What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 30 November 2020 – 6 December 2020

Former One Nation Senator Accused of Sexual Harassment

Former One Nation Senator Brian Burston has been accused of sexual harassing an ex-staffer. Burston is now fighting the significant compensation claim.

Morrison Government Furious with ABC

Communications Minister Paul Fletcher has demanded the ABC to explain how the explosive Four Corners report, ‘Inside the Canberra Bubble’, was in the public interest. The Morrison government has remained furious with the public broadcaster for airing allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct against senior ministers Alan Tudge and Christian Porter in the November 9 episode. While Mr Tudge has issued a formal apology for having an affair with former staffer Rachelle Miller, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has declined to take action against the pair.

Reports of Discrimination and Sexual Harassment Within Ambulance Victoria

The Victorian Human Rights Commission’s investigation into ambulance services in Victoria has found that women paramedics experience sexism, harassment, bullying and overt gender and sex based discrimination. November 2020 especially saw an explosion of complaints by female paramedics employed by Victoria Ambulance. The complaints included fears of facing retribution and punishment for speaking up.

Sexual Harassment Met with Aggravated Damages

The Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Tribunal has made an aggravated damages order against a Toll Transport courier who sexually harassed a Sanity store manager. The Tribunal found that the Toll Transport courier had engaged in behaviour of a sexual nature, included slapping the Sanity store manager on the bottom, asking her on several occasions about her relationship status and repeatedly calling her ‘Juicy Lucy.’ When the courier was confronted about his behaviour, he responded with ‘don’t tell your boss I did that.’

Norton Rose Partner Destroyed Evidence In Fair Work Case

A partner at law firm Norton Rose Fulbright (NRF) in Sydney has defended his decision to destroy notes taken during an internal investigation into workplace bullying. In an act described as merely ‘standard practice,’ David Cross admitted to destroying notes in a hearing before federal court judge Robert Cameron. The firm is currently embroiled in a workplace bullying claim brought by former employee Suet Ying (Alice) Edgar. Edgar alleged that the firm terminated her two months after making an unsuccessful complaint. NRF, however, contends Edgar was dismissed due to a loss of trust and confidence.

atWork Australia Calls on Workplaces To Educate Staff on Invisible Disabilities

Disability employment services provider atWork Australia has called on Australian workplaces to educate staff on invisible disabilities in view of the International Day of People with Disability. Held on December 3, the day aims to increase public awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with disability. The day comes as APM’s 2021 APM Disability, Diversity & Inclusivity (DDI) Index found that 97% per cent of Australian employers believe there are major benefits in hiring people with disability despite continued challenges to greater employment and inclusion.

InterEngineer Works To Bring Together Industry’s LGBTIQ Professionals and Allies

Engineering companies across Australia have launched a new LGBTIQ networking group, InterEngineer, with a view to bringing together the industry’s LGBTIQ professionals and allies. The initiative is important as the 2020 Australian Workplace Equality Index (AWEI) survey found a 19% decrease from 2019 in the number of employees who were completely open about their sexuality at work.

Survey Conducted Across Three Major Universities Reveals Widespread Concerns about Bullying and Harassment

According to a report by the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption (ICAC), approximately 30 per cent of staff at three South Australian universities report having been bullied or harassed. Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Ann Vanstone QC released the ICAC University Integrity Survey this week. The survey ran from March 10 to April 3 2020 and surveyed 3,240 staff working across the University of Adelaide, the University of South Australia and Flinders University. The survey found that ‘35.4 per cent of respondents believed their employer prioritises the university’s reputation over addressing complaints.’ Vanstone said the survey showed ‘areas of weakness, tension and risk that could provide opportunities for corruption’ within SA’s university sector.

Nearly a Quarter of Victorian Health Department Employees Report Workplace Bullying

Department of Health and Human Services secretary professor Euan Wallace told a public accounts and estimates committee last week that nearly a quarter of Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services employees reported experiencing workplace bullying in the year 2019-20. Mr Wallace explained that 18 per cent of workers reported in a survey they had been either bullied or harassed in the workplace. ‘We take bullying and harassment very seriously and we’ve got a whole of government strategy around bullying and harassment,’ he said.