What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 23 – 29 October 2017

Small Businesses Uncertain as to How to Respond to Bullying
A survey by Employsure for its Workplace Safety Index has revealed half of Australian small businesses have no action plan with which respond to workplace bullying. The inquiry, conducted of 400 businesses also found that 40%, especially those with between two and four members, do not know how to address workplace bullying. The report recommended three steps to improve the situation: firstly to consult and communicate with employees and educate them on bullying; secondly to develop a bullying policy; and thirdly to review the policy regularly and make it part of the organisational culture. Leadership expert, Polyanna Lenkic, said, “you can’t avoid the situation, because the natural tendency is to avoid [talking] about it. But if you’ve got a framework… then that’s key”. Furthermore, businesses that focussed on communication were better able to remedy internal conflicts.

Charles Waterstreet Denies Sexual Harassment of Student
Prominent Sydney barrister, Charles Waterstreet, has denied the allegations of sexual harassment made by a law student. Tina Ni Huang claims that the incident occurred during her interview for a paralegal position with Mr Waterstreet in August of 2017. In her sworn statement, Ms Huang alleged that he showed her explicit material on his phone, asked her if she “loved threesomes”, and described his pleasure at having women snort cocaine off his body. Mr Waterstreet, who claims to be the inspiration for the TV character Rake, has refuted her claims and flagged possible defamation action. According to him, he has a “series of emails that reveal the full extent of [his] correspondence with Tina Huang”.

Male Champions of Change Challenge Disguised Sexism
A new report by the ‘Male Champions of Change’, together with the federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner, has challenged executives to end thoughtless sexism in the workplace. We Set the Tone: Eliminating Everyday Sexism found ‘underlying’ sexism manifested itself in several ways: insults disguised as jokes, devaluing women’s views, making assumptions about carers, labelling, stereotyping and a preoccupation with physical appearance. The report described these “little things” as being “too small to make a fuss about” and “not ill-intended”, but which have a cumulatively damaging effect. It recommended fighting it by doing such things as calling out sexist jokes, and expecting both sexes to equally share administrative tasks around the office. The Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Ms Jenkins, said, “Unless we tackle [it] the most innovative policies and initiatives designed to advance gender equality… will not deliver the change we need”.