What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 16 – 22 May 2022

Sexual Harassment Complaints Up By 25pc, Says Kate Jenkins

Sex discrimination commissioner, Kate Jenkins, has warned employers to “get their house in order” to address sexual harassment as employees return to work. Harassment complaints have risen to 25 per cent since the beginning of the pandemic. Kate Jenkins also said that the Australia Human Rights Commission will release its latest sexual harassment survey results in late 2022. Kate Jenkins is particularly concerned that the return to work Christmas parties will have consequences for sexual harassment. She is advising workplaces to prepare mechanisms and strategies to minimise sexual harassment.

ECU Department Boss Resigns After ‘Bullying And Intimidation’ Claims

A series of complaints have been made against executive dean of Edith Cowan University (ECU), Stephen Winn, for creating a “culture of bullying and fear”. A number of senior academics have left the School of Education because of bullying within the management team. It has been alleged that Professor Winn was the primary instigator. Dr Peter Prout was among the academics to resign as result of the bullying and seeing other staff being “ripped to shreds” by management. He had been employed at ECU for 20 years. There are also accusations that some academics have been made to work up to 1000 hours over their agreed workload. The National Tertiary Education Union is now involved, having filed a Fair Work complaint against ECU for poor treatment of staff, including intimidation and humiliation.

Adelaide Magistrate Accused of Sexual Harassment Loses Attempt to Have Investigation Quashed

Magistrate Simon Milazzo has denied allegations against him for sexual and other misconduct. Five women have made complaints that the magistrate sexually harassed them between 2012 and 2020. There are a total of eight complaints that are now the subject of an official inquiry. An investigation panel was appointed in June 2021 after Ann Vanstone QC made a recommendation to the attorney-general. This investigation into the conduct of Simon Milazzo is the first of its kind in South Australia.

Supermarket Giant Coles Announces Paid Gender Transition Leave

Coles has announced that trans and gender-diverse employees will now be entitled to 10 days of paid “gender affirmation” leave. Gender affirmation involves updating names, documents, pronouns, and physical presentation. The legal and safety chief has stated that it was time to create a specific policy for gender-diverse staff. Coles employs over 900 team members who identify as trans or gender diverse. Coles has been congratulated by senator Sue Lines for being at the forefront of introducing gender affirmation leave.

Fair Work Backs 10 Days’ Paid Domestic Violence Leave

On 16 May, a Fair Work Commission full bench gave its opinion that paid domestic violence leave should be included in 123 industry awards. The bench agreed that financial support is essential to help employees leave a violent relationship. Family violence can create substantial costs for employers. The Commission said that the leave will allow people experiencing domestic violence to have employment and financial security.

How Unions Are Building Queer-Friendly Workplaces

The 17 May was the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia. Australian Unions published a statement supporting gender affirmation leave. The National Tertiary Education Union is currently conducting a nationwide campaign to ensure all university staff have entitlements to paid gender affirmation leave. The statement also celebrated the Fair Work decision to introduce family and domestic violence leave.

Airports And Airlines On Notice After People With Disability Speak Out About Humiliating Treatment

Complaints are being made against airports for “dehumanising” treatment of people with disability. The conversation began after the former disability discrimination commissioner, Graeme Innes, spoke out on his recent experience at Adelaide Airport. He was refused access to use the body scanner and made to use a walk-through X-ray scanner. He was patted down despite not triggering the security alarm. Akii Ngo has since come forward about an incident where she was pushed too hard by Jetstar staff and fell out of her wheelchair. Jetstar has responded by saying that their staff training on wheelchair assistance is adequate.