What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 15 – 21 January 2018

Fire and Emergency Services Fails to Defend Staff from Union Bullying
Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) staff says that senior management did not protect it from the United Firefighters Union’s (UFU) bullying. The department’s director of occupational health and safety claims to have been “humiliated” when a UFU official contradicted her at a forum before senior managers and officers. Lea Anderson, the union’s state secretary and subject of the allegation, denied having gone too far, labelling the director’s concerns an “example of a massive overreaction to criticism”. However, workplace complaints and injury management staff say that they too were “belittled” and “denigrated” by the UFU. Following the release of the UFU’s February circular, the entire workplace complaints and injury management unit sought stress leave. While one member of staff said she felt “powerless” to provide a safe workplace given the union’s “ongoing and personal attacks”, another criticised the response of the department itself as being “appalling”. In response, the DFES Commissioner, Darren Klemm, has hired a KPMG consultant to spearhead a program of cultural reform.

Gender Pay Gap Persists Albeit at Lowest Level
Results of the 2017 Graduate Outcomes Survey suggest that the gender pay gap has fallen to its lowest level in 40 years. Despite this, female undergraduates still earn less than their male counterparts in every field excepting engineering and communications. To illustrate the persistent disparity, the median full-time salary for male dentists was $94,600 while for women it was $75,100. Lisa Annese, the CEO of Diversity Council Australia, was frustrated by the results, given that women are broadly attaining higher levels of education than men. According to Ms Annese, it is insufficient to encourage women to pursue “traditionally male-dominated fields because… when a profession becomes dominated by women, the pay in that profession decreases”. Instead, she suggested that increasing transparency across all industries would contribute more to resolving structural inequalities.