What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 28 December 2020 – 3 January 2021

ACT Law Society Created Specific System for Sexual Harassment Complaints

On advice from a working group set up in the wake of the Dyson Heydon scandal, the ACT Law Society has committed to establishing a system specifically for sexual harassment complaints within the legal profession. The system will connect ACT legal practitioners with a confidant before they decide whether or not to report sexual misconduct. ACT Law Society president, Elizabeth Carroll, said allegations of sexual harassment against legal practitioners had historically been handled under an umbrella of ethical complaints at the society. However, the working group suggested that a dedicated sexual harassment reporting system may be more effective. ‘The legal profession is a place where we really would hope that our members would be free from this kind of unacceptable behaviour and we want to be on the front foot and make sure that we’re addressing that,’ Ms Carroll said. ‘[We know] that this is more likely to happen at younger levels – people starting out in their career,’ she added. So, ‘it’s really important that we’re fostering our talent and making sure that we’re supporting [people] when they’re in that more vulnerable stage of their career.’

Qantas Employee Sacked After Exposing Himself to Colleague on Flight

Qantas Airlines has sacked a 54-year-old flight attendant who was accused of exposing himself to a colleague mid-air. The female co-worker alleged that the man exposed himself on-board a Qantas flight from Perth to Melbourne in April 2019. During the flight, the woman sent text messages to a friend documenting both the man’s behaviour and her distress. Upon returning to Perth several days later, she reported the incident to police. A Qantas spokesperson confirmed the man’s employment was terminated after an internal investigation. ‘As soon as this incident was reported we immediately conducted a workplace investigation and terminated his employment,’ Qantas said in a statement. ‘We have zero tolerance for any form of harassment. Everyone has the right to feel safe and respected when they come to work,’ the statement added. The NSW man was charged by the Australian Federal Police late last year with one count of committing an act of indecency. The man first faced court in March this year, but the case was delayed due to COVID-19. He is set to appear before the Perth Magistrates Court on Tuesday via audio link from Sydney.

Federal Funding to Support People with Mental Illness in Employment

Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston has confirmed that the Morrison Government has committed $45.7 million to address barriers that prevent people with mental illness and disability from finding and retaining a job. The investment will extend two programs dedicated to helping young people with mental illness join the workforce. The funding will also double the number of headspace sites running the evidence-based Individual Placement and Support Program (IPS) to 50 and support headspace National to continue the Digital Work and Study Service. The Department of Social Services is also developing a new National Disability Employment Strategy which will consider a diverse range of barriers preventing people with physical, neurological and intellectual disability as well as mental health issues, from finding and retaining employment.