The University of Queensland is committed to developing and maintaining an inclusive and harmonious workplace for all people that is free from discrimination, harassment and bullying. Discrimination, harassment and bullying will not be tolerated at The University of Queensland under any circumstances, and may be unlawful under State or Commonwealth law.
The University of Queensland is active in the prevention of the occurrence of discrimination, harassment and bullying in the workplace. All staff and students have a responsibility to behave in a respectful and equitable manner towards other staff, students and members of the community as detailed in the Code of Conduct.
A number of resources are available for staff in relation to discrimination, harassment and bullying:
- Grievance resolution procedure.
- Staff Development.
- Support services.
- Useful links.
What is Discrimination, Harassment and Bullying?
The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) states that discrimination occurs when a person, or group of people, is treated less favourably than another person or group because of their background or certain personal characteristics.
The Queensland and Commonwealth anti-discrimination legislation protects people from discrimination in employment because of their: gender, gender identity, age, race, sex, sexual orientation, relationship status, pregnancy, parental status, breastfeeding, family responsibilities, disability, impairment, religion, political opinion, national extraction, nationality, social origin, medical record, criminal record, trade union activity or association with, or in relation to, a person identified on the basis of any of these attributes.
The AHRC identifies that discrimination can happen at different points in the employment relationship, including:
- When recruiting and selecting staff.
- In the terms, conditions and benefits offered as part of employment.
- Who is considered or selected for training and the sorts of training offered.
- Who is considered or selected for transfer or promotion.
- Who is considered or selected for retrenchment or dismissal.
Under discrimination law, it is unlawful to treat a person less favourably on the basis of particular protected attributes. Treating a person less favourably because of these personal attributes can be considered harassment. It is important to understand that a one-off incident can constitute harassment.
The AHRC states that harassment can include behaviour such as:
- Telling insulting jokes about particular racial groups.
- Sending explicit or sexually suggestive emails or text messages.
- Displaying racially offensive or pornographic posters or screen savers.
- Making derogatory comments or taunts about a person’s disability.
- Asking intrusive questions about someone’s personal life, including their sex life.
The law has specific provisions relating to sexual harassment, racial hatred or disability harassment.
The Fair Work Act 2009, as ammended in 2013, defines workplace bullying as repeated unreasonable behaviour by an individual towards a worker which creates a risk to health and safety.
The AHRC identifies that bullying behaviour can range from obvious verbal or physical assault to subtle psychological abuse. It can include:
- Physical or verbal abuse.
- Yelling, screaming or offensive language.
- Excluding or isolating employees.
- Psychological harassment.
- Assigning meaningless tasks unrelated to the job.
- Giving employees impossible jobs.
- Deliberately changed work rosters to inconvenience particular employees.
- Undermining work performance by deliberately withholding information vital for effective work performance.
Legitimate comment and advice, including relevant negative feedback, from managers and supervisors on the work performance or work-related behaviour of an individual or group should not be confused with bullying, harassment or discrimination. Appropriate provisions of guidance, conducting performance counselling, invoking diminished performance procedures or misconduct procedures does not constitute harassment.
Everyone has the right to work and study in an environment free from bullying, harassment, discrimination and violence. The University takes a strong stance against this behaviour in its’ work and learning environment, and will not tolerate such behaviours.
If you would like any further information on any of this, or have any questions, please contact the Equity and Diversity section.
Discrimination, Harassment and Bullying section
For more information about the UQ discrimination, harassment and bullying grievance procedure, policies, legislation, training, support services or programs you can contact:
- Your Supervisor.
- A Discrimination and Harassment Contact Officer.
- Your HR Officer or HR Representative.
- A member of the Employee Relations team.
- Workplace Diversity and Inclusion
The person that you contact will depend on the circumstance of your enquiry, and should be someone you feel confident and comfortable talking to.
You can also seek advice, information or support from external agencies such as:
- A relevant staff union.
- The Fair Work Commission, the Australian Human Rights Commission or the Queensland Anti-Discrimination Commission.
For students with enquiries, you should contact Student Services.
Legislation underpinning the equity and diversity principles of the University of Queensland exists at both Commonwealth and State levels. These are detailed below.
Commonwealth legislation relating to human rights, disability, race, sex and age can be accessed through the Australian Human Rights Commission website.
This includes the:
- Disability Discrimination Act 1992.
- Sex Discrimination Act 1984.
- Racial Discrimination Act 1975.
- Age Discrimination Act 2004.
- Australia Human Rights Commission Act 1986.
Workplace Relations Legislation
Information about the national workplace system including the National Employment Standards can be found on the Fair Work ombudsman website. This includes information on the Fair Work Act 2009 which contains anti-discrimintaion and anti-bullying rights and obligations.
