Harassment, Bullying, Unlawful Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct Policy

Fact box

Purpose

The purpose of the policy is to provide protection against discrimination; harassment (including sexual harassment) and bullying; vilification and victimisation; sexual misconduct (including sexual assault/violence and sexual exploitation); other wrongful, unlawful or inappropriate conduct at Alphacrucis College (AC).

Scope

Whole college, including, but not limited to, students, staff, volunteers and persons seeking to enrol in a course of study

Policy

The College aims to:

  • provide a work and study environment that is safe and pleasant for staff and students which is free from harassment, bullying and unlawful discrimination;
  • provide a work and study environment where staff and students are treated with dignity, courtesy and respect;
  • provide an effective procedure for complaints;
  • treat all complaints in a sensitive, fair, timely and confidential manner;
  • guarantee protection from any victimisation or reprisals;
  • encourage the reporting of behaviour which breaches this policy;
  • promote appropriate standards of conduct at all times.

AC recognises that harassment (including sexual harassment), bullying, unlawful discrimination and sexual misconduct may involve comments and behaviours that offend some people and not others. AC accepts that individuals may react differently to comments and behaviour. That is why a minimum standard of behaviour is required of students, staff, and volunteers.

Engaging in harassment, bullying, unlawful discrimination or sexual misconduct in the workplace constitutes a breach of this policy and may result in disciplinary action up to and including exclusion from the student’s course of study or dismissal. In some instances, this may also amount to a criminal offence or a breach of relevant legislation. If an international student engages in sexual misconduct, their CoE may be cancelled which may lead to their student visa being revoked

HARASSMENT, BULLYING AND UNLAWFUL DISCRIMINATION

Harassment, bullying and/or unlawful discrimination will not be tolerated in any form or under any circumstance at AC, including: campuses, work-related functions, study excursions, unwelcome phone calls, or following someone home from work. What constitutes bullying at work is defined by the Fair Work Act 2009. Harassment and/or discrimination occurs when a person is harassed or discriminated against in the workplace and in certain areas of public life:

  • because of their race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin, as defined under the Racial Discrimination Act 1975;
  • or because of their sex, marital status, pregnancy as defined under the Sex Discrimination Act 1984;
  • or because of a disability as defined under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992;
  • or because of age as defined under the Age Discrimination Act 2004.

AC has a responsibility under Occupational Health and Safety and anti-discrimination laws to ensure the health, safety and welfare of employees and others in the workplace. Individual employees may be liable to prosecution for failure to provide a safe workplace. Harassment, bullying and/or unlawful discrimination may result in injury to staff, which may be compensable under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1998.

SEXUAL DISCRIMINATION

In line with relevant national and international legislation, AC holds that no person shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity. Discrimination on the basis of sex can include sexual discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual assault/sexual violence, and sexual exploitation. Sexual discrimination that deprives a person of the ability to participate in or benefit from AC’s education program or activities is prohibited.

SEXUAL MISCONDUCT

Forms of Sexual Misconduct

Sexual harassment is any unwanted, unwelcome or uninvited behaviour of a sexual nature which makes a person feel humiliated, intimidated or offended. Sexual harassment is against the law and will not be tolerated at AC. Sexual harassment may take place inside or outside the workplace. Specific examples of sexual harassment include but are not limited to:

  • staring or leering;
  • unnecessary familiarity, such as deliberately brushing up against a person or unwelcome touching;
  • suggestive comments or jokes;
  • insults or taunts of a sexual nature;
  • intrusive questions or statements about a person’s private life;
  • displaying posters, magazines or screen savers of a sexual nature;
  • sending sexually explicit emails or text messages;
  • inappropriate advances on social networking sites;
  • gestures;
  • accessing sexually explicit internet sites;
  • requests for sex or repeated unwanted requests to go out on dates;
  • behaviour that may also be considered to be an offence under criminal law, such as physical assault, indecent exposure, sexual assault, stalking or obscene communications.

