What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 8 – 14 January 2017

Actor Craig McLachlan Accused of Workplace Bullying and Sexual Harassment
Craig McLachlan, an award-winning Australian actor, has been accused of indecently assaulting, sexually harassing and bullying female colleagues in the 2014 production of the Rocky Horror Show. Of the actresses who brought forward the allegations, two have lodged complaints with the Victoria Police. Mr McLachlan denies the allegations, describing them as “baseless” and “made up”. One actress and former colleague, Erika Heynatz, described him as “really calculated and very manipulative, a predator”. Another, Angela Scundi, said that when she confronted him, he became enraged, a fact echoed in the statement of a former male cast member. At the time, the women complained to Gordon Frost Organisation, the production company, which did not act on the claims. Gordon Frost now holds that it has consistently provided a workplace “free of bullying or unlawful harassment”. The women say they have only recently come forward given the increasing number of sexual harassment allegations against Harvey Weinstein.

Australia Open to Icelandic Measures to Reduce Gender Pay Gap
The federal government has expressed its openness to reform to reduce Australia’s gender pay gap, following the highly publicised introduction of such measures in Iceland. The most striking aspect of the European country’s reform is the ability to fine any company with more than 25 members, which does not report its pay policy to the government. While the Australian government has recently begun implementing a series of reforms to address the gender pay gap, Kelly O’Dwyer, the Minister for Women, stated that it would additionally consider whether more were necessary. These could include looking into the new Icelandic legislation and considering its possible future application in Australia. Following Ms O’Dwyer’s statement, several prominent Australian companies, including Telstra, called for other organisations to improve their pay structures themselves to prevent unnecessary government intervention. Alex Badenoch of Telstra said, “all other Australian companies should first focus on what we can do ourselves… I’m not sure we should need government legislation to do it”.

One Fifth of Surgeons Resist Completing Module in Workplace Sexual Harassment and Bullying
Approximately 20% of surgeons in Australia have still not completed a mandatory online module in sexual harassment and workplace bullying, despite the December 2017 deadline having passed. President of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, Dr Batten, said the course was constructed with a view to “help recognise this problem [of workplace bullying and harassment]… and we would hope they would see the opportunity to try and up skill themselves in this area”. The deadline will be extended in an effort to capture the remaining surgeons to help them understand the need to “keep up with the change in culture”.