What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 30 January 2023 – 5 February 2023

Teal Member of Parliament Faces Federal Court Following Employee Allegations

Teal MP Monique Ryan has been taken to court by activist and current employee Sally Rugg. Ryan attempted to dismiss Rugg only six months after her employment in her position as chief of staff as Rugg “refused to work ‘unreasonable’ hours.” According to the Fair Work Act, employees may refuse to work unreasonable hours based on a number of factors that include their health, personal circumstances, the usual requirements and patterns of work in the industry, and the employee’s level of responsibility.. Rugg further alleges that her refusal to work the ‘additional hours’ resulted in the Commonwealth engaging in “hostile conduct in the workplace.”

Australian Government Introduces New Federal Body for Protection of Arts Workers

The Australian government has released a national cultural policy, Revive. Its aim is to create a comprehensive arts policy and extensive funding to enhance the lives of all Australians in the arts space. One of the aims of the new body is to address issues of sexual harassment, bullying, assault and discrimination within the “Australian music industry.” The new Centre aims to “develop codes of conduct for the sector” and “implement all 55 recommendations of the Respect@Work report on workplace sexual harassment.”

Treasury Orders Investigation After Reports of Sexual Harassment

Treasury has commissioned an independent review into the Productivity Commission following complaints of sexual harassment and sexism. Former and current workers have said that complaints of sexual harassment and sexism within the Commission “fell on deaf ears.” Further, the AFR details how an ex-employee of the Commission sent a letter to Treasurer Jim Chalmers explaining how instances of sexual harassment had not been addressed. Following this letter, Treasurer Jim Chalmers consulted with the Treasury Secretary Steven Kennedy, who “commissioned an independent review.”

Bruce Lehrmann Lodges Professional Misconduct Case Following Brittany Higgins Trial

SBS detailed this week that Bruce Lehrmann, the man who was previously accused of raping Brittany Higgins, has filed a professional misconduct case against the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). Lehrmann is alleging that the DPP failed to provide him with a fair trial, stating that prosecutor Shane Drumgold was motivated by “political interests.”. The trial was abandoned last year following juror misconduct. SBS describes that the claim was lodged in December in 2022, where Lehrmann accused Drumgold of “pursuing the matter through the media.” The matter is set to be reported to the Australian Capital Territory Chief Minister on 30 June 2023.