What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 29 July 2019 – 4 August 2019

Liberal Party Adopts Code of Conduct at the Same Time as Sexual Assault Allegations Surface
The Liberal Party has come under fire after two former female staffers have alleged that they were sexually assaulted while working for the party several years ago. The allegations emerged this week and coincided with Liberal Party President, Nick Greiner, announcing the introduction of a new code of conduct. Mr Greiner claims that the new measures have no connection to the allegations. Instead, Greiner claims that. the code of conduct reflects recommendations from the Liberal Party’s recent bullying review. The review, commissioned by Prime Minister Scott Morrison after the leadership spill last year, is said to be near completion. While Mr Greiner denies any connection with this week’s allegations, the fact that the federal executive is adopting a code has been seen as a concession that there are cultural problems within the party.

Calls for Resignation of Newcastle Councillor for a Range of Inappropriate Remarks
Former jockey and New South Wales councillor, Allan Robinson, has faced calls to resign following allegations of ‘relentless sexism and homophobic bullying’. While denying allegations that he had made homophobic remarks about fellow councilmen Declan Clausen, Robinson wrote to a Newcastle Herald journalist saying he had ‘no problems with poofs’. ‘I have one working for me and I’m very good friends with three poofs who I’m proud to say they are my friends’; he wrote in the email. This is not the first time Robinson has been caught making offensive remarks about fellow councillors. In 2015, he was subject to an investigation after he referred to a fellow councillor as a ‘beefcake’. As recently as this week, Robinson was heard comparing a female councillor to an elephant, saying: ‘some people have got more hide than Jessie the elephant’. In calling for Robinson to resign, Clausen said he is ‘proud to be an openly gay deputy lord mayor’. ‘The Newcastle I know is a welcoming and increasingly diverse community. Such behaviour would simply not be tolerated in any other workplace,’ he said.

Folau Has Commenced legal Proceedings Against Rugby Australia for Unfair Dismissal
Israel Folau has commenced legal proceedings against Rugby Australia and the New South Wales Waratahs in the Federal Circuit Court of Melbourne. In launching the lawsuit, Folau claims that his multi-million-dollar contract was unfairly terminated based on his religious beliefs. Rugby Australia claimed that the termination was justified as Folau had breached its professional player’s code of conduct. This decision was later upheld by an independent court. The decision was controversial as Folau was regarded as one of the Wallabies’ key players.

The upcoming hearing is listed to be heard on August 13th. Folau’s application in the Federal Circuit Court follows an unsuccessful attempt at mediation in the Fair Work Commission. In this initial application to the Fair Work Commission, Folau sought approximately $10 million in compensation.

Defamation Action Partially Successful Despite Bullying and Drinking on Duty Claims Proven
In the case of Noone v Brown [2019] QDC 133, the plaintiff, Ms Noone, who was the director of nursing, said that the defendant Ms Brown defamed her through posting comments on facebook about her. The comments posted included that she drank on duty, that she was sacked from her previous job for drinking on duty and that she should be sacked from her current position. Ms Brown did not first speak to Ms Noone to get her version before posting these comments.
The Brisbane District Court has found that Maxine Noone, head nurse at a Queensland aged care facility, was drunk on the job and bullied her staff; she was rude, demeaning and aggressive. However, despite labelling Ms Noone ‘vindictive’ and ‘controlling’, the court awarded her $15,000 in a lawsuit against aged care advocate Helen Brown. Ms Brown was found to have defamed Ms Noone in relation to some of the comments she posted, that she was not able to proof the truth of.