What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 29 October – 4 November 2018

NSW Public Health Riddled with Bullying
The most recent People Matter Employee Survey by the NSW Public Service Commission has revealed that the state’s public health system is riddled with bullying and harassment. The survey, which had 65,000 respondents, indicated that more than one third of staff had witnessed bullying in the past year alone. One in five reported having been bullied and one in twenty indicated to having been physically harmed or sexually harassed. A spokesperson for NSW Health stated that they were taking these allegations seriously and putting $4.6m into changing Local Health Districts’ culture each year. As part of these changes, a confidential anti-bullying line, employee assistance program and local action plans are set to be implemented.

Former 7 West Director Alleges Discrimination Based on Pregnancy
A former director and senior executive of Seven West Media has claimed to have been discriminated against on the basis of her pregnancy. Lisa Squillace is currently in a dispute with Seven Media over a non-compete clause that would prevent her from starting a new job with Network Ten. As part of the dispute, Ms Squillace argues that while at Seven, she was not given the opportunity to apply to work as the Director of Sales, despite having extensive experience and having worked with Seven for a long time. Ms Squillace claims not to even have been invited to apply, due to the fact she was then six months pregnant. Seven maintains that Natalie Harvey was appointed on merit due to her media background. Seven additionally argues that as Ms Squillace did not raise any of her concerns at the time or any time since then, she has merely manufactured them to avoid her contractual obligations and abide by the non-compete clause.

Recent Review Says One Third Employees are Bullied by Their Boss
The most recent Employsure State of Work review by Roy Morgan has highlighted the extent of workplace bullying. The review, which surveyed more than 600 workers, found that one in three Australians are bullied by their bosses. It also found that the farming and food, education, and health care industries are most vulnerable to bullying bosses, with 52.6%, 50.6% and 39.5% of respondents respectively identifying bullying behaviour.

Allegations of Sexual Harassment at Google
Employees at Google’s Sydney office have protested workplace harassment. They joined Google employees worldwide to protest the treatment of company executives accused of sexual harassment. The protest was sparked by a story that Andy Rubin, who created Google’s Android software, was awarded a $90m severance package despite having credible allegations of sexual harassment made against him. One Sydney employee said that workplace sexual harassment was a “part of [their] culture”, with another detailing their own experience of their drunk manager trying to kiss them.

Sky News Commentator Fired for Racist Remarks On Air
A commentator on Sky News has been fired for making racist comments on air. Ross Cameron described Chinese people as “black-haired, slanty-eyed [and] yellow-skinned” during the 30 October broadcast of the show, Outsiders. Chief Executive Paul Whittaker terminated Mr Cameron’s employment three days later, apologising for any offence caused.

No Trainees Allowed at Sydney Hospital Due To Bullying
Allegations of bullying have led to Sydney’s Royal Prince Alfred Hospital losing its ability to train in its cardiothoracic surgery department in 2019. This decision was made following an accreditation review, with the Sydney Local Health District voicing its concern over the negative impact surgeons’ relationships were having on trainee doctors. The decision may be reconsidered before the year’s end, which could see trainees return in 2020. Indeed, while no trainees have been allocated to the department for 2019, Sydney Local Health District stated that they were taking steps to improve the environment for trainees.

Ad for Caucasian Santa Criticised

An online advertisement for a shopping centre Santa Claus has been removed over criticisms it was discriminatory. The ad, posted on behalf of the entertainment agency Essential Talent on Indeed.com, called for “Caucasian mature age men” to apply to play the role of Santa Claus in shopping centres around Adelaide. The same ad that was posted to Seek.com did not contain the reference to ethnicity. Indeed, one spokesperson for Essential Talent claimed the ad was “doctored” as the original did not mention “Caucasian”. However, another spokesperson stated that the role was one requiring casting with “specific requirements”. UWA associate lecturer Liam Elphick, who specialises in discrimination law, said it was unlawful to discriminate on the basis of race “in the terms or conditions on which employment is offered”. He also noted that this was unlikely to be a situation in which being Caucasian would constitute a “genuine occupational requirement” to play Santa.

Victim of Alleged Sexual Harassment by Rush Takes the Stand
In Geoffrey Rush’s ongoing defamation trial, his accuser has testified that senior performers “enabled” his sexual harassment of her. Eryn Jean Norvill stated that Mr Rush sexually harassed her during Sydney Theatre Company’s production of King Lear by making groping gestures during rehearsals and deliberately touching her right breast during a 2015 preview performance. She claimed not to have wanted to speak for fear of jeopardising the production. She also alleged that senior performers, including Robyn Nevin, “enabled” the behaviour, suggesting that it was a product of their different generations and having different views of what was “culturally acceptable in the workplace”. Ms Nevin, 76, and her 56-year-old co-star Helen Buday, denied having witnessed any untoward behaviour during the production.

Review into Cricketing Australia Reveals Bullying Tactics
Reviews into Cricket Australia have revealed cultural deficiencies, especially among administrators. The reports – one by The Ethics Centre into Cricket Australia culture and the other into team culture by Rick McCosker – accused the governing body of perpetuating a toxic culture. Simon Longstaff, who led The Ethics Centre’s ‘A Matter of Balance’, described their ethos of “winning without counting the costs”. His report found that Cricket Australia consistently did not meet its stated values, and also uncovered “instances of disrespect” and bullying. One anonymous respondent stated that the “CA does not handle situations well when it goes against them. They revert to bully tactics or worse, ostracising!” The Ethics Centre report has made 42 recommendations in response to its findings.