Gender Equity Legislation
The Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 applies to the University of Queensland, and requires it to report to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency each year. More information about this can be found here.
Anti-Discrimination, Harassment and Bullying Legislation
The Anti-Discrimination Act Queensland 1991 provides anti-discrimination rights and obligations in relation to the following 'protected attributes':
- Relationship status.
- Parental status.
- Religious belief or activity.
- Political belief or activity.
- Trade union activity.
- Lawful sexual activity.
- Breastfeeding needs.
- Family responsibilities.
- Gender identity.
And/or your association with, or relation to, a person identified on the basis of any of the above attributes. Information about this legislation can be found on the Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland website.
Information about the Workplace Health and Safety Act 2011, which contains workplace anti-harassment and anti-bullying rights and obligations can be accessed from the Workplace Health and Safety Queensland website.
The University is governed by the University of Queensland Act 1998. A number of university policies, which are approved by Senate, ensure the operations of UQ comply to this act and other legislation.
These policies and procedures are available through the UQ Policy and Procedures Library (PPL). There are a number of policies and procedures within the PPL that relate to equity and diversity areas. These are described below
The UQ code of conduct applies to all staff employed by the University of Queensland. The code of conduct demonstrates the University’s commitment to compliance with applicable laws and Standards, to promote a culture of fair and ethical behaviour and to encourage the reporting of corrupt practices, breaches of the law and matters detrimental to the University or its reputation.
This policy applies to all UQ staff, students and community. This policy provides an overarching statement of the University of Queensland’s commitment to equity and diversity for staff, students and the wider community and outlines internal structures and key aspects of operations where this is to be considered. The University also has obligations under a number of legislative instruments.
This policy applies to all UQ staff, students and community. The University of Queensland is committed to ensuring that the work and study environment for all University employees and students is free from sexual harassment. The purpose of this policy is to define what constitutes sexual harassment, outline preventative measures and provide links to resources for the process of resolving sexual harassment complaints.
This policy applies to all UQ staff, students and community. It outlines The University of Queensland’s commitment to ensuring staff, students and visitors to the University are able to work, study and carry out their business in an environment that exemplifies respectful relationships and is free of discrimination and harassment. The policy defines what constitutes racist behaviour and provides links to UQ grievance resolution procedures.
This policy applies to all UQ staff, students and community. It outlines the University’s commitment to ensuring that staff, students and visitors are not subjected to behaviours, practices or processes that may constitute discrimination, harassment, vilification or victimisation.
This policy applies to all UQ staff and students. It states the University’s commitments and responsibilities under legislation and aims to ensure an inclusive environment for people with a disability to participate in work and study at UQ. The University seeks to adopt and develop leading practice in the area.
This policy applies to all staff and provides an outline of the procedure for resolving a staff grievance in the most appropriate and best way possible. For more information about this policy, please refer to the 'Grievance Resolution Procedure' section of this website here.
The University of Queensland is committed to developing and maintaining a harmonious, fair and productive working environment, free of discrimination, harassment and bullying. The University of Queensland has a strong prevention focussed strategy, with firm policies, procedures and training programs in place to prevent any instances of discrimination, harassment and bullying from occurring in the workplace.
The University of Queensland Staff Grievance Resolution Policy states that grievance resolution is an integral part of a supervisor’s duties. It is the primary responsibility to identify, respond to and address problems in the workplace and to take all reasonable steps to ensure that victimisation of either a complainant or a respondent does not take place. So far as reasonably practicable, supervisors should recognise the early signs of disharmony in their teams, and if possible, take early, sensitive and positive steps to prevent and resolve potential or actual grievances between their staff.
However, the University acknowledges that instances of discrimination, harassment and bullying may still occur. That is why the University has developed a strong grievance resolution policy and procedure available to staff who feel that they have experienced discrimination, harassment and/or bullying in the workplace.
The following provides an overview of the UQ Staff Grievance Resolution Procedure. For more detailed information, please see the Staff Grievance Resolution Policy and Procedure or contact your HR Representative or Workplace Diversity and Inclusion.
Who Can I Talk To About Discrimination, Harassment or Bullying I Have Experienced?
Staff who believe they have a grievance related to discrimination, harassment or bullying may wish to take one or more of the following actions. The person, or people, who is the most appropriate to talk to will depend on the individual and the circumstances.
It is important to note, that if you wish for the matter to remain confidential the resolution process may be limited. In some instances, the matter may have to be reported due to legal obligations. More information about this can be found in the Staff Grievance Resolution Policy.
If you wish to seek support, advice or more information about discrimination, harassment or bullying matters in the workplace, you may choose to:
- Seek advice or information from their supervisor.
