The University is committed to providing “…a safe and healthy workplace and learning environment that is free from bullying and unlawful harassment and discrimination”. The details of this can be found in their Student Charter and other associated policies.
What is Unlawful Harassment?
The University defines unlawful harassment as any type of behaviour that occurs when a person, or a group of people, is intimidated, insulted or humiliated because of one or more characteristics. Unlawful harassment can arise as the result of a single incident as well as repeated incidents.
Harassment can occur through behaviour such as:
- telling jokes about particular racial groups;
- sending explicit or sexually suggestive emails or texts;
- displaying offensive or pornographic websites or screen savers;
- making derogatory comments or taunts about someone’s race or religion, gender or sexual orientation;
- asking intrusive questions about someone’s personal life, including their sex life; or
- creating a hostile working environment, for example, where the display of pornographic materials or crude conversations, innuendo or offensive jokes are part of the accepted culture.
Some types of harassment, such as sexual harassment and other forms of physical assault and/or stalking, are also illegal under criminal law. These types of harassment may result in criminal prosecution.
Other types of harassment may not be ‘unlawful’ under anti-discrimination legislation, but may nonetheless contravene the University’s Student Charter 2020, Bullying, Harassment and Discrimination Prevention Policy 2015; and the Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Policy 2018.
What is Unlawful Direct and Indirect Discrimination?
The University’s policy defines both direct and indirect unlawful discrimination.
Unlawful direct discrimination occurs when a person, or a group of people, is treated less favourably than another person or group, because of one or more characteristics. Direct discrimination can also occur if assumptions are made which result in a person or group being treated differently on the basis of one or more characteristics.
Indirect discrimination occurs when there is a rule or requirement that disadvantages one group more than another on the basis of one or more characteristics, unless it can be shown that the particular rule or requirement is reasonable in all the circumstances or is required to perform the inherent requirements of the job.
What is stalking?
The Crimes Act says tha “stalking includes the following of a person about or the watching or frequenting of the vicinity of, or an approach to, a person’s place of residence, business or work or any place that a person frequents for the purposes of any social or leisure activity”. This may be by another student, staff member, or someone not involved in the university community.
What should you do?
If you think you are being discriminated against or harassed, make detailed notes about dates and times of the incidents, noting any potential witnesses. Call 1800RESPECT for confidential information, counselling and support, or talk to an SRC caseworker for information on how to make a complaint, what possible outcomes there are, and how to manage any impact this may be having on your studies. Remember that a caseworker will not force you to take any action you don’t want to take. You can also speak to a specialist University Student Liaison Officer.
If you are being stalked you can report this to University Security or the Police. Your safety is an immediate concern. Contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or call to make an appointment on 9660 5222.