Sexual Exploitation refers to a situation in which a person takes non-consensual or abusive sexual advantage of another, and situations in which the conduct does not fall within the definitions of Sexual Harassment, Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse or Non-Consensual Sexual Contact. Specific examples of sexual exploitation include, but are not limited to:

  • invasion of sexual privacy;
  • prostituting another student;
  • non-consensual recording, broadcasting sexual activity, including redistribution of pictures, video, or audio;
  • going beyond the boundaries of consent (such as letting your friends hide in the closet to watch you having consensual sex);
  • engaging in voyeurism;
  • knowingly exposing another to an STD or HIV;
  • exposing one’s genitals in non-consensual circumstances or inducing another to expose their genitals;
  • sexually based stalking and/or bullying, including cyber-stalking and/or cyber-bullying, may also be forms of sexual exploitation.

Sexual Assault or Sexual Violence is a particular type of sexual harassment that includes non-consensual sexual contact, non-consensual sexual intercourse, rape, or other physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person’s will or where a person is incapable of giving consent. Non-consensual sexual intercourse is any sexual penetration or intercourse (anal, oral or vaginal), however slight, with any object, by a person upon another person, that is without consent and/or by force. Specific examples of sexual assault or sexual violence includes, but is not limited to physical assaults of a sexual nature, such as:

  • rape;
  • sexual assault;
  • sexual battery;
  • domestic violence;
  • dating violence;
  • stalking; or
  • attempts to commit these acts.

Force refers to the use of physical violence and/or imposing on someone physically to gain sexual access. Specific examples of force include, but is not limited to:

  • threats,
  • intimidation (implied threats); and
  • coercion that overcome resistance or produce consent.

Hazing is an act likely to cause physical or psychological harm or social ostracism to any person within the AC community, when related to the admission, initiation, pledging, joining, or any other group-affiliation activity.

Incapacitation is a state where someone cannot make rational, reasonable decisions because they lack the capacity to give knowing consent. This policy also covers a person whose incapacity results from a mental or developmental disability, involuntary physical restraint, and/or from the taking of incapacitating drugs.

Indecent Exposure refers to the exposure of the private or intimate parts of the body in a lewd manner in public or in private premises when the accused may be readily observed.

Consent

Consent is knowing, voluntary, and clear permission by word or action, to engage in mutually agreed upon sexual activity. Since individuals may experience the same interaction in different ways, it is the responsibility of each party to make certain that the other has consented before engaging in the activity. For consent to be valid there must be a clear expression in words or actions that the other individual agreed to that specific sexual conduct. A person cannot consent if they are unable to understand what is happening or is disoriented, helpless, asleep or unconscious for any reason, including due to alcohol or other drugs. A person can withdraw consent at any time during sexual activity. A minor below the age of consent according to state law cannot consent to sexual activity.

Retaliation

AC strictly prohibits retaliation against a member of the AC community who opposes the practices prohibited by this policy against sexual misconduct, who brings forth a complaint, against whom a complaint is brought, or who otherwise is a participant in a complaint resolution process. Such prohibited retaliatory conduct includes, but is not limited to:

  • reducing a student's grade;
  • decreasing an employee's pay; or
  • downgrading a person's performance evaluation.

RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES

AC is responsible to ensure that the wishes of the victim/survivor are respected in relation to reporting harassment, bullying, unlawful discrimination, sexual discrimination or sexual misconduct. The victim/survivor always has the right to contact the police directly. AC is also responsible for responding promptly and effectively to all reports by taking immediate action to eliminate the harassment, bullying, unlawful discrimination, sexual discrimination or sexual misconduct, prevent its recurrence and address its effects. A criminal investigation into allegations of sexual harassment or sexual violence does not relieve AC of its duty to resolve complaints promptly and equitably.

The victim/survivor also has the right to anonymous or third party reporting. AC will retain an anonymous report on the Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Incident Register. However, the College may not be able to take further action arising out of anonymous reports, including but not limited to where limited or no information is available to identify the parties involved or the subject of the report.

Victims/survivors of sexual misconduct should be aware that AC administrators must report to the police any incidents relating to people under the age of 18 and/or that are confirmed to pose a substantial threat of bodily harm or danger to members of the campus community. AC will make every effort to ensure that a victim’s name and other identifying information are not disclosed, while still providing enough information for community members to make safety decisions in light of the danger. The reports for timely warning purposes include: Student Representative Council, AC Workplace Health and Safety Committee, local police and any other official with significant responsibility for student and campus activities.

