- 1 Policy Statement
- 2 Procedures
- 2.1 Forms of discrimination
- 2.2 Forms of harassment
- 2.3 Forms of workplace harassment
- 2.4 What discrimination and harassment is not
- 2.5 Responsibility for the eradication of discrimination and harassment
- 2.6 Appointment of harassment contact officers
- 2.7 Role and responsibilities of harassment contact officers
- 2.8 Record keeping and file management
- 2.9 Managing complaints
- 2.10 Disciplinary action
- 2.11 Frivolous and vexatious complaints
- 2.12 How to resolve issues of discrimination and harassment
- 3 References
- 4 Definitions
- 5 Appendix 1 - Explanation of terms and background information
- 6 Other Policy Information
Scope and Application:
The University of Southern Queensland is actively committed to protecting the rights of both students and employees to achieve their full potential in an environment which values and affirms diversity and is free from discrimination, harassment, victimisation and vilification. The University will take all reasonable steps to ensure that employees and students will be treated fairly and with dignity and respect whilst working or studying at the University.
As outlined in the Code of Conduct and the Student Charter of Rights and Responsibilities, individuals are responsible for making themselves aware of and adhering to University policy on all forms of discrimination and harassment.
Discrimination and harassment will not be tolerated at the University of Southern Queensland under any circumstances and may in fact be unlawful under State or Commonwealth law.
(Approved by Council, June 2007).
religious belief or activity
political belief or activity
trade union activity
lawful sexual activity
or an association with, or relation to, a person identified on the basis of any of the above attributes.
For an explanation of these terms, see Appendix 1.
Discrimination can either be direct or indirect.
Direct discrimination takes place when an individual is disadvantaged or treated less favourably than another person. An example of direct discrimination is failing to employ someone because he or she is in a wheelchair.
Indirect discrimination happens when a practice or policy appears to be fair because it treats everyone the same way but actually disadvantages people from a particular group. An example of indirect discrimination is requiring all people who apply for a certain job to pass a written grammar test, even though being able to write in English is not necessary for the job. This test might exclude more people whose first language is not English.
Under federal and state legislation, it is unlawful to harass someone based on any of the attributes specified under the anti-discrimination or human rights legislation. Below are some examples of behaviours that harassment can take under particular attributes, however this is not an exhaustive list.
Sexual harassment: Sexual harassment occurs when a person is subjected to unwanted sexual conduct and which makes a person feel offended, humiliated and/or intimidated where that reaction is reasonable in the circumstances. Sexual harassment can take various forms such as:
Unwelcome touching, hugging or kissing; staring or leering or suggestive comments; sending sexual material online or via email
Unwanted invitations to go out on dates or requests for sex; insults and taunts based on a persons sex; and
Behaviour which would also be an offence under the criminal law, such as physical assault, indecent exposure, sexual assault, stalking or obscene communications.
Disability harassment: Under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, it is unlawful to harass someone based on their disability or based upon a relative or associate having a disability. Their disability may be in the past, the present or the future. Examples include:
Making comments or using actions about a person's disability which are insulting or humiliating, such as suggestive pictures, jokes or computer screensavers;
Making comments or using actions which create a hostile environment;
Using overbearing or abusive behaviour with a person with an intellectual disability.
Racial harassment: Is any behaviour which is reasonably likely to ‘offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate' and can consist of behaviour which negatively comments on a person's race, colour, nationality, accent or ethnic origin. Examples include:
Racially oriented ridicule, e.g. derogatory reference to physical features, skin colour or cultural and religious observances or imitating someone's accent;
Displaying or circulating racist cartoons or literature or writing racist graffiti;
Isolation or segregation on the basis of race or ethnicity wearing racist symbols (such as badges) or clothing with racist slogans in public.
