What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 17 June 2019 – 23 June 2019

Good Intentions in Diversity Haven’t Resulted in Less Discrimination
Boston Consulting Group (BCG) recently published its ‘When Good Intentions Aren’t Enough: Diversity and Inclusion Report’. Staggeringly, the report found that more than 30% of employees with children experience discrimination. 41% of women with children and 39% of men with children reported having experienced discrimination in their workplace by virtue of their parental status. These figures soared above the rates of discrimination reported by their childless counterparts. Speaking at Report’s launch event, BCG Senior Partner and Managing Director, Anna Green, said that existing diversity and inclusion programs within the surveyed companies were not effective. Qantas, whose employees compromised many of the 1,600 respondents, has come out in support of the report. Executive, Lesley Grant, said that while there is a lot of ‘great work being done’ at the airline company, ‘we certainly want to do better’. Despite progress, Grant stressed that the company has a long way to go.

Actors Treated Better Now than 7 years Ago
Despite recent allegations against Geoffrey Rush, the acting industry within Australia has been lauded for its zero-tolerance stance toward harassment and bullying. Ian Maxwell, the University of Sydney professor who led Australia’s first study into the wellbeing of actor’s – has commended the industry on its progress. Maxwell’s study, first published in 2012, surveyed 782 professionals within the acting and theatrical space. In its findings, the report saw rife levels of anxiety, stress and depression, alongside high rates of reported workplace bullying and harassment. The report showed that life as an Australian actor in 2012 was ‘punctuated by sometimes petty and sometimes acute experiences of abuse’. In re-examining the results seven years later, Maxwell said he believes that many of the incidents in the report would no longer be met with the same tolerance and acquiescence. As Zoe Angus, a representative from Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA), said: ‘attitudes around harassment and bullying have shifted, and none more so than those in the acting profession’. Helen Dallimore, the female headline in the State Theatre of South Australia’s upcoming ‘End of the Rainbow’ production, also believes that the acting industry has progressed in strides. Dallimore noted a dramatic cultural shift over the course of her 20-year career within the profession. ‘We are told what is and isn’t acceptable in terms of behaviour’, she said. ‘Of course, it takes time to break down an archaic system so it’s still baby steps, but it sends a message that people are no longer going to put up with what happened in the past’ she added.

International Laws on the Elimination of Violence and Harassment at Work Created
A world first Convention on the Elimination of Violence and Harassment at Work has been resoundingly adopted by the International Labour Organisation in Geneva. Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) representatives worked alongside key stakeholders from around the world on the Convention. The CEVHW marks a world first attempt to set international standards on the prevention and elimination of violence and harassment at work. ACTU President, Michele O’Neil, has called on the Morrison Government to ratify and implement the Convention pursuant to the Commonwealth’s external affairs power under s 51(xxix) of the Constitution. Until ratified, adherence to the convention remains a voluntary obligation upon nation states. In calling Scott Morrison to take action, Ms O’Neil said that ‘we urgently need stronger powers for the Fair Work Commission’. ‘This must include establishing a gender equality panel in the FWC that would have the power to hear and determine sexual harassment and sex discrimination claims’, she added.