced workplace discrimination. The survey, conducted by global HR firm ADP, found that 11% of Australia’s working population reported encountering age discrimination in particular. Ageism in the workplace is ‘prejudice against employees under the pretence that their age makes them less capable than others in handling specific tasks.’ Eddie Megas, managing director at ADP, said that while age discrimination ‘certainly isn’t unique to Australia, I am sure many will be surprised at just how common an experience it is.’ ‘One in ten workers say they’ve faced age discrimination in their current position,’ he explained. Megas notes that age discrimination affects younger and older employees alike. While 38.5% of workers between 18 and 24 have been stereotyped and discriminated against for their age, 21% of workers 55+ have experienced the same.

Females Employed in ICT Likely to be Discriminated Against and Sexually Harassed

The ICT Professionals Employment and Remuneration Report 2021 has found that more needs to be done to address gender diversity, discrimination and sexual harassment in the Information and Communication Technology sector. Professionals Australia CEO Jill McCabe said the report demonstrates that ‘more needs to be done to attract, retain and support women working in the ICT sector.’ The report found that the proportion of women employed in ICT remains low, with women comprising only 28% of ICT employees. This falls short of other professional industries, where women represent, on average, 45% of the workforce. ‘While 76% of survey respondents said that their organisation had policies in place to deal with discrimination, these policies were clearly not working — with 56% of women reporting they had experienced discrimination on the basis of gender over the past three years, compared to just 2.8% of men. Most concerningly, over 20% of women reported experiencing sexual harassment,’ said McCabe.

Findings Published in Relation to Bullying by NSW Police Commander

The NSW Law Enforcement Conduct Commission has published its findings on the NSW Police Commander, known only as ‘BKJ’, who was found to have engaged in serious misconduct. The Commander’s conduct included bullying, behaving aggressively, and demanding a senior constable provide evidence of his childhood sexual assault before granting him leave to attend a residential treatment program. Under the Commander’s tenure from 2014 to 2019, 15 subordinates left the local area command, including some on medical leave. The report found that BKJ’s behaviour not only forced experienced officers out of the force but had great financial and reputational costs to NSW Police. It also highlighted systemic failures with how NSW Police deals with complaints of bullying, harassment and discrimination.

50% Townsville Hospital Employees Witnessed Bullying or Sexual Harassment

Fifty per cent of the staff surveyed at the Townsville Hospital and Health Service reported witnessing bullying or sexual harassment in the last year.

Netball Australia Director Suing for Discrimination

Former director of Netball Australia, Cheryl McCormack, claims the sport’s national body breached anti-discrimination by forcing her to take leave, cutting her off from board correspondence and removing her as director. McCormack also accused the board of ‘intimidatory’ behaviour, resulting in post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression. Netball Australia denies the claims against it. In its defence lodged with the Federal court, Netball Australia says it only learnt of Ms McCormack’s post-traumatic and depressive disorders once she sued it and its directors were unaware of her claimed disability when they directed her to take leave.

25% Of Qld Public Sector Employees Experienced Bullying

A new survey of nearly 18,000 Queensland public sector workers reveals that a quarter have experienced bullying or harassment in the workplace.