Sexuality: Harassment under the grounds of sexuality covers those who are heterosexual, lesbian, gay or bi-sexual. Vilification is also prohibited on the basis of sexuality or gender identity. Examples include:
Using derogatory language on the phone, in person or in online discussions to describe a person based on their sexuality or their sexual preference;
Using posters in public places to abuse people because of their sexuality;
Websites inciting hatred of people who are gay or lesbian, or deriding people on the basis of their sexuality in public meetings.
Gender-based harassment: is defined as a person who identifies as a member of the opposite sex by living or wanting to live as someone of that sex, or a person of indeterminate sex, who seeks to live as a member of a particular sex. It can include behaviour such as:
Telling someone to use a toilet that doesn't fit with that person's gender self-identity;
Derogatory language such as referring to someone as "it", remarks, jokes or practical jokes;
Employees in the reception area of a business discussing a person and making derogatory comments and encouraging members of the public to join in.
Age-based harassment: consists of negative references resulting from stereotypes of what people are capable of doing at a particular age. It may include:
Derogatory remarks about a person's age, mental and physical capabilities and appearance;
Patronising or humiliating someone because of their age;
Isolation or segregation based on someone's age;
Circulating ageist cartoons or literature, displaying offensive age related material on walls, online or on computer screens.
Workplace harassment or bullying as described under the Workplace Health and Safety Act 1995 may include:
physical or verbal abuse;
excluding or isolating a person from normal work interaction, training and development or career opportunities, unreasonable "administrative sanctions" eg, undue delay in processing applications for training, leave or payment of wages;
psychological harassment such as unexplained job changes and meaningless tasks, assigning tasks beyond a person's skills, failure to give credit where due;
intimidation – for example using unwarranted threats of disciplinary action;
repeated threats of dismissal or other severe punishment for no reason;
giving a person an impossible job or deadline; sabotaging someone's work by deliberately withholding vital information or resources; hiding documents or equipment, not passing on messages, or creating a situation of ‘under-work' with a feeling of uselessness;
maliciously excluding or isolating a person from work activities;
unacceptable aggressive manner from the manager / supervisor;
insulting messages or gestures, such as leaving offensive messages on email or on the telephone;
inappropriate use of discussion boards and interactive chat rooms;
humiliating a person through gestures, by using sarcasm, belittling someone's opinion, patronising or intimidating remarks;
spreading misinformation or malicious rumours;
constant criticism or insults;
manipulating the impression of others to split the work group into taking sides;
displaying written or pictorial material which may degrade or offend certain employees;
spreading gossip or false, malicious rumours about a person with an intent to cause that person harm.
Managers have responsibilities to manage and supervise their employees, particularly with regard to unsatisfactory performance of duties. Lecturers and supervisors have responsibilities to provide academic guidance and advice to students. Such comment and advice may include critical statements and feedback along with monitoring and review of work and academic performance. The act of correcting employees and students, pointing out areas for improvement, invoking performance counselling or misconduct procedures does not in itself constitute harassment. Managers, supervisors and lecturers have a responsibility to establish and maintain a workplace free from harassment by offering constructive and legitimate advice and comment in a way that does not demean or humiliate either employees or students.
The University of Southern Queensland will take all reasonable steps to prevent or minimise unlawful discrimination, harassment, victimisation and vilification against employees or students in the workplace. It will implement and monitor specific policies, procedures and training programs to help minimise the scope and impact of discriminatory attitudes and practices in the workplace in order to reduce its legal liability.
Managers, supervisors and lecturers have a particular responsibility to:
ensure that their workplace or learning environment both on-campus and online, is free from discrimination and harassment;
inform all employees and students clearly of what is and is not acceptable behaviour and advise that if claims of discrimination, harassment, victimisation or vilification are substantiated, then disciplinary procedures may be invoked;
inform employees and students of the names of designated Harassment Contact Officers to resolve informal complaints and that support is offered by Staff Equity and Diversity (Human Resources) and Student Services to people experiencing discrimination, harassment, vilification or victimisation;
inform employees and students who experience discrimination and harassment of their rights and provide them with the appropriate policy and procedures to resolve their concerns;
ensure that the employee or student not be made to feel that they should take certain action, or no action because of their responsibility to employees or other students;
ensure that employees and students who make a complaint are not victimised for doing so and respect their privacy and confidentiality at all times;
ensure that the policies and procedures in relation to the resolution of a grievance/complaint are followed as written;
seek appropriate assistance from Staff Equity and Diversity (Human Resources) or the Student Equity Office if required.
