Last Updated: September 2008

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At the Hunter Valley Research Foundation (HVRF) we are committed to providing a work
environment which is pleasant for employees and which is conducive to good workplace
relations. This means that everyone should feel comfortable in the workplace and that
differences should be respected. An important part of good working relationships is that
everyone must be able to work in an environment free from harassment and/or bullying, that
is, behaviour that they do not like or want to happen. Harassment which is sexual or sex-
based, racial or relates to a person's marital status, disability, age, pregnancy or sexual
preference, as well as bullying, threats, practical jokes and initiation rites are discriminatory
and will not be tolerated in the workplace. Most types of harassment are also against State
and Federal anti-discrimination law and may also be an offence under the Crimes Act.
Harassment also goes against Equal Employment Opportunity policy and our Occupational
Health and Safety policy by making the workplace unsafe. HVRF staff should not harass or
bully clients, function attendees, survey participants or anyone in their dealings with or on
behalf of the HVRF.

It is the HVRF's policy that:

•        Harassment and bullying will not be tolerated under any circumstances. It is NOT

•        Any employee can complain about harassment and/or bullying to the Anti-
         harassment/discrimination Officer, the Chief Executive, their co-worker or the Anti-
         Discrimination Board.

•        All harassment and/or bullying complaints will be treated seriously, sympathetically,
         quickly and privately.

•        All harassment and/or bullying complaints will be investigated fairly and impartially.

•        Action will be taken to make sure that harassment and/or bullying stops.

•        People making complaints and witnesses will not be victimised for doing so.

•        Complaints should be settled within the workplace wherever possible.

What is harassment?
Harassment is any behaviour which is not asked for and not wanted and that happens
because of a person's sex, race, age, marital status, disability, sexual preference,
pregnancy, sexual identity, HIV/AIDS or hepatitis status.

Harassment in the workplace can create an unpleasant or even hostile work environment.
Harassment makes work difficult for everyone - the person being harassed, as well as
employees witnessing the harassment. The harasser also is not concentrating on their work
when he/she engages in this type of behaviour. It may offend, upset, humiliate, or scare
another person. It makes the workplace uncomfortable and unpleasant.
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Harassment is not always intended - acts or behaviour which are funny or don't mean much
to one person may hurt or offend another. A workplace without harassment is a workplace
where people respect and tolerate the rights and differences of others.

Workplace harassment usually consists of a pattern of unwelcome behaviour, however, it
can consist of just one act where this is of a serious nature. Also, there is no requirement
that the harasser intends to offend or harm in order for it to be unlawful. All that is required
under the law is that a reasonable person would consider that the person being harassed
would be offended, humiliated or intimidated by the behaviour in question.

Remember the key element of sexual harassment is that it is unwelcome behaviour. It has
nothing to do with mutual attraction, or private, consenting friendships, whether sexual or

Harassment often happens when power is used wrongly. The power may be related to:

<        Position (e.g. a manager over someone they are in charge of).
<        Cultural difference (e.g. men over women in a society where men hold most power
         or a white person over a person of colour in a traditionally Anglo-Saxon society).
<        Number (e.g. women over men in the workplace where most workers are women).

Types of harassment

Harassment in the workplace can take many forms. It can be overt (obvious) or subtle,
direct or indirect (for example where a hostile feeling/environment is created without any
direct attacks being made on a person).

Some forms of verbal harassment

•        sexual or suggestive remarks/demands
•        making fun of someone
•        imitating someone's accent
•        propositions (sexual invitations)
•        spreading rumours
•        obscene telephone calls (criminal offence)
•        repeated unwelcome invitations
•        offensive jokes
•        repeated questions about personal life
•        threats, insults, or taunting
•        the use of language that is not suitable in the workplace
•        name calling/derogatory comments

Some forms of non-verbal harassment

•        putting sexually suggestive, homophobic, offensive or degrading/insulting material on
         walls, computer screen savers, email and so on
•        suggestive looks or leers
•        unwelcome practical jokes
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•        displaying or circulating racist cartoons or literature
•        mimicking someone with a disability
•        following someone home from work
•        ignoring someone or being particularly cold or distant with them
•        not sharing information
•        offensive hand or body gestures
•        sending offensive material through computers, fax or email
•        wolf-whistling
•        