What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 7 – 13 November 2022

National Survey of Mental Health-Related Stigma and Discrimination

The results of the National Survey of Mental Health-Related Stigma and Discrimination have been released. The survey was completed in August 2021 by around 8000 participants. The survey included a series of questions on mental health-related discrimination in the workplace. One in three people reported unfair treatment in the workplace related to their mental health. The report breaks down types of stigma into three categories: (1) public stigma; (2) structural stigma; and (3) self-stigma. The release date of the report lines up with Movember, a month-long campaign that focuses on men’s mental health and raising awareness of the mental health of workers.

Perth Junior Doctor Suspended for Sexually Harassing Nurse

A Perth junior doctor, Jan Mina, has been banned from practice for a month and ordered to take ethics training after sending sexually explicit notes to a nurse. The conduct breached the Medical Board of Australia’s Code of Conduct for doctors. The doctor admitted to printing the notes and leaving them in the nurse’s locker during April 2020. The State Administrative Tribunal referred to the notes as “extremely sexually explicit” and “inappropriate and unwelcome”. In the same month, Mina created an anonymous Facebook account and sent the same nurse messages referring to the notes. Three months later, Mina sent another note including his number. The nurse felt intimidated and unsafe. She has been paid $7500 in compensation from Mina.

Implementing Domestic and Family Violence Leave

As previously mentioned, Australia has amended the Fair Work Act to introduce 10 days of paid leave for those experiencing family violence. The leave is set to come into effect from 1 February 2023. This article breaks down how to apply and the eligibility criteria for accessing the leave. The leave will be “reset” every year and available to employees at any stage of their contract. Employers will be able to observe whether an employee may be a victim of family violence. Identifying factors include:
– Excessive absence;
– Consistent lateness;
– Unexplained injuries;
– Anxious or distracted behaviours;
– Unusual work breaks;
– Lack of concentration;
– Receiving excessive personal calls; and
– Inability to take work trips.
Employees who take leave will be protected by confidentiality requirements. Employers should ensure confidentiality especially on payslips, emails and text messages regarding the leave, and phone calls that may be observed by the perpetrator.

Key Work Health and Safety Statistics Australia 2022

This new report compiles all work-related traumatic injuries and fatalities data from national statistics. The report does not outline whether any of these injuries were a result of bullying or discrimination. However, the report does include key findings on mental health conditions, showing that 9% of serious injury claims related to mental health. This marks a 3% increase from statistics five years ago. Of Covid-related mental health claims, 74% were made by women.

Discrimination in Tasmanian Workplaces

A new report into discrimination in Tasmanian workplaces has revealed that 27% of discrimination allegations concern people with a disability. The anti-discrimination commissioner, Sarah Bolt, has commented saying that discrimination and sexual harassment “touch the lives of too many” in Tasmania. Most incidents were made against private enterprises, with a notable increase from previous years. The incidents included people being asked to get out of their wheelchairs and others being asked to choose between having assistance dogs or support workers. The second most common form of discrimination reported was discrimination on the basis of race.

How To Stop Workplace Bullying

There has been an increase in bullying at work since the outbreak of COVID-19. Bullies typically show a lack of empathy, have few friends, enjoy exploiting power and control, suffer from low self-esteem and may have experienced bullying themselves. This article breaks down types of bullying as relational, physical, verbal and related to property. Bullying in virtual workplaces is increasingly evident since the pandemic and the shift to online working arrangements. Preventative measures include creating physical distances, practising empathy to diffuse the bully, documenting the incidents, practising self-care, filing a report and seeking assistance.