Individual employees and students have a responsibility not to participate in discriminatory, harassing or victimising behaviour within the workplace and to behave in a respectful, tolerant and equitable manner to all members of the University community.
Staff Equity and Diversity (Human Resources) in conjunction with the Student Equity Office are responsible for:
education and training campaigns within USQ to eliminate discrimination and harassment;
providing advice to managers and supervisors on discrimination and harassment;
providing advice to employees on discrimination and harassment;
providing or arranging training, support and in-service for Harassment Contact Officers;
nominating external Mediators and Investigators to the Chief Operating Officer or Executive Director, Human Resources for inclusion on the approved list of external Mediators and Investigators;
securely archiving all documentation pertaining to complaints according to the University policy on record keeping and storage;
maintaining separate statistics in a confidential data base of complaints;
providing regular statistical reports to the Social Justice Committee, Chief Operating Officer and the Vice-Chancellor;
briefing the Vice-Chancellor on issues arising from the reports.
The Student Equity Office will:
in collaboration with Staff Equity and Diversity (Human Resources) develop and implement education and training campaigns within USQ to eliminate discrimination and harassment;
provide advice to students on discrimination and harassment;
support Staff Equity and Diversity (Human Resources) in their development and provision of training and in-services for Contact Officers;
securely archive all documentation pertaining to complaints relating to student grievances on harassment and discrimination according to the University policy on record keeping and storage;
maintain a confidential database of complaints;
provide regular statistical reports to Staff Equity and Diversity (Human Resources), Social Justice Committee, Chief Operating Officer and Vice-Chancellor;
brief the Vice-Chancellor on issues arising from the reports.
The relevant University sections in consultation with Staff Equity and Diversity (Human Resources) have the responsibility to:
develop cross-cultural awareness and sensitivity among professional and academic employees and students;
encourage giving due recognition to the history and experiences of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples of Australia and of ethnic groups;
developing training and resources to assist employees and students in dealing with racist incidents;
encourage sensitivity by academic employees and students to all teaching, practices and materials with a view to the elimination of racist content.
The University of Southern Queensland will appoint at least fifteen (15) Harassment Contact Officers, equitably distributed across all three campuses, to ensure all University students and employees from all operational areas have ready access to an Officer. At least half of these appointees will be female and at least two appointees will be of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent.
Harassment Contact Officers are appointed by the Vice-Chancellor, on the advice of Staff Equity and Diversity (Human Resources) after consultation with the Social Justice Committee, Student Equity Office and Student Guild Advocates, for a term of up to three years.
Harassment Contact Officers must undergo a formal training program supplemented by regular in-service which covers all forms of discrimination and harassment covered by the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991, relevant legislation and procedures, interviewing techniques appropriate to alleged discrimination or harassment and options for addressing discrimination and harassment. Staff Equity and Diversity (Human Resources) will provide continuing support and advice and convene regular meetings of the Harassment Contact Officers to discuss the operation of the procedures and supplement their training by the provision of regular in-service.
The Vice-Chancellor may, after receiving advice from Staff Equity and Diversity (Human Resources) or the Student Equity Office, cancel the appointment of a Harassment Contact Officer.