- Seek support from UQ support services.
- Seek information from a Discrimination and Harassment Contact Officer.
- Seek advice from a Human Resources Representative.
- Seek information from Workplace Diversity and Inclusion.
- Seek advice from the relevant staff union.
- Seek external resolution through a direct application to the Fair Work Commission, the Australian Human Rights Commission or the Queensland Anti-Discrimination Commission.
Staff who wish to pursue a grievance may seek resolution through the Staff Grievance Resolution Procedure outlined below. If the alleged behaviour involves actual or threatened physical assault, it may be referred by the Chief Operating Officer or Senior Executive responsible for academic employee relations, to the police to be handled under the Queensland Criminal Code.
Overview of the Staff Grievance Resolution Procedure
There are a number of steps in the staff grievance resolution procedure. For more details information of this process, please refer to the Staff Grievance Resolution Policy and Procedure.
Possible Steps of the Staff Grievance Resolution Procedure
Where possible, The University of Queensland promotes grievances, if appropriate, to be resolved informally. This might take the form of a direct approach in person, or if face-to-face contact is not possible or appropriate, in writing, carefully and clearly stating the nature of the concern and what a preferred outcome might be. The aim is to reach an acceptable outcome that minimises any potential problems to ongoing workplace relations.
Only where informal resolution is not possible, or inappropriate, should the formal grievance resolution process be continued.
Step One: Conciliation
This step requires the Staff Grievance Resolution Form to be completed and submitted to the complainant’s supervisor, or supervisor’s supervisor. This form details the nature of the complaint, the attempts made to resolve the grievance informally and the preferred remedy to resolve the grievance.
Once this form has been submitted, the supervisor will initiate discussion with the complainant and respondent (independently or together) to determine whether a genuine grievance exists, identify they key points of concerns between the parties and to determine an appropriate course of action to resolve the grievance/matter.
If a resolution can’t be made at this stage, then the process may move to the next step.
Step Two: Investigation
In consultation with a senior representative from the Human Resources Division, the supervisor responsible for resolving the grievance can conduct or commission and investigation. The investigation will include a meeting with the complainant and the respondent (separately) to clarify the details of the grievance in order to gather information to assist with the investigation and determination of the grievance.
At the conclusion of the investigation, the supervisor responsible for resolving the grievance will meet with the parties (separately) and advise them of the investigation findings and seek agreement from the complainant on the proposed grievance resolution plan.
If the grievance is still not resolved in this stage, then the process may move to the next step.
Step Three: Review
The grievance will be reviewed by the Director, Human Resources (or their delegates), to determine whether a substantive grievance is apparent.
At this stage, the Director, Human Resources, can determine that no substantive grievance exists, and accordingly discontinue this procedure.
If the Director, Human Resources, in their review, find that a substantive grievance exists then they will seek agreement from the complainant on a proposed set of conditions to resolve the grievance.
If a resolution can’t be reached, then the process may proceed to the next step of this procedure.
Step Four: Final Determination
If agreement cannot be reached at step three, the complainant may request that the Director, Human Resources (or their delegate) provide a report to the relevant senior executive seeking a review of the proposed resolution of the grievance.
The relevant senior executive will either determine that the proposed resolution is appropriate and conclude the matter or make recommendations for alternative resolution of the grievance. This determination will be final and will conclude these procedures.
Step Five: Transfer
In a situation where irreconcilable differences between two members of staff affect work performance, staff well-being or efficiency, following reasonable attempts at reconciliation (which may have occurred prior to grievance resolution procedures being instigated), the Director, Human Resources and the staff member(s) concerned may agree to a transfer of the staff member.
This provides a simple overview of the process only, and is designed to be read in conjunction with the Staff Grievance Resolution Policy and Procedure and the Discrimination and Harassment Policy. If you would like any further information about this, or have any questions, please feel free to contact your supervisor, a DHCO, a Human Resources representative or Workplace Diversity and Inclusion.
Discrimination, harassment or bullying can potentially cause great harm to the health and well-being of an individual. The enormous stress it can place on someone can have extremely ill effects on their health.
The University of Queensland actively engages to prevent any instances of discrimination, harassment or bullying from occurring in the workplace. However, if someone does experience any of this behaviour there are a number of support services available to staff.
These support services are not limited to staff who have experienced discrimination, harassment or bullying in the workplace. These services are also available to support staff for any personal situations that may occur. It is important to look after your wellbeing, and these services are available to all staff at any time, for any reason.
For more information about discrimination, harassment and bullying in the workplace there are a number of resources available to help prevent or resolve any instances occurring in the workplace.
Some useful resources are: