What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 5 June 2023 – 11 June 2023

Secure Jobs Better Pay Changes Commence to Commence 6 June

The Fair Work Commission has announced this week the commencement of several changes under the Secure Jobs, Better Pay Act 2022. From 6 June 2023, several changes have come into effect under the new legislation, including alterations to “bargaining, enterprise agreements… disputes about flexible work arrangements and extensions of unpaid parental leave.” The changes to bargaining include protected action ballot orders, multi-employer bargaining and intractable bargaining declarations and determinations. Further, the Fair Work Commission is now able to deal with disputes arising from requests for flexible working arrangements, as well as extensions of unpaid parental leave. These changes include the introduction of two new forms, including a Form F10B and a Form F10C. Further, the amendments include the right for employees to request flexible working arrangements in relation to “employees, or a member of their immediate family or household, experiencing family and domestic violence,” as well as employees who are pregnant. The legislation imposes an obligation on employers to discuss the request of the flexible working arrangement with the employee, to make a genuine effort to accommodate or find alternative arrangements and to consider the consequences for the refusal, as well as provide a written response.

Bruce Lehrmann States in Interview He Hasn’t ‘Ruled Out’ Suing Brittany Higgins for Defamation

Bruce Lehrmann has stated in an interview this week that he has not “ruled out” suing Ms Brittany Higgins personally for defamation. Mr Lehrmann spoke to 7NEWS Spotlight in relation to the allegations that he had raped Ms Higgins in Parliament House in 2019. Mr Lehrmann’s trial was abandoned last year due to juror misconduct. Mr Lehrmann has always denied the allegations and no findings have been made against him. Currently, Mr Lehrmann is suing Network Ten as well as Lisa Wilkinson in relation to an interview conducted with Ms Higgins, as well as the ABC for broadcasting a speech by Ms Higgins. In the 7NEWS interview, Mr Lehrmann stated that the motivation behind the defamation action was to “reduce the impact Ms Higgin’s allegation had had on his reputation.” Mr Lehrmann’s defamation claim has stated that, despite not having been named, he was identifiable in the interview with Ms Higgins. While Mr Lehrmann stated he had not rejected defamation action against Ms Higgins, he said that “it is not a good look to kick someone when they’re down. I have some sympathy for her.” Moreover, according to the article, Mr Lehrmann discussed the night of the alleged incident in the interview, stating that “he and Ms Higgins had no further contact once they had entered the office of Senator Linda Reynolds.”

Detective Investigating Brittany Higgins Rape Allegation Felt ‘Threatened’ by Ms Higgins’ Partner David Sharaz

A detective who had investigated Ms Brittany Higgin’s rape allegations said in a witness statement that he “didn’t like being threatened” following a telephone conversation with Ms Higgins’ partner, David Sharaz. According to the article, a new witness statement by the Victim of Crime Commissioner Heidi Yates had been submitted to the Board of inquiry. The Board of inquiry is investigating the conduct of criminal justice agencies in relation to the Bruce Lehrmann trial. Ms Yates stated in her witness statement that Detective Boorman had spoken to her and was upset, saying words to the effect of “I don’t like being threatened.” Further, Mr Sharaz had contacted Detective Boorman and threatened “to go public over the failure to charge Bruce Lehrmann.” Shortly after this incident, Mr Boorman took leave. According to the article, defence lawyer Steve Whybrow stated that when he met with Mr Boorman, he had appeared to be “anxious and agitated and concerned that we not be seen speaking together in the direct line of sight of the ODPP.” Further, Mr Whybrow stated that Detective Boorman had indicated “he was quite distressed about this prosecution and considered that Mr Lehrmann was innocent” and that he would resign “if the jury comes back with a guilty verdict.” Mr Boorman reportedly has not been called to give evidence in the inquiry.

Dr Geoff Crawford Disqualified Over Sexual Relationship, Inappropriate Conduct with Patients

An ophthalmologist based in Nedlands, Western Australia has been found by the Western Australian State Administrative Tribunal as having behaved “in a way that constituted professional misconduct.” According to the article, Dr Geoffrey Crawford was disqualified from practising medicine for two years after having been found to have sex with a patient and making “inappropriate sexual comments” to another. Dr Crawford is the second practitioner to have been disqualified from practising medicine, with the first occurring in 1992 in relation to a year-long sexual relationship between a doctor and a patient. The article states that Dr Crawford had told a 30-year-old female patient that she was “beautiful” and put his arms around her. The patient returned a few days later after experiencing painful and red eyes, where Dr Crawford said she looked “beautiful in that dress” and embraced her, as well as kissed her on the cheek. Further, in 2002, Dr Crawford met with a female patient for coffee and commenced a physical relationship. The SAT stated that Dr Crawford was “in a position of trust and power relative to the patient at the time they commenced their intimate and sexual relationship.”

Former Cricket Australia Executive Timothy Whittaker Avoids Jail for Sexual Assault

Former Cricket Australia CEO Timothy Whittaker was sentenced this week after having been found guilty of sexually touching two men without consent in 2016 and 2019. The Melbourne Magistrates Court sentenced Mr Whittaker to a 30-month community corrections order in relation to the crimes. Defence counsel Dermot Dann KC submitted to the Court Mr Whittaker’s personal circumstances, describing that he “privately begun to crumble under the pressure of Cricket Australia’s ‘fairly disturbing workplace culture.’” Further, Mr Dann submitted that Mr Whittaker developed “a significant problem with alcohol” following the stress of his work environment, including several crises such as a ball-tampering incident, the Tim Paine photo scandal and a 2018 cultural review. Mr Dann stated that “alcohol is very much the setting in which these two incidents occur; indeed, one of the incidents occurs directly after a workplace function.” According to the article, on the night of the incident, Mr Reuben Williams fell asleep on the couch at Mr Whittaker’s Abbotsford apartment after a night of drinking. Mr Williams later woke to find himself in Mr Whittaker’s bed with his clothes “half off” and Mr Whittaker masturbating him. The second victim “Jim” had been sexually assaulted by Mr Whittaker in similar circumstances.