What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 6 – 12 August 2018

Commissioner of Emergency Management Resigns Amidst Allegations of Bullying
The Commissioner of Emergency Management Victoria has resigned in the face of allegations of inappropriate workplace behaviour. Craig Lapsley, who also serves as the state’s most senior firefighter, denied claims that he had bullied his employees. Nevertheless, he departed as WorkSafe Victoria was set to investigate the allegations. The Emergency Services Minister, James Merlino, said that, “Mr Lapsley has not always conducted himself in accordance with the very high standards expected… [and] the EMV workplace has been very difficult and challenging”.

DFES WA to Undergo Equality and Bias Training
As part of a suite of reforms, recruiters from the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) WA will have to undergo equality and bias training to improve employment prospects for women. This comes following the release of a report into the resignation of the state’s first female DFES superintendent. In 2017, Amanda Williamson left the position due to what she considered to be sexism and union cronyism. While the recent report from the Public Sector Commission could not conclude that the DFES had engaged in bullying and discrimination, it did recommend that the department review its recruitment procedures and focus on promoting gender equality among its ranks. In addition to mandatory training, selection panels will need to have a balance of men and women, while female firefighters will also be free to ask for uniforms better suited to their bodies.

Allegations of Sexual Harassment by GM of Community Radio Station

Allegations of sexual harassment against Hills Radio general manager, Chris Carpenter, are growing. Originally, Penelope Herbert claimed that as a volunteer and board member of the community radio station, she was harassed and indecently assaulted by Mr Carpenter. However, it has come to light that Mr Carpenter was also issued with a caution for stalking another woman in 2017. The board chairman, Greg Moore, discouraged Ms Herbert from publicly raising her allegations because he feared it would damage the station’s reputation. Indeed, while some of the radio’s sponsor organisations consider these to be mere “accusations that haven’t been proven”, others, like the Mount Barker District Council, have already terminated sponsorship agreements with the station.

Investigation Regarding MP Emma Husar Released
John Whelan’s independent investigation into Labor MP, Emma Husar, has been released, detailing its findings of her alleged workplace bullying and harassment. While it concluded that serious allegations of sexual harassment were unfounded, it did find in the complainants’ favour regarding Ms Husar’s treatment of staff and misuse of public moneys. In relation to the former, it said that staff members were “subjected to unreasonable management including unreasonable communication, demands, practices and disciplinary methods”. In light of this, it recommended further staff training, as well as a review of the accessibility of the staff complaints process. However, a spokesperson for NSW Labor denies that this constituted sufficient grounds for the parliamentarian to resign. Nonetheless, Ms Husar does not intend to re-contest the seat of Lindsay in the upcoming federal election. NSW Labor will not publicly release Mr Whelan’s findings.

MP Emma Husar Alleges Exclusion by Another MP
Embattled MP Emma Husar has made allegations that one of her Labor party colleagues engaged in bullying behaviour. Ms Husar claimed that state parliamentarian Prue Car deliberately excluded her from Labor party events within the bounds of her electorate, given that Ms Car’s state electoral division of Londonderry shares some crossover with Ms Husar’s federal electorate of Lindsay. Among her 14 examples of deliberate exclusion, Ms Husar accused Ms Car of not inviting her to the opening of a new electorate office and of organising a media conference to discuss local commuters without alerting her. Ms Husar has made similar accusations of not inviting her to mutual Labor functions against a second, anonymous Labor party member.