Equal Employment Opportunities

1. Introduction
SCA (Vic) is committed to the principle that ‘Everyone has the right to a fair go’ and has developed this policy on equal opportunity and the role of management.

2. Everyone has the right to a fair go
SCA (Vic) is an equal opportunity employer. All employees are treated on their merits, without regard to race, age, sex, relationship status or any other factor not applicable to the position. Employees are valued according to how well they perform their duties, and on their ability to maintain SCA (Vic) standards of service.

SCA (Vic) believes that all employees should be able to work in an environment free of discrimination, victimisation, sexual harassment and vilification. We consider these behaviours unacceptable and they will not be tolerated under any circumstances.

The Victorian Equal Opportunity Act 1995 and federal anti-discrimination laws protect the right to a fair go and it is against the law for someone to treat you unfairly (discriminate) or harass (hassle or pick on) you because of your actual or assumed:

•Carer status
•Gender identity
•Industrial activity
•Lawful sexual activity
•Marital status
•Parental status
•Physical features
•Political belief or activity
•Religious belief or activity
•Sexual orientation
•Personal association with someone who has, or is assumed to have, one of these personal characteristics
Victimisation because a person has made a complaint, agreed to be a witness or has had a complaint made against them is against the law. Sexual harassment is prohibited under both state legislation and the federal Sex Discrimination Act 1984.

Vilification on the basis of a person’s race, religion, gender identity, or sexuality is also unlawful.

Federal anti-discrimination legislation prohibits discrimination on the basis on criminal record, medical record or social origin.

3. Vicarious liability
Under state anti-discrimination law, SCA (Vic) can be liable for discrimination, sexual harassment, and/or vilification, which happen in the workplace; unless we can show we have taken reasonable steps to prevent it.

The Executive Officer must therefore ensure that all employees are treated fairly and are not subject to any of these behaviours. S/he must also ensure that people who make complaints, or who are witnesses, are not victimised in any way.

Any reports of discrimination, victimisation, sexual harassment, and vilification will be treated seriously and investigated promptly, confidentially and impartially.

4. What is discrimination?
Discrimination occurs when someone is treated unfavourably because of an attribute under the Act. Discrimination may involve:

•Making offensive jokes about another worker’s racial or ethnic background, sex, sexual preference, age or disability.
•Expressing negative stereotypes about particular groups eg “married women shouldn’t be working”.
•Judging someone on their political or religious beliefs rather than their work performance.
•Using selection processes based on irrelevant attributes such as age, race or disability rather than on skills or merit.

5. What is sexual harassment?
Sexual harassment is any form of unwelcome sexual attention. It includes unwelcome touching or other physical contact, remarks with sexual connotations, smutty jokes, requests for sex, or the display of offensive materials such as pictures, poster or computer graphics.

Sexual harassment is against the law wherever and whenever it occurs. SCA (Vic) will not tolerate sexual harassment in the workplace or in any work-related context such as conferences, work functions, and business trips.

Sexual harassment has nothing to do with mutual attraction. Such friendships are a private matter.

Sexual harassment can be a single incident – it depends on the circumstances. Obviously some actions or remarks are so offensive that they constitute sexual harassment in themselves, even if they are not repeated. Other single incidents, such as unwanted invitation out, may not constitute harassment if they are not repeated and are polite and respectful.

There is no onus on the person being harassed to say he/she finds the conduct objectionable. Many people find it difficult to speak up. All employees are responsible for their own behaviour. If you think the behaviour may offend, then don’t do it!

6. What is vilification?
Vilification is behaviour that:

a.happens in a public place; and
b.Incites others to hate, to have serious contempt for or to severely ridicule individuals or groups because of their race, religion, sexuality, or gender identity.
Workplaces can be considered public places. This means that any conduct which can possibly be observed by the public or any sort of communication either verbal or in writing to the public cam be considered to have happened in a public place.

Some examples of vilification are:

•Hate graffiti written on work toilet walls, which incites hatred because of race, religion, sexuality, or gender identity.
•Wearing of symbols, badges or clothing in the workplace with slogans that incite hatred.
•An employee abusing a person because of their race, religion, sexuality or gender identity in the workplace which encourages others to hate people of that race, religion, sexuality or gender identity.

7. Compliance
•All staff are expected to familiarise themselves with the Equal Employment Opportunity Act and the SCA (Vic) policy.
•Staff will be expected to act in a manner consistent with the principles and the spirit of the Act in all their dealings with their colleagues, Committee Members, members and associates of the SCA (Vic) including members of the general public and in particular, young people.
8. What to do if you are discriminated against, sexually harassed or vilified?
There are a number of options. Choose the course of action you feel most comfortable with. Don’t ignore discrimination, sexual harassment, or vilification, thinking it will go away – often it just gets worse.

•All matters related to Equal Employment Opportunity are to be referred to the Executive Officer who is required to advise or contact the President of SCA (Vic)
•Contact your trade union for advice.
•Call the Equal Opportunity Commission to obtain further information about making a complaint:
Equal Opportunity Commission Victoria
Level 3, 380 Lonsdale Street
Melbourne Vic 3000

Tel: (03) 9271 7111 Hotline 9821 7100 TTY (03) 9281 7110
Internet site address: http://www.eoc.vic.gov.au/