Sex discrimination commissioner Kate Jenkins’, during her keynote address at the ‘Not In My Workplace’ Summit, said that gender inequality at the managerial level is a key driver of sexual harassmentgender inequality at the managerial level is a key driver of sexual harassmentgender inequality at the managerial level is a key driver of sexual harassment. Ms Jenkins argued that sexual harassment will continue where there is a lack of female leadership at the top of an organisation and its complaints processes. ‘The reality is that men still, by and large, hold the majority of the leadership positions, they’re still predominant in managerial roles and the reality is that men are more likely to question a complaint of sexual harassment than a female manager,’ Ms Jenkins said. Australian Human Rights Council (AHRC) research, which is due for release next February, found that female managers are more likely to take a complaint without question and male managers will place the onus on the victim. The research also found 51 per cent of women reported having experienced or witnessed sexual harassment. ‘Sexual harassment is repeated and ongoing. The statistics tell us that 49 per cent of people who have been harassed have been harassed more than one time. Thirty per cent have been harassed for at least over a two-year period,’ Ms Jenkins said in her speech. ‘The majority of people, despite all these systems and contact officers and HR, will go directly to their manager or supervisor,’ Ms Jenkins said. This is where, as Ms Jenkins believes, it’s important for females to assume higher managerial roles. But even if a report is taken, the AHRC research found that complaint systems are still not focused on the welfare of all staff. Instead, the research suggests that complaint processes tend to ‘sideline’ victims while investigations take place and that there is significant room for improvement.
Last week, Rugby Australia and former player Israel Folau reached an out-of-court settlement. In a joint statement published on Wednesday, the two parties apologised to each other for the ‘hurt and harm’ caused to either side and wished each other ‘well for the future’. The settlement was met with disappointment from the legal community, as the test case was expected to carve certainty into the employment landscape. Andrew Jewell, principal at McDonald Murholme, said there are ‘no clear lessons’ from the settlement, except for the fact that ‘there is still a lot of uncertainty’there is still a lot of uncertainty’there is still a lot of uncertainty’. ‘For example, it remains uncertain as to whether a corporate lawyer can terminate an employee for public comments which express a religious or political view that is seen as damaging to the employer,’ he explained. ‘The trial was an extremely interesting employment law case because it would have examined the breadth of the freedom from religious discrimination, how freedom of speech interacts with discrimination law, and to what extent employers can curtail public comments made by employees,’ he added. However, as the matter resolved outside of court, these questions remain unanswered.
Following a damning report by the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Independent Commissioner Against Corruption (ICAC), a new taskforce has been commissioned to crack down on maladministration within SA Health. The ICAC Public Integrity Survey released in August uncovered allegations of toxic workplace culturesuncovered allegations of toxic workplace culturesuncovered allegations of toxic workplace cultures within SA Health where staff were ‘too scared to report’ misconduct and corruption for fear of losing their jobs. Jim McDowell, chief executive of the Department of Premier and Cabinet, will lead the taskforce to bring cultural change to SA Health. Health Minister Stephen Wade justified the taskforce in saying that ‘We know SA Health won’t be able to heal itself.’ ‘That’s why the Government will be establishing a cross-agency taskforce led by the chief executive of the Department of Premier and Cabinet.’ The ICAC report, commissioned by Bruce Lander and tabled in Parliament last week, outlined cultural issues, as well as bullying and harassment practices within SA Health. Lander said 18 per cent of complaints received by his office were regarding SA Health. Given the severity of the complaints, Mr Lander requested the State Government allocate $2 million to the taskforce in order to conduct a full evaluation of SA Health’s practices. This request, however, was ultimately rejected. Shadow Health Minister Chris Picton criticised this outcome, labelling the government’s inaction as ‘weak and pathetic.’