What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 5 – 11 February 2018

Australian Defence Force Accused of Discriminating against Transgender Cadets
Two former cadets have alleged they were the subjects of discrimination due to transitioning genders while at the Australian Defence Force Academy. Despite a policy intended to prevent abuse of transgender people, and the fact that it would not affect their ability to perform, both say they were forced to leave once they had come out. The ADF began permitting transgender people to serve in 2010 but it was not until 2015 that the culture began to change “for the better”, according to Professor Riseman from the Australian Catholic University. In spite of this, Sarah Bowley, one of the claimants, says she was removed within three days of notifying her superior she had transitioned. She and Joel Wilson have made formal complaints, without any satisfactory results. Although the ADF would not comment on their specific cases, it did maintain it was “committed to creating a safe, supportive and inclusive workplace for all”.

Fair Work Commission Rejects Increase to Childhood Workers’ Pay on the Basis of Sex Discrimination
The Fair Work Commission has dismissed a 2013 application calling for childhood educators’ pay to be increased (in the Application by United Voice and the Australian Education Union [2018] FWCFB 177). United Voice and the Australian Education Union had argued that the work of educators other than teachers was undervalued because of gender inequality, owing to the fact that the overwhelming majority of such workers are women. However, the full bench of the tribunal found the unions had not succeeded in proving these workers were paid less than men doing work of comparable value. Rather, the Fair Work Commission criticised the unions for not “calling any evidence whatsoever” and for their claim that childhood education was “comparable” to manufacturing work (based on a 2005 ruling). Helen Gibbons, the assistant secretary of United Voice, blamed the loss on the Fair Work Act, saying it was not “fit for purpose to deliver equal pay in the 21st century”. United Voice is set to take strike action to continue their call for equal pay in the childhood education sector in March.