On 21 March 2022, the Department of Social Services announced a national employment campaign to promote disability inclusivity. The campaign will engage more than 100,000 people with disability in big Australian businesses. The Minister for Families and Social Services, Anne Ruston, said that the Coalition will invest $6 million in a national advertising scheme for the campaign. Dylan Alcott, 2022 Australian of the Year, will be the face of the Get Skilled Access advertisements. This is a recent example of the government’s attempt to end discrimination against people with disabilities. Other private corporations are seeking to promote inclusivity, with companies such as Coles launching an employment scheme of its own.
The Brisbane school, Citipointe Christian College, has received more media attention for its anti-LGBT+ sentiments. It has been revealed that the school has asked teachers to sign employment contracts that explicitly warn that they could be dismissed for their sexuality. A former teacher lost his job for refusing to sign the contract in February. The contracts have been justified by the school as promoting the Christian faith. The school wrote that “nothing in his/her deliberate conduct should be incompatible with the intrinsic character of their position, especially, but not only, in relation to the expression of human sexuality through heterosexual, monogamous relationships, expressed intimately through marriage. Your failure to abide by such requirements expressed… could constitute a breach of your employment contract and subsequent dismissal.” This is the second scandal that the school has been involved in regarding discrimination in 2022.
Network 10 is in the spotlight for a bullying claim against The Project’s presenter Peter van Onselen. Fellow journalist Tegan George has commenced legal action against Network Ten. Tegan George has been on leave since mid-2021 following her initial accusation of sexual discrimination. A complaint is set to be made to the Australian Human Rights Commission. The overall claim is that a “toxic bullying” culture exists at the Canberra bureau and has reduced Ms George’s “standing and reputation” within the industry.
The Labor Party is again under fire for the allegations of bullying made by Kimberley Kitching before her sudden death. The Prime Minister has called opposition leader Anthony Albanese “pretty gutless” for not addressing the allegations within the party. Mr Albanese has had only one press conference regarding the matter, which was held last week. However, Deputy Labor leader Richard Marles has stated that Senator Kitching did not lodge a formal complaint on the matter. It was alleged that Senator Kitching went to Mr Marles directly about the bullying. Mr Marles denies this claim and Mr Albanese has ruled out the possibility of an inquiry into the treatment of Senator Kitching.
The Chair of Universities Australia, John Dewar, has apologised to students that have experienced sexual assault and harassment at university. The apology followed a report into sexual assault within Australian tertiary education, which revealed alarming numbers. The number of incidents has been called “distressing, disappointing and confronting.” The survey was conducted by the Social Research Centre and released on 23 March 2022. One in six respondents had been sexually harassed since starting university. These numbers are potentially higher due to underreporting. LGBT+ students were overrepresented as victims as well as younger students. Universities are now responding to these statistics, with ANU pledging $3.3 million towards sexual harassment prevention campaigns.
Harmony Day was held on 21 March 2022. This day marks the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Although the day represents cultural diversity, it should not be used to “sweep racism under the rug.” Racial discrimination is still prevalent in Australia, with a recent Racism at Work report indicating that 88% of respondents still agree that racism is an issue in Australian workplaces. Only 27% of respondents said that their organisations adequately dealt with racial discrimination. A new campaign was also announced on Harmony Day. ‘Call It Out’ is a new register that asks Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to anonymously report incidents of racism. Harmony Day brings greater awareness to the need to tackle racism within Australian workplaces and the broader community.