What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 9 – 15 October 2017

Surgeons Resist Bullying Education Module
Forty per cent of surgeons are resisting completing a training module for bullying and harassment. In 2015 the Royal Australian College of Surgeons implemented an action plan in response to criticism that it was an “Anglo-Saxon boys’ club”. A core component of their plan is the Operating With Respect training module, a 45-minute online course. However, approximately 1000 surgeons, who deny that there is a toxic culture at all, have yet to complete the module before the December 31 deadline. Senior surgeon, Dr Gabrielle McMullin said that, “[a] lot of people are extremely annoyed about the module and completely dismiss the idea that it’s necessary at all”. According to Cathy Ferguson, the Vice President of the College, the organisation was committed to changing the bullying and harassment that pervaded the profession, and “creating a culture where people are not scared to come forward because of potential harm to their training”.

Australia Post Closes their Gender Pay Gap
Australia Post has reduced the average pay difference between the sexes to 0, effectively closing its gender pay gap. This figure, based on average full-time earnings as at March 2017, was reduced from the 2016 figure of 1.4%. The achievement, which the Workplace Gender Equality Agency described as an “extraordinary feat”, comes two years after the launch of the organisation’s gender action plan. As part of this plan, 400 women partook in career development programs and personal details were de-identified in job application processes to remove unconscious bias. Currently, women comprise the majority of postal managers, at 53.6%, and the proportion of women executives has increased to 37.7% from 35.4%. Five out of the nine directors of the board are set to be women.

Australasian College for Emergency Medicine Cleared of Racial Discrimination in Testing
A specially formed expert advisory group has cleared the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine of racial discrimination in its testing of candidates. The investigation came as a result of a fall in the pass rate of doctors, trained in non-caucasian countries, from 90% in 2013 to 7% in 2016. In comparison, the pass rate of doctors trained in English speaking countries remained stable across the same period. While an interim report suggested the 2016 introduction of a new exam structure had “unintentionally given rise to systemic racial discrimination”, this was reversed in the advisory group’s final report. Ultimately, the divergence in pass rate figures was held to be a “true difference in performance”. However, the review did find that the transition to a new testing structure lacked clarity and support, and recommended its overhaul. College President, Tony Lawler, has apologised to those negatively impacted.