Confidentiality and Privacy

If a person makes a complaint, it will be taken very seriously and will be dealt with sympathetically and in a confidential manner. Staff and student confidential and personal information will only be released with the consent of the person involved, next of kin or where it may be necessary to protect the health and wellbeing of others.

College Health and Safety Officer

The College Health and Safety Officer - appointed by the Vice President Operations (VPO) - is responsible for monitoring AC’s compliance with relevant legislation by helping to ensure that the College responds appropriately, effectively and equitably to sexual discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual misconduct.

The College Health and Safety Officer will:

  • provide education and training about discrimination, harassment, sexual discrimination, and sexual misconduct to the AC community;
  • receive and investigate reports and complaints of discrimination, harassment, and sexual misconduct in accordance with this policy;
  • identify and address any patterns or systematic problems that arise during the review of such complaints;
  • ensure AC fulfils all legal and statistical reporting obligations; and
  • annually assess the overall efforts of AC’s compliance to this policy.

Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Taskforce

AC also has a trained sexual assault and sexual harassment taskforce within the Student Services and Support Team. This taskforce works closely with the College Health and Safety Officer to ensure that the victim/survivor has access to appropriate reporting and support mechanisms.

First Responders

An AC First Responder is defined as an AC staff member or student on the AC Register of First Responders who has been trained to be the first person who responds to a report of sexual misconduct.

Managers’ and supervisors’ role

Managers and supervisors must ensure they and their staff understand and adhere to this policy. If a person approaches them with a complaint, they should take appropriate steps to resolve it. If this is not possible or is inappropriate, then the Human Resources Officer should be informed.

The reporting person may bring a support person with them to any meetings.  

Employees’ role

Each employee must adhere to this policy and should be aware that they can be held legally responsible for their unlawful acts. Employees who aid, abet or encourage other persons to harass, bully or unlawfully discriminate can also be held legally liable.

Responsible for implementation

Vice President Operations

Key stakeholders

All Staff

Related legislation

Sex Discrimination Act 1984: https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/C2014C00002
Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) 1994: https://www.congress.gov/bill/103rd-congress/house-bill/3355
Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act: https://www.congress.gov/bill/112th-congress/house-bill/2016
Title IX of the Education Amendments Act 1972: https://www.justice.gov/crt/title-ix-education-amendments-1972
Crimes Act 1900 (NSW): http://www5.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/nsw/consol_act/ca190082/

Related documents

AC Guidelines for Support Services and Reporting Sexual Harassment or Assault


Procedures

Harassment, Bullying, and Unlawful Discrimination

SEXUAL MISCONDUCT PROCEDURES

If a staff member, student or volunteer is the victim/survivor of sexual assault or sexual harassment, the first priority is the wellbeing of the individual.  As such, the individual is encouraged to seek support from a trusted source such as a family member, counsellor, campus pastor, student support, First Responder or external provider before taking any formal action. The reporting person is advised to limit the number of people they inform about the incident/s so as not to jeopardise the impartiality of any future investigation.

AC also recognises that victims/survivors all respond in different ways and may not approach this procedure in a linear or sequential way (for example, they may contact a taskforce member before completing the confidential online form).  First Responders will exercise maximum flexibility and care while guiding a victim/survivor through this procedure.

If the victim/survivor chooses to take formal action, the following procedures are in place:

Step 1 – Record and Contact

The victim/survivor may complete the confidential online Sexual Assault/Sexual Harassment Incident Form which will be added to the confidential Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Incident Register. If the victim/survivor provides contact information, a Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Taskforce member will contact them. This report is not linked with other AC systems and does not impact on the victim/survivor’s academic standing or immigration status (for international students).

Step 2 – Discuss Options

The Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Taskforce member will discuss further support and reporting options available to the victim/survivor, including ongoing support or making a report to the police.