Harassment contact officers will:
act as an initial point of contact for employees and students with enquiries about any form of discrimination and harassment;
assist the employee or student to establish whether discrimination or harassment has occurred;
provide information and support, not counselling, about the options available to them;
refer the employee or student to the Student Services counsellors or to external services if required;
support the employee or student through the initial stages of a complaint;
provide information on the employee or student's rights under the relevant legislation, including the right to complain to a relevant external body;
assess the employee or students need for protection from further harassment and/or intimidation or pressure to change or withdraw their complaint and take appropriate action;
assure the employee or student of their entitlement to protection from victimisation or retaliation;
upon request by the employee or student, forward a student complaint to the Student Equity Office or an employee complaint to Staff Equity and Diversity (Human Resources);
follow-up the employee or student within a reasonable timeframe after conclusion of the case to review the outcome;
protect the privacy and confidentiality of the employee or student at all times;
undertake awareness sessions and disseminate materials and information to employees and students;
maintain and forward student related statistical reports and other records to the Student Equity Office and employee related statistical reports and other records to the Equity Office as required.
Where the complaint involves offences under the Criminal Code such as sexual assault, rape, indecent exposure, assault, stalking or obscene communication which has occurred on University property, or whilst engaged in University related activity which may be off-campus, the student or employee, will be informed of their right to report the matter to police and will be provided with information on the nearest sexual assault service. The complaint will be immediately forwarded by the Harassment Contact Officer to Staff Equity and Diversity (Human Resources) or Student Equity Office for actioning.
The University is committed to maintaining the privacy of personal information. All personal information collected under the Anti-Discrimination and Freedom from Harassment Policy will be held and used in accordance with the University's .
Employees or students should be informed that:
Harassment Contact Officers will keep confidential original notes and other working papers created or used in relation to inquiries or complaints on a file. This file will be marked Strictly Confidential and stored in locked cabinets to which only Harassment Contact Officers have access;
Notes kept on files are the property of the University and as such are subject to privacy legislation;
Notes are to be kept only in hard copy format and not on computer hard drive or on disks which can be removed from the University;
Employees or students have the right to access their file on request in accordance with the provisions of privacy legislation;
Harassment Contact Officers are encouraged to keep notes to a minimum stating only facts and relevant details as described by the employee or student. Harassment Contact Officers should record the outcome of each interview and where appropriate have the employee or student initial these as a correct record. The outcome recorded could include the employee or student's preferred course of action (if any) and any undertaking the Harassment Contact Officer makes to them.
Any additional follow up notes or subsequent contacts with the employee or student should be recorded in the same way;
These files will be kept by the Contact Officers for 90 days after which employee files will be provided to Staff Equity and Diversity (Human Resources) for locked storage for a period of three years and student files provided to the Manager, Student Equity, for locked storage for a period of three years.
Complaints of harassment and discrimination will be treated seriously by the University and will be managed promptly in a thorough and confidential manner. The principle of natural justice will apply and will guide the application of this policy and associated procedures.
The complaint resolution process will be carried out in good faith and complaints that are frivolous, vexatious, misconceived or lacking in substance will be rejected if a preliminary investigation of the facts indicates this. The University may initiate disciplinary procedure investigations immediately in response to allegations of conduct or behaviour that may be considered misconduct.
Employees or students wishing to lodge a formal complaint of discrimination and/or harassment against a student of the University are referred to the Student Equity Office in the first instance.
Where an employee or student has raised discrimination and harassment concerns but does not wish to lodge a formal complaint, the University has a responsibility to take these matters seriously and may be obligated to investigate these concerns further where they are considered to be of a serious nature and have the capacity to impact on an employee or student’s health and safety, or another employee or student’s health and safety.
Students who require assistance to make a formal complaint to the Vice-Chancellor or an external third party will be supported by a Student Guild Officer to do so.
A Student Guild Officer who provides this assistance may not also be part of an investigative team, or involved in initiating disciplinary action; or liaise directly with the Anti-Discrimination Commission if a formal complaint has been lodged under the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 or Anti-Discrimination Act 1991, in their role as either Harassment Contact Officer or Student Guild Officer.
Where discrimination or harassment is found to have occurred, this may be considered as misconduct or serious misconduct and disciplinary action may be commenced against the person against whom the findings were made.
