What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 16 – 22 October 2017

Bullying and Harassment Rife in Country Fire Authority
A leaked internal report has revealed the entrenched culture of bullying and harassment in the Country Fire Authority. The Interim Report on Gender Diversity and Inclusion surveyed around 550 professional, technical and administrative staff, with results indicating that around 50% of male and female respondents have been bullied and one third harassed. Respondents recounted that bullying and harassment were “rife” at “every level of staff and management”. Several women reported having been sexually assaulted and/or harassed, with some considering suicide and others becoming ill as a result. The report noted that the “sheer volume and content of qualitative data addressing… inappropriate conduct speaks to the seriousness of the issue”. It suggested that the United Firefighters’ Union, which exerts a large degree of power over the authority, was perpetuating this lack of “transparency or accountability”.

Australians’ Retirement Readiness is Heavily Skewed by Gender
A report compiled by actuarial institutes from Australia, Britain and the USA has shown Australia as having the largest gender pay gap in terms of retirement preparedness. The Retirement Readiness Report is based on a survey of the extent to which respondents felt prepared to meet the risks of life once they stopped working. The results suggest that this ‘readiness’ is biased according to sex. In Australia, 54% of men indicated they were prepared compared with only 32% of women, a difference of 22%. This comes in stark comparison to a 15% difference in the USA and a mere 7% difference in Britain. The report suggests that these differences may be due to a number of factors. In financial terms, women’s average super balance is much less than that of men. However, the report also suggests that perceptions may be overstating the difference. Men, for example, may feel that they should be taking on the responsibility of preparing for a household’s future financial stability, and so exaggerate their feeling of preparedness.

Age Discrimination Could Lead to ‘Pension Crisis’
According to the Regional Australia Institute, discrimination against older workers needs to be halted to prevent a pension crisis. Chief Executive, Jack Archer, noted that while there were many people in their 50s, 60s and 70s who would like to work, employers were not providing the training and incentives, or successfully stopping entrenched workplace discrimination. The report recommended increasing flexible work arrangements, such as part-time work, which appealed to older workers wanting to participate but for fewer hours.