What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 17 April 2023 – 23 April 2023

Basketball Australia Rules Transgender Athlete Unable to Play

Basketball Australia has informed a transgender athlete, Lexi Rodgers, that she is ineligible to play basketball at the elite level this season. Rodgers had attempted to play for the Kilsyth Cobras, a semi-professional league that is below the professional NBL and WBNL teams. Rogers’ case was decided by an expert panel led by Dr Peter Harcourt, as well as Assoc Prof Diana Robinson and Suzy Batkovic. According to the article, the eligibility of transgender athletes is assessed on a ’case by case’ basis, accounting for and balancing a range of factors. Basketball Australia stated that they are “still on a path of education and understanding”, explaining that “the balance of inclusivity, fairness and the competitive nature of sport will always be a complex area to navigate.” Further, while Basketball Australia acknowledged that Rogers’ application was not successful, it stated that it “promotes inclusivity at community level.” In response to the decision, Rogers posted on Instagram that she “sought a different outcome from Basketball Australia” and that she believes that there is still a place for her as an athlete in women’s basketball. Rogers further stated that she would still advocate for gender diverse inclusion and transgender athletes in sports.

Australian Institute of Sport Introduces Guidelines After Transgender Athlete Decision

The Australian Institute of Sport is set to introduce new guidelines for transgender athletes in elite sports, following the decision of Basketball Australia in the case of Lexi Rogers. Rogers’, as outlined above, was ruled against by an expert panel that she would be unable to play elite basketball for the Kilsyth Cobras. According to the article, Rogers case will be used as an example by the AIS as it develops “a new framework for the nation’s sporting codes to use when transgender athletes want to join elite competitions.” The guidelines will be implemented in upcoming months, with the purpose of aiding sporting codes to create policies in relation to transgender athletes in high-performance sport. The guidelines will not act as rules, with the sports able to determine their own decisions. Kieren Perkins, CEO of the Australian Sports Commission, stated it was encouraging that Basketball Australia “had taken the lead and engaged in a very specific assessment process for the individual athlete.” Each application has reportedly been assessed on a “case-by-case” process, however Basketball Australia has not disclosed the criteria as to how it reached its decision.

Inquiry into Bruce Lehrmann Trial Finds Tension Between Police and Prosecutors

An inquiry into Bruce Lehrmann’s trial has found that police and prosecutors were at odds with each other from the outset, including that the relationship was “beset by tension.” The ACT inquiry is investigating whether departments within the criminal justice system, such as the Director of Public Prosecutions (DDP) and Victims of Crime Commissioner, had appropriately fulfilled their responsibilities. Mr Lehrmann’s trial was abandoned in October of 2022 due to juror misconduct, with a second trial refused by the DPP over concerns for Ms Higgins’ welfare. The now abandoned trial involved allegations that Mr Lehrmann had raped Ms Higgins during her time as a staffer at Parliament House. Lehrmann, however, has always maintained his innocence. According to the article, the inquiry was initiated as a result of a letter sent from chief prosecutor Shane Drumgold to the chief police officer of the ACT. The letter claimed that Drumgold was urged by police to not charge Lehrmann. As well as the examination of “various points of conflict,” some of the questions to be raised in the inquiry include whether the definition ‘Victims of Crime Commissioner’ impacts on the presumption of innocence of an accused, as well as what principles “governed a ‘proper decision’ to charge an accused.”

Brittany Higgins and Her Fiancé Received Death Threats

David William Wonnocott is facing charges after he allegedly threatened Brittany Higgins, her fiancé David Sharaz and their dog over social media. According to the article, Wonnocott had utilised one of many social media accounts to message Sharaz and had threatened to kill both him and Ms Higgins, as well as their dog. Police had stated that Wonnocott was already under investigation in relation to threats of violence that had been messaged to partakers of a mass gathering. Wonnocott is facing charges of “using a carriage service to make a threat to kill and using a carriage service to menace, harass or offend.” He is set to appear before the Tweed Heads Local Court on 31 May and has been set with strict bail conditions. In a media statement, the NSW Police explained that “there is no current or impending threat to the community as a result of this operational activity.”

Anti-Discrimination Inquiry Granted Extension for Review of Religious Schools

The federal government has granted an extension for a review into religious exemptions for educational institutions. The Australian Law Reform Commission is currently reviewing the interaction of anti-discrimination laws in relation to religious schools. The report, which was due in April 2023, has been extended following a large number of submissions. The extension will provide the commission with greater time to consider the submissions and determine whether there is an exemption for “educational institutions in federal anti-discrimination law.” There have been calls for the inquiry to include faith-based organisations, not just in an educational context, including hospitals and charities. According to the article, spokesperson Sally Goldner stated that “discrimination in faith-based hospitals, welfare and employment services and charities was just as serious as in schools.” The report is now due before the end of the year.