On 17 November 2021, the Australian Human Rights Commission released its Spectator Racism Guidelines. The document was released to address racial abuse from sporting crowds. It is part of the broader effort to eliminate racism from sport and broader Australian culture. The creation of the Guidelines was backed by major Australian sporting organisations, including AFL, NRL, Cricket Australian and SCG. The Guidelines acknowledge the importance of sport in Australian society. The Guidelines aim to prompt best practice responses to spectator racism at a professional level by placing the responsibility on stopping the behaviour on the venue and sporting body and not the individual who is experiencing the behaviour. The Commission has developed a resource base to support the implementation of the Guideline recommendations. This is the most recent step in the Racism. It Stops With Me campaign. The release of the Guidelines coincided with Indian cricketers Mohammed Siraj and Jasprit Bumrah experiencing days of racial abuse during a test match in Sydney.
Tim Paine has stepped down from his role as Australian Test captain this week. This decision came after it was revealed that Paine had been investigated by Cricket Australian for a sexting incident. In 2017, Tim Paine sent a Cricket Tasmania employee an explicit photo and a number of lewd messages. This incident narrowly preceded the 2017/2018 Ashes series. The woman who received the messages was offended by the exchange as it was “unwelcome and unsolicited”. The outcome of the investigation found that Paine had not breached the Cricket Australia Code of Conduct. Paine will still be eligible for selection in the upcoming Ashes series. Cricket Australia’s chairman has publicly stated that Cricket Australia does not condone this type of language, despite the Board not finding Paine to be in breach of the Code of Conduct.
The inquiry into sexual harassment in the mining industry has revealed that WA Police investigated 23 allegations of sexual harassment in the past two years. Out of the 23 incidents that occurred on WA mine sites, only 2 of the complainants were men. Four of these allegations lead to criminal convictions, five are still pending, seven were withdrawn and the remaining were found to have insufficient evidence. Deputy Commissioner Blanch spoke out on how sexual harassment reports can be a “traumatic experience” for victims. The Deputy Commissioner said that the priority of the police is to hold perpetrators to account, encouraging victims to come forward. The inquiry also heard that 12 employees had been fired or removed from mine sites over the past five years. Each of these cases were connected to sexual harassment.
The debate on the balance between religious freedom and LGBT+ discrimination continues. This week, the federal government began public consultation on draft legislation. This included meetings with over 90 stakeholders. The final bill has not yet been published. The religious discrimination laws are expected to be brought to parliament next week.
This week, the NSW Public Service Commission released its annual People Matter employee survey. The findings reveal that reports of sexual harassment in NSW increased during the pandemic The reports have increased even though most people had working from home arrangements in lockdown. The survey questioned 400,000 employees between August and September. The findings suggest that four months of lockdown did not reduce the number of employees experiencing sexual harassment and bullying. Notable statistics from the survey include that 4% of public servants experienced sexual harassment, 7% of employees reported threats of physical harm, and 4% had experienced racism.
The Hospital Health Check Survey was released. Among the findings was the revelation that half of all trainee medics reported bullying or harassment at work. Around 1800 trainees were surveyed. The NSW Australian Medical Association conducted the survey between July and September. Bullying has been a consistent trend over the last five years. However, bullying did increase in 2021. Patients and families of patients were the most common source of oral or physical threats. Around 37% of junior doctors also felt intimidation at work, mainly from patients. The Australian Medical Association believes the increase was caused by heightened stress and pressure during the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19.
Tasmanian Liberal Senator, Claire Chandler, announced this week that she wishes to introduce a new bill that will allow legal exclusion of transgender people from sport. The proposed bill relates to private members, altering Australia’s anti-discrimination laws. Chandler claims this is to “restore the rights of women and girls in sport”. She uses the term ‘single-sex sport’ to campaign against trans women being included in women’s sporting teams. Chandler posted about the New Zealand weightlifter and Olympic medalist, Laurel Hubbard, to support her claim that female sports are “under threat if they allow trans athletes”.
Bruce Lehrmann was charged with raping Brittany Higgins, a former ministerial staffer, and is set to go to trial after the next federal election. The ACT Supreme Court tentatively set the trial for 6 June 2022. The trial is estimated to last four weeks. Ms Higgins made her allegations known in February and shone light on the mistreatment of women in politics.