Where disciplinary action is recommended against an employee the Executive Director, Human Resources will advise the Vice-Chancellor. The Vice-Chancellor will determine whether or not disciplinary action should be commenced against the person(s) subject to the findings.
The Vice-Chancellor will provide written advice of the decision to both the complainant and the respondent.
Where disciplinary action is recommended against a student, the Chief Operating Officer will advise the Vice-Chancellor. The Vice-Chancellor will determine whether or not disciplinary action should be commenced against the person(s) subject to the findings.
The Vice-Chancellor will provide written advice of the decision to both the complainant and the respondent.
A student found guilty of misconduct under the may lodge an appeal against that decision and/or the decision of the Vice-Chancellor in relation to penalties/restitution, if any. The process for lodging an appeal is contained within Part C of the .
Complaints which at any stage of an investigation are found to be unsubstantiated, misconceived, frivolous, vexatious or not unlawful by reason of a provision contained in legislation, or in breach of this policy, the University may, by notice in writing addressed to the complainant, dismiss the complaint.
Employees or students who deliberately make false or malicious complaints may be subjected to disciplinary action.
Employees and students seeking to resolve issues of discrimination and harassment can seek support and information initially from a Harassment Contact Officer.
ACT Work Cover, "Preventing workplace bullying: a guide for employers and employees", July 2004.
, "Discrimination in Education", 2003.
Department of Corrective Services, "Staff Administration – Managing Work-Related Bullying and Harassment", September 2004
Disability Standards for Education, 2005
Australian Human Rights Commission "Good practice, good business: Eliminating discrimination and harassment from your workplace".
Queensland Government, Department of Industrial Relations, "Prevention of Workplace Harassment Advisory Standard", 2004
Violence in the Workplace, Guide 2002
Definition (with examples if required)
Unlawful discrimination occurs when a person or a group of people are treated less favourably than another person or group because of race, colour, national or ethnic origin; gender or marital status; disability; religion or political beliefs; sexual preference; or some other central characteristic. Discrimination may occur when a person is denied the opportunity to participate freely and fully in normal day-to-day activities, for example being harassed in the workplace or being denied entry to public places and other facilities.
Unlawful harassment occurs when a person is made to feel intimidated, insulted or humiliated because of their race, colour, national or ethnic origin; sex; disability; sexual preference; or some other characteristic specified under anti-discrimination or human rights legislation. Harassment may include behaviour, comments or images which a reasonable person would consider to be offensive, humiliating, intimidating or threatening.
Sexual harassment is defined as any unwelcome sexual advance, unwelcome request for sexual favours or other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, which makes a person feel offended, humiliated and/or intimidated, or where a reasonable person would anticipate that reaction in the circumstances. Unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature includes making a statement of a sexual nature to a person, or in a person's presence, whether orally or in writing.
Examples of sexual harassment include staring, leering or unwelcome touching; suggestive comments or jokes in person or via email; sexually explicit pictures or posters; unwanted invitations to go out on dates; requests for sex; intrusive questions about a person's life or body, sexually explicit physical contact such as touching a person, brushing up against them, patting, pinching or hugging. Some types of sexual harassment may also be offences under criminal law. These include physical molestation or assault, indecent exposure, sexual assault, stalking and obscene communications.
Sexual harassment may occur:
(a) As a single incident or series of incidents;
Sexual harassment is not behaviour which is based on mutual attraction, friendship and respect. If the interaction is consensual, welcome and reciprocated it is not sexual harassment. The University recognises that sexual harassment is an abuse that can be experienced by either gender and regardless of the sexual orientation of the persons involved.
Harassment under the Disability Discrimination Act
The Disability Discrimination Act, 1992 prohibits harassment and victimisation of students and employees with disabilities, on the basis of disability, including;
(a) The need for individual strategies and adjustments for a student; and
The Act also prohibits harassment and victimisation of the associates of students and employees with disabilities, on the basis of disability.
