APPROACH: POLICY

BULLYING & SEXUAL HARASSMENT

BULLYING & SEXUAL HARASSMENT POLICY

Kamaruka Education Centre values everybody’s right to be treated with respect, dignity and courtesy. All members of the school community have a responsibility to ensure that the working and learning environment at Kamaruka Education Centre is free from bullying, harassment, sexual harassment and discrimination.

Kamaruka Education Centre aims to:

  • foster an environment where all members of the School Community are treated with dignity, courtesy and respect;

  • promote appropriate standards of conduct at all times

  • implement training and awareness-raising strategies to ensure that everyone knows their rights and responsibilities; and

  • where necessary encourage reporting of inappropriate behaviour and provide an effective procedure for resolving complaints in a sensitive, fair and timely manner and as confidentially as possible.

This Policy sets out what constitutes discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment and bullying and what you can do if you experience these things. It also details the complaints procedure, which Kamaruka Education Centre has implemented to ensure that any form of discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment or bullying is dealt with promptly, confidentially and impartially.

All employees have a responsibility to treat each other fairly and with respect. Individual employees must also ensure that they do not discriminate against, harass, sexually harass or bully other members of staff.

Any reports of discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment or bullying will be treated seriously and sympathetically by the School. Disciplinary action may be taken against anyone found to be guilty of discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment or bullying.

1. Legislation
Both Federal and State legislation is relevant to the concepts discussed in this policy.
This legislation includes:

  • Federal:
    Disability Discrimination Act 1992
    Racial Discrimination Act 1975
    Sex Discrimination Act 1984
    Workplace Relations Act 1996
    Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act 1996
    Age Discrimination Act 2004
    Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act 1999

  • Victorian:
    Equal Opportunity Act 1995
    Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001
    Occupational Health and Safety Act 1995

2. Discrimination
It is unlawful to discriminate against or harass a person in employment (or in the provision of goods and services) on the basis of any of the following attributes or personal characteristics:

  • age

  • disability or impairment (physical, intellectual, mental or psychiatric);

  • race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin;

  • religious belief or activity;

  • sex;

  • gender identity;

  • transgender or transsexual status;

  • lawful sexual activity/sexual orientation;

  • family, marital, parental or carer status;

  • physical features;

  • political opinion, belief or activity;

  • industrial activity or membership of an industrial association;

  • pregnancy or potential pregnancy;

  • breast feeding;

  • medical record;

  • criminal record;

  • employment activity; and

  • personal association with a person who is identified by reference to any of the above attributes.

Discrimination is treating a person with an identified attribute or personal characteristic less favourably than a person who does not have the attribute or characteristic, who is otherwise in the same or similar circumstances. Discrimination can be either direct or indirect.

Direct Discrimination
Direct discrimination is treating, or proposing to treat, a person less favourably on the basis of an attribute or personal characteristic of the person which is covered by equal opportunity law, regardless of the discriminator’s motive and whether they are aware of the discrimination or consider the treatment to be less favourable.

Indirect Discrimination
Indirect discrimination is unreasonably imposing, or intending to impose, on a person with an attribute or characteristic covered by equal opportunity law a requirement, condition or practice that can only be complied with by a higher proportion of people without the attribute or personal characteristic.
Awareness of the discrimination is irrelevant. Indirect discrimination can occur when a requirement, condition or practice, which appears to be neutral, in fact has a disproportionately negative impact on a particular group.

Family Responsibilities
The Equal Opportunity Act (Vic) 1995 (the Act) makes it unlawful for the school to unreasonably refuse to accommodate an employee’s parental or carer responsibilities, in relation to their work arrangements either when offering employment or during the course of employment.

In considering a request from an employee and determining whether a refusal is reasonable in the circumstances the following factors should be considered:

  • the nature of the employee’s work and parental or carer responsibilities;

  • the nature and cost of arrangements required for an employee to fulfil their parental or carer responsibilities;

  • the financial circumstances of the school;

  • the size and nature of the workplace and the employer’s business;

  • the effect of flexible work arrangements on the workplace, including the financial impact on the school;

  • the consequences for the school of having the flexible work arrangements; and

  • the consequences for the employee of not having the flexible work arrangements.

A request for flexible work arrangements will be assessed individually, based on the unique facts and circumstances of each request.

The principal must not refuse any request for flexible working arrangements where the request is related to disability, family responsibilities or other protected attribute without having first discussed the matter with the applicant and with a member of the Kamaruka Education Centre Advisory Committee

3. Harassment
Harassment is a form of discrimination. Harassment is unwelcome and unwanted conduct based on one of the attributes listed above that causes a person to be offended, humiliated or intimidated.The reasonable person test applies. That is, would a reasonable person, given all the circumstances, have anticipated that the behaviour would be found offensive, humiliating or intimidating.

4. Sexual Harassment
A person sexually harasses another if he or she:

  • makes an unwelcome sexual advance;

  • makes a request for sexual favours; or

  • engages in any other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature; in circumstances in which a reasonable person, aware of all of the circumstances, would have anticipated that the conduct would cause offence, humiliation or intimidation.

Sexual harassment is unwelcome, uninvited conduct that is offensive from the viewpoint of the person harassed, regardless of any innocent intent on the part of the offender.

It is not behaviour that is based on mutual attraction between people or friends.

Sexual harassment may occur in a single incident or series of incidents.

