What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 8 June 2020 – 14 June 2020

First Legal Service for Transgender People Set up

The Roberta Perkins Law Project, Australia’s first trans-led legal service for trans and gender diverse people already has a sizeable client base, with people seeking advice over the government’s proposed religious discrimination legislation. Named in honour of the transgender and sex worker legal advocate who died in 2018, the Roberta Perkins Project is a partnership between the St Kilda Legal Service and Transgender Victoria. The Project has received pilot funding from the City of Melbourne and operates on a pro bono basis to provide free legal services for trans and gender diverse people based in Victoria. Sam Elkin, a Lawyer with the Project, told Guardian Australia that since its launch in 2019, the Project has dealt with various issues relating to the federal government’s draft religious discrimination bill. ‘I think the religious discrimination bill debate over the last 12 months has certainly created a lot of fear and confusion about what the law currently is,’ Elkin said. ‘We’ve had issues with people making complaints around people being told they’ll be sacked if they come into work in feminine clothing … and we have people who have been terminated in their employment after asking their employer to use gender-neutral pronouns or change the name on their name badge,’ he continued. These inquiries come even before the proposed religious freedom bill has reached parliament. Indeed, the Morrison government has yet to indicate when it will introduce the legislation that will effectively allow religious organisations to discriminate against people, including LGBTIQ employees, based on their religious beliefs. The second consultation period for the draft legislation concluded in January of this year. However, given the demands of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s likely the Government’s religious freedom agenda will be sidelined for the foreseeable future. Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, confirmed this last month by saying Cabinet had not considered the legislation for some time because of the crisis.

Uni of NSW Assessed as ‘Gold Status’ Employer for LGBTIQ+ Inclusion Practices

A recent assessment has named The University of New South Wales (UNSW) a gold status employer in recognition of its LGBTIQ+ inclusion practices. The ranking status is given under the Australian Workplace Equality Index (AWEI). The AWEI is a rigorous benchmark which assesses LGBTIQ+ inclusion initiatives in Australian workplaces. More than 200 employers across Australia participated in the Index last year, including a mix of public, private, higher education and not-for-profit employers. This year, the Index included more rigorous standards which raised the bar for participating organisations and placed more emphasis on areas such as policy, data collection practices, community engagement and inclusive leadership. For the first year, UNSW has joined the ranks of Top 3 performing employers in LGBTIQ+ inclusion. In achieving the gold-status, the Index recognised UNSW’s commitment to the inclusion of gender, sex and sexuality diverse (LGBTIQ+) staff. Professor Eileen Baldry, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Equity, Diversity & Inclusion, said she is thrilled by UNSW’s from bronze status to gold status within one year. ‘Together with the LGBTIQ+ community and Allies, we will continue our journey to ensure each individual feels accepted for who they are,’ she said. ‘Especially during such challenging and uncertain times, it is more important than ever that people can work and study without fear of harassment, bullying or discrimination and have the freedom to be themselves at UNSW and in society more broadly,’ she added. Professor Baldry said the award recognises UNSW’s Dr Bridget Haire push for cultural and systematic change at the University. ‘Our ranking in the AWEI has shown how investment in LGBTIQ+ pays dividends for the University, making it a more attractive place to work and to study,’ said Dr Haire. ‘We can be very proud of the investment that we have made as a university community to achieve this excellent result. UNSW has demonstrated commitment to providing and maintaining a safe and inclusive environment for people who belong to sexuality and gender minorities.’