Step 3 – Action Plan

The Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Taskforce member works with the victim/survivor to develop an action plan to ensure safety and reduce any potential ongoing risks where possible. If the victim/survivor decides to report to police or an external agency and a criminal investigation or similar process is commenced, AC will exercise its discretion as to whether to proceed with their internal investigation or may suspend the investigation, seeking advice from police or the external agency as appropriate. Where an internal investigation is suspended, appropriate support and guidance will continue to be provided.

Step 4 – Review and Close

AC will review the report and any agreed courses of action with the victim/survivor before the matter is closed. The victim/survivor may contact the Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Taskforce member regarding the report at any time.

Interim Protective Measures

In the case of sexual discrimination or sexual misconduct, the College reserves the right, at the direction of the VPO, or approved delegate, to suspend or place on immediate administrative leave any member of the campus community accused of violating this policy, or to take any other interim measures the College deems appropriate, pending the outcome of an investigation and/or disciplinary proceedings. Such interim measures can include, but are not limited to, placing an employee on paid or unpaid administrative leave, removing a student from current classes, modifying course schedules, and issuing a “no contact” order, among many other remedies.

Reporting Criminal Offences

In accordance with section 316 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), the College may report information about a ‘serious indictable offence’ to the police if it involves a person under the age of 18 and/or if there is a substantial threat of bodily harm or danger to members of the campus community. In these cases, if a student or staff member decides not to report an incident of sexual assault to the police, the College will use its best efforts to protect the confidentiality of information relating to the student or staff member’s disclosure or complaint, while meeting its legal obligations.

If a matter is reported to police and it will interfere with the police investigation/action to continue to deal with the matter under AC procedures, the College will suspend action. If there is no risk of interference with a police investigation the matter may be dealt with under the College’s grievance procedures.

In some limited circumstances, the College may need to report an incident of sexual assault to the police against a student or staff member’s wishes, to ensure the safety of the student, staff member or other members of the College community, or to meet its legal obligations. The College will inform the student or staff member before reporting an incident of sexual assault to the police.

First Responders

If a student, staff member or volunteer discloses to another student, staff member or volunteer that they have experienced sexual misconduct, they should be directed to an AC First Responder.

Incidents Outside AC

Where staff or students disclose incidents that occurred outside the domain of AC, such as in their home or an external workplace, the First Responders are encouraged to support the victim/survivor and show them the available support services.

HARASSMENT, BULLYING, UNLAWFUL DISCRIMINATION AND SEXUAL DISCRIMINATION PROCEDURES

Notifying and Reporting Breaches

If a staff member, student or volunteer believes that they are being harassed, bullied, unlawfully discriminated or sexually discriminated against, there are a number of important steps they should take:

  • the individual is encouraged to seek support from a trusted source such as a family member, counsellor, campus pastor, student support or external provider before taking any formal action. The reporting person is advised to limit the number of people they inform about the incident/s so as not to jeopardise the impartiality of any future investigation;

  • report the behaviour or incident to their manager, or the Human Resources Officer; the individual can lodge a grievance under the College’s Grievance Policies;

If the alleged perpetrator is a manager then the report about the manager should be directed to a senior manager, and if this is not available, to the VPO;

  • when made aware of such a matter under these procedures, an authorised officer for grievances may assist the person to make a report to police. A criminal investigation into allegations does not relieve AC of its duty to resolve complaints promptly and equitably. If a matter is reported to police and it will interfere with the police investigation/action to continue to deal with the matter under AC procedures, the College will suspend action. If there is no risk of interference with a police investigation the matter may be dealt with under the College’s grievance procedures.

The first priority is the wellbeing of the individual. As such, the reporting person will not be victimised or treated unfairly for reporting an incident. If the reporting person is not satisfied with the way in which the College has dealt with a complaint, the reporting person can seek further advice from an outside agency such as the Human Rights Commission or the Equal Opportunity Commission or other relevant government agency.

Support for the Accused

Persons accused of bullying, discrimination, sexual discrimination, sexual harassment, or sexual assault are able to access a range of support services included in the related documents. Where persons accused of sexual misconduct have been directed to stay away from an AC campus or delivery site, they may draw upon the services of external providers.