Types of sexual harassment

Sexual harassment can take many forms and can be physical, verbal or written. It is not just the obvious harassment of unwelcome physical behaviour such as inappropriate touching, patting, brushing up against someone or offensive gesturing. Sexual harassment can either be direct or indirect.

Sexual harassment takes a variety of forms, including:

  • Sexual or suggestive remarks

  • Sexual propositions or requests for dates

  • Repeated questions about a person’s private life

  • Sexual jokes and innuendo

  • Physical contact such as touching, deliberate brushing up against a person, hugging etc. against a person’s will

  • Offensive telephone calls, reading matter, email, screen savers, pictures, calendars etc.

  • Suggestive looks or leers

  • Sexually explicit conversations

5. Bullying

Bullying is repeated, unreasonable behaviour directed towards an employee that creates a risk to health and safety.

Unreasonable behaviour is behavior that a reasonable person, having regard to all the circumstances, would expect to victimise, humiliate, undermine or threaten another.

Behaviour includes: actions of individuals or a group, and may involve using a system of work as a means of victimising, humiliating, undermining or threatening.

Risk to health and safety includes risk to the mental or physical health of the employee.

Unacceptable behaviour makes the workplace uncomfortable, unpleasant and often unsafe. The following types of behaviour, where repeated or occurring as part of a pattern of behaviour, could be considered bullying:

  1. verbal abuse

  2. excluding or isolating employees

  3. psychological harassment

  4. intimidation

  5. assigning meaningless tasks unrelated to the job

  6. giving employees impossible assignments

  7. deliberately changed work rosters to inconvenience particular employees

  8. deliberately withholding information vital for effective work performance

The list is not exhaustive. Other types of behaviour may also constitute bullying. Bullying is usually not a once off incident but could be if the once off incident is sufficiently serious.

Bullying does not include reasonable and legitimate actions of Kamaruka Education Centre in managing an employee’s performance, managing or altering an employee’s workload, reporting structure or duties or counselling an employee.

6. What can you do if you feel that you are being discriminated against, harassed, sexually harassed or bullied?

If you feel you have been discriminated against, harassed or bullied, you should not ignore it. You should keep notes on all instances of discrimination, harassment or bullying – dates, times, places, witnesses (if any), together with what you said, did or felt.

If you feel comfortable doing so, then you may wish to address the issue with the person concerned and request that the behaviour ceases. If you do not feel comfortable confronting the person and the behaviour continues, then you should go to the principal or a member of Kamaruka Education Centre’s Committee of Management and discuss your complaint.

All complaints of discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment or bullying will be dealt with in accordance with Kamaruka Education Centre’s procedure, which is set out below. Kamaruka Education Centre’s goal is to resolve all issues and complaints in-house where possible. However, you can seek the assistance of an outside agency, at any stage, if you wish.

7. What should you do if you consider you have witnessed bullying?

You should report the matter to the principal or a member of Kamaruka Education Centre’s Advisory Committee who is required to act in accordance with the school’s procedure which is set out below.

8. Procedures for responding to Student Bullying and Harassment

There are a number of ways to respond to an incident once it has been reported, and the procedure used, is dependant on the particular student’s history.

In the first instance, a non-punitive approach will be adopted. The principal will work closely with the student to develop empathy for the student being bullied or harassed, and will identify strategies to ensure that the bullying stops.

The student, who is the target of such bullying or harassment, will be offered support and guidance through a meeting with the principal and/or other staff member.

A repeat offence will invoke the punitive approach, which involves the establishment of clear rules and expectations about appropriate behaviours, and graduated consequences for the harassment or bullying behaviour. A meeting with parents/guardians will consider the future enrolment of the student and the most appropriate consequence, which may include professional counselling.

9. Whole-school Approach to Manage Bullying & Harassment

Expectations of Students

Students who experience bullying or harassment are encouraged to respond in the following ways:

  • Be aware of their right to a safe and caring environment at school.

  • If possible, students should try to ignore the bully and calmly remove themselves from the situation.

  • Tell the person that their behaviour is offensive; they may not know.

  • If these approaches do not work, students should talk to someone with whom they feel comfortable.

Students who witness incidents of bullying or harassment are encouraged to respond in the following ways:

  • Treat everyone with courtesy and respect.

  • Avoid involving themselves in behaviours which may hurt or hard others in any way.

  • Provide comfort and support and protection to the person who has been bullied.

  • Where appropriate, inform the bully that their behaviour is unacceptable.

  • Encourage the person being bullied or harassed to seek adult assistance.

  • Report the incident themselves to a teacher.

Expectations of Staff

  • Create learning environments that are safe, caring and nurturing.

  • Act as role models, in both word and action.

  • Identify and respond to signs of distress that may indicate that a student is being bullied or harassed.

  • Educate students about the differences between conflict, harassment and bullying.

  • Respond appropriately and sensitively.

  • Intervene in situations where bullying is directly observed.

  • Encourage positive social interactions at the individual, group and classroom level.

  • Providing curriculum material and discussion that focuses on developing appropriate social skills, values and behaviours.

All policy documents are accessible on the Kamaruka website and are available for staff to view in each staff room. Copies are provided for parents with enrolment forms.

Reviewed, modified and approved by the Kamaruka Education Centre’s Advisory Committee as recorded in the minutes of the meeting held on this 5th day of February 2009