What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 25 May 2020 – 31 May 2020

People with a Disability Become Entrepreneurs as a Way to Secure Work

A new study by UTS Business School has found that people with disabilities are approximately 40% more likely to be self-employed. The recent Entrepreneurs with Disability Report analysed Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data and surveyed 160 self-employed people with a disability. It found that 13% of those with a disability are self-employed, compared to 10% of the general population. It also found that many respondents see entrepreneurship and self-employment as an avenue to overcome barriers to employment and overcome discrimination. Many also said their employment decisions were based on a desire to achieve economic and personal independence. Others simply said their disability makes it impractical to work traditional hours, or in a traditional office setup. Simon Darcy, professor of management at UTS Business School, and the report’s co-author, said the findings indicate the needs and aspirations of people with disabilities are not being met by traditional employment models. ‘A lot of people feel disgruntled,’ he said in a statement. ‘They face blocks to getting a job that they want, they face blocks to progressing their career, and, given the discriminatory stereotypes and attitudes towards disability out there, they also often face serious blocks getting a job in the first place,’ Professor Darcy said. Indeed, one interviewee said it was easier to go their own way, than face the ‘brick wall’ of misconceptions. Given this inclination toward entrepreneurial pursuits, the findings suggest there needs to be ‘more inclusive start-up support and education programs, as well as more focus on funding, mentorship and networking opportunities for people with disabilities.’ Kerrie Langford, head of employment and workforce innovation at National Disability Services, is leading the charge with calls for more entrepreneurial support services. She said employment support available should expand ‘to enable the entrepreneurial spirit and innovation’ of people with disabilities. ‘If we are to shift consistently poor employment outcomes for people with disability in Australia, then options such as inclusive start-up support, business incubators tailored to the specific needs of people with disability, and evidenced-based programs for school leavers should all be priorities for investment,’ Langford said in a statement.

Damning Report of Bullying and Sexual Harassment at AirServices Australia

A 2019 report into Airservices Australia has revealed that the aviation safety organisation has a toxic culture rife with bullying, sexual harassment and unacceptable behaviour. Last year former Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick initiated an investigation into Airservices Australia following a report which warned that workplace culture was placing air traveller’s lives in danger. The investigation conducted face-to-face or telephone interviews with 200 Airservices staff. The investigation also received more than 80 written submissions, and responses from 2,171 staff to online surveys. In doing so, Ms. Broderick’s team aimed to uncover the internal culture at Airservices Australia, ‘specifically relating to bullying, harassment, sexual harassment, psychological welfare and inclusion.’ The resulting report found that 50% of Airservices staff reported experiencing bullying in the past five years. Female employees also reported a ‘boys’ club’ culture that was said to affect everyday work and promotion prospects. Ms Broderick said of the findings that ‘[t]he levels of bullying in particular, as well as sexual harassment, are unacceptable. They need to be addressed as a matter of urgency.’ The report draws on extensive qualitative and quantitative data and makes 19 detailed recommendations. In light of concerns which prompted the inquiry, an Airservices Australia’s spokesperson assured ABC staff ‘there is no evidence to suggest any of the cases reported in the culture review has led to any reduction in aviation safety.’ And while the spokesperson was adamant in that, their assurance is at odds with last year’s report by former Federal Court Judge Anthony North QC. His Honour found that the culture at Airservices Australia was ‘so poor it could; compromise the safety of passengers.’ ‘Of particular concern in the air navigation control environment, in which Airservices operates, is the potential for the poor workplace culture to have effects which compromise the safety of aircraft and passengers,’ Mr North observed. Airservices chief executive Jason Harfield promised staff this week that he and his team were committed to reforming the workplace and more changes would be coming.