What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 20 – 26 December 2021

Senior APS Managers Encouraged to Attend Sexual Harassment Prevention Workshops

This week, the work health and safety regulator for the federal government encouraged senior public servants to participate in sexual harassment training. The recommendation came after the Australian Public Service (APS) Commission released its State of Service report. The report showed that sexual harassment had more than doubled in the last year. The APS Commissioner, Peter Woolcott, believes that people have more confidence to report sexual harassment. The federal government will implement Comcare training, especially for senior leaders. The two workshops are respectively 90 minutes and half-day in length. More than 1000 employees attended the two-day Comcare workshop in November.

Inquiry Into Religious Discrimination Bill Hears Shocking Story of Woman Fired For Wearing A Hijab

A female pharmacist was forced to resign after refusing to stop wearing her hijab. The pharmacy, in Sydney’s east, told the employee that the hijab would offend the residents in the suburb. The Australian National Imams Council told the story to an inquiry into the Religious Discrimination Bill. The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils cited 349 incidents of Islamophobia in the last 2 years. The inquiry, conducted by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, will recommence on January 14, 2022.

Christian Schools Defend Right to Discipline Divorced Or Gay Staff

Two Christian education groups have defended the Religious Discrimination Bill. The groups said that a faith schools’ ability to employ staff based on religious values includes consideration of sexual orientation and divorce. Christian Schools Australia policy director, Mark Spencer, said that someone who is divorced may possibly lose their job as it may conflict with a school’s values. The Religious Discrimination Bill has provoked significant debate between faith groups and LGBT+ advocates. The bill will allow faith schools to positively discriminate by hiring people of the same religion.

Religious Discrimination Bill: Catholic Schools’ Pledge To Gay Kids Comes With A Catch

Some senior members of Catholic education bodies have chimed into the conversation surrounding the Religious Discrimination Bill. One senior member expressed that the Catholic sector is open to creating frameworks to protect LGBT+ students. However, the executive director of the National Catholic Education Commission, Jacinta Collins, said that faith schools should also be “free to be Catholic”. Ms Collins emphasised that Catholic schools do not seek to discriminate against people based on personal attributes, including sexual orientation.

Delay in WA for New Safety Laws- Not Until March 2022

The WA State Government’s Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act 2020 now won’t go into effect until March 2022.

The Minister for Industrial Relations, Stephen Dawson, released exposure drafts of regulations for the Act on December 17. As a result, the new laws, which were originally intended to take effect in January 2022, will now take effect in March 2022.

The Act received the Governor’s assent in November 2020 but it can only be proclaimed once the accompanying regulations are complete. The new laws and regulations will be the biggest change to WA’s occupational safety and health system since the 1980s.

In a national first, the new laws will bring WHS requirements for general industry, mines and petroleum operations together under a single Act.
The changes align WA’s laws more closely with those of the other Australian states and territories and will significantly impact businesses, many of which will have to undertake a massive update of safety systems and practices.

Courage Medal Agent Charged With Criminal Misconduct

Former detective superintendent, Danny Shaddock, has been charged with misconduct following an investigation into sexual harassment. Mr Shaddock used police databases to search for inappropriate content. A series of complaints have been made against Mr Shaddock for sexual misconduct. Mr Shaddock has tried to attribute his behaviour to a depressive disorder following workplace bullying and an incident in which he rescued men from a tank filled with ammonia. A spokeswoman from the Victoria Police Department confirmed that a detective had committed misconduct on duty.