For an explanation of the term ‘adjustments' please refer to Appendix 1.
Any person responsible for leading the activities of others. That is: academic staff in charge of classes, employees leading other work teams, or leaders of groups using or visiting University facilities.
Supervisors may also be individuals from the University who support students in their research. A Principal supervisor is a member of the University's academic staff who has prime responsibility for overseeing a candidate's progress including directing the candidate's academic work, for ensuring that the candidate submits reports and meets other administrative responsibilities.
An associate supervisor is responsible for assisting the principal supervisor and ensures the candidate has continuity of supervision if the principal supervisor is away. The associate supervisor may be external to the University, although all such appointments must be approved by the Higher Degrees Review and Admission Committee following recommendation by the Dean.
Mediation is a way of settling a dispute without legal action. It is a confidential meeting between people in conflict, with mediators present. Mediators are there to guide the discussion between the people in conflict so that they can work out an agreement which suits them all. Mediators remain neutral—they do not take sides, give advice, or pass judgement. The mediator tries to guide the discussion in a way that optimises parties' needs, takes feelings into account and reframes representations.
An individual appointed by the University to assist the complainant and respondent to negotiate a solution which is acceptable to both of them but not to determine what that solution will be. Mediators are trained to the standard required by the Dispute Resolution Centre in Mediation procedures relevant to discrimination and harassment.
The Workplace Health and Safety Act 1995 places obligations on employers at workplaces to ensure that employees and other persons are not exposed to risks to their health and safety arising out of the conduct of the employer's business or undertaking. As workplace harassment may harm the health and safety of employees and other persons, the employer's obligations include identifying and managing exposure to the risk of death, injury or illness created by workplace harassment. The University is a learning and teaching workplace therefore both students and employees are covered under the Workplace Health and Safety Act 1995.
Workplace harassment, or bullying is unreasonable behaviour that results in the less favourable treatment of a person or a group of persons, by another or others in the workplace. Unreasonable behaviour is behaviour that is offensive, humiliating, intimidating, degrading or threatening and which may cause distress to an individual. Workplace harassment can be demonstrated by indirect means, such as subtle intimidation or by direct, more obvious aggressive tactics. It is often a repetitive behaviour, meaning that it may occur in different ways over a period of time. It can occur between people in any direction within a workplace, for example laterally (between co-workers or students); upwards (an employee harassing a manager or a student harassing an academic or administration staff member) or downwards (a supervisor/lecturer harassing a student).
Workplace harassment is illegal under the Workplace Health and Safety Act 1995 and under Federal and State Anti-discrimination legislation.
Victimisation is any unfavourable treatment, or threats of unfavourable treatment against a person as a result of their actual or intended involvement in a complaint under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 or under any of these procedures. The involvement might include making a complaint, supplying information and producing documents to someone making a complaint or appearing as a witness in a proceeding under this Act. Unfavourable treatment may include adverse changes to their study or work environment, denial of access to resources, work opportunities or training, ignoring the person or lower assessment of student work. Victimisation is an offence under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991.
Vilification is the public incitement of hatred, serious contempt or severe ridicule of a person on the basis of the race, religion, sexuality or gender identity of a person or members of a group. It can take several forms including hate-speech, graffiti, websites and the distribution of propaganda or other forms of offensive literature. Vilification includes threatening physical harm to a person or their property or inciting others to threaten physical harm to a person or to their property. Vilification is an offence against the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991.
religious belief or activity
political belief or activity
trade union activity
lawful sexual activity
or an association with, or relation to, a person identified on the basis of any of the above attributes.
A person may be discriminated against because of their sex, for example if a man is refused treatment at a beauty salon because it is ‘only for girls'.
The new ground of relationship status includes same sex defacto partners. The change ensures that all de facto partners have similar legal rights and obligations as married spouses. Parental status includes people being refused jobs because they have children.
Racist attitudes and prejudices may exist in any community. Race has a broad meaning, and includes colour, descent or national or ethnic origin. Racism is the expression of attitudes or behaviour, based on an assumption of the superiority of one race or group of persons of one colour, ethnic origin or culture over another.
Discrimination may occur if a person or a group of people are treated less favourably than someone else because of their colour, descent or national or ethnic origin. This include discrimination on the basis of racial or cultural practices (including learning practices) or stereotypes and the exclusion of the knowledge or experience of Aboriginal peoples from discipline areas to which these are particularly relevant.
This ground will change from religion to religious belief or activity, to provide protection for those who hold or don't hold a religious belief, and for those who engage or don't engage in religious activity. It will also ensure that people who have no religious belief are covered by the law.
The law takes a very broad view of what impairment means. It includes a sight, speech or hearing condition, depression, the loss of a limb or if an aid is needed to help. It also covers conditions such as diabetes, a learning disability or any other condition. The Act provides protection whether a person was born with the impairment, whether it developed later or if someone assumes that it is there.
While the term ‘lawful sexual activity' is already an attribute under the Act, its meaning has changed. The new meaning of lawful sexual activity refers to lawfully employed sex workers, whether or not self employed.
Before the changes to the Act, discrimination on the ground of breastfeeding was unlawful only in the area of goods and services. The change makes discrimination unlawful across the full range of areas under the Act, in particular in the area of work. This change recognises the need for mothers who are breastfeeding to do so in most situations.
The ground of family responsibilities applies when a person needs to care for or support members of their immediate family. This ground will go beyond what's covered by the existing attributes of parental status and pregnancy. For example, it will be unlawful for an employer to treat someone less favourably because they need to look after their aged parents.
Gender identity is now included in the grounds covered by the Act. Gender identity is defined as a person who identifies as a member of the opposite sex by living or wanting to live as someone of that sex, or a person of indeterminate sex, who seeks to live as a member of a particular sex (see also changes to vilification provisions).
The ground of sexuality covers those who are heterosexual, lesbian, gay or bi-sexual. While in the past, people had to rely on the ground of lawful sexual activity to lodge a complaint, the new ground more accurately reflects sexual preference rather than sexual activity. This change provides much clearer protection for the lesbian and gay community.
Age discrimination is being treated unfairly because of how old you are. It may be unlawful depending on the circumstances. Unlawful discrimination on the basis of age can happen at work, school or college, in a shop or a restaurant, looking for accommodation, buying property, applying for credit, insurance or a loan, or dealing with tradespeople, businesses or state or local government.
Adjustments under the Disability Standards, 2005
For the purposes of the Standards, each of the following is an adjustment:
a measure or action (or a group of measures or actions) taken by an education provider that has the effect of assisting a student with a disability:
in relation to an admission or enrolment – to apply for the admission or enrolment; and
in relation to a course or program – to participate in the course or program; and
in relation to facilities or services – to use the facilities or services;
on the same basis as a student without a disability, and includes an aid, a facility, or a service that the student requires because of his or her disability.
For the purposes of the Standards, an adjustment is reasonable in relation to a student with a disability if it balances the interests of all parties affected.
In assessing whether a particular adjustment for a student is reasonable, regard should be had to all the relevant circumstances and interests including the following:
the student's disability
the views of the student or the student's associate
the effect of the adjustment on the student, including the effect on the student's:
ability to achieve learning outcomes; and
ability to participate in courses or programs; and
the effect of the proposed adjustment on anyone else affected, including the education provider, employees and other students;
the costs and benefits of making the adjustment.
A person who engages in aggressive behaviour intended to physically or psychologically hurt another person, is often referred to as a bully. Bullies usually exploit the power attributed to their position, status or skills in the workplace and both men and women can be the victims as well as the perpetrators of bullying behaviour. People who bully often believe that what they are doing is legitimate behaviour under the circumstances. Some may believe that it is a requirement of their position or an expectation of their employer. Others bully because they are insecure about their work and fear that those who are skilled and good at their job may show them up. Sometimes bullies seek more power or hide their own shortcomings behind aggressive behaviour. Even when not openly identified or reported, bullies are usually known within an organisation and there is a general reluctance to work with that person or in that section.
People engaged in bullying may be unwittingly supported by management in their behaviour as they appear to have a firm hold on their staff and get results. However these results are often short-lived and the individuals being bullied soon find that the cost of compliance is too great. The result can be payments for worker's compensation, employees taking extended or regular personal leave, and a high turnover rate of staff in that section.
Workplace harassment or bullying is usually a repetitive behaviour, designed to wear down the recipient who eventually feels hopeless, demeaned and inadequate. Some harassers instil significant fear in the people they target resulting in regular absences from work or study. Workplace harassers who have positional power over their victims are usually managers or people in authority who are willing to abuse this power. Harassers who use personal power over their victims rely on their influence or physical presence to bully those who are junior, equal or senior to them. This may occur in either direct or indirect ways. Direct methods of bullying include belittling a person in a group, spreading malicious rumours or lies about them, taking credit for their ideas or excluding them from conversations or relevant information.
Indirect forms of bullying may be very subtle and involve behaviours such as blocking or negatively influencing projects, reducing the other person's opportunities to express opinions; judging others' work in an unjust manner; openly dismissing the opinions of other employees or publicly questioning the other person's sense of judgement. It can also include threats to destroy someone's career, academic or work related outcomes by constantly undervaluing their effort or criticising their work.
People who harass others through bullying behaviour are often successful at this method because their intimidation silences their victims through fear. It is an extremely difficult situation to address as many employees and students fear that the repercussions by making the situation public will make matters worse and not better. In an academic situation, students fear that their work will be marked less favourably, that they may fail the course, or that they will be ostracized by their lecturer or supervisor so that they cannot get the help they need to pass the course. In other cases there is often a general fear that the victim will not be believed and no action will occur, leaving them worse off than before. Sometimes bullying can be hard to prove, however if not addressed at all, the problem is not likely to go away.
The resultant stress from withstanding the harassment can cause:
Increased personal leave
Changes to normal behaviour by victims
Changes to eating habits
Alcohol or drug abuse or misuse
Deterioration in normal work performance
Depression and other mental health issues
Fear of working in some situations or returning to work after an absence
Increase turnover of employees
Increased withdrawal of students from a course
The need for compensation for stress related illnesses
Employees and students should be encouraged to report all instances of bullying behaviour, threats of violence and violent acts involving themselves, using the Discrimination and Harassment Policy and associated resolution procedures. By not addressing workplace harassment when and as it occurs, the problem cannot be resolved and other people may be subjected to conduct which may be unlawful and will not be tolerated by the University on any level.
All employees are encouraged to undertake communication, conflict resolution and/or management development training programs offered by the University's Professional Development Program. Senior managers are asked to identify such behaviour amongst those that they supervise and provide them with an opportunity to change their behaviour through performance counselling.
Students are reminded that workplace harassment applies equally to situations where email, telephone or written responses are provided to other students or employees. Bullying behaviour occurring in on-line environments including the use of email groups, online discussion forums or to personal email addresses by individuals or by groups of students will not be tolerated by the University and may result in disciplinary action under the University of Southern Queensland Statute No.3 (Student Discipline) 1999, Section 5 Misconduct.
Peak Approval Authority:
Related Legislation / guidelines:
Strategic Plan/Goal & Objectives:
Supporting documents, forms:
Associated USQ policies:
Next Review Date*:
Expiry Date of Policy*:
Level of Delegation
Vice-Chancellor or Chief Operating Officer
Chief Operating Officer
Ensure student related matters proceed in accordance with other relevant policies and timeframes; and to provide procedure and process recommendations to the Vice-Chancellor
Executive Director, Human Resources
Ensure employee related matters proceed in accordance with other relevant policies and timeframes; and to provide procedure and process recommendations to the Vice-Chancellor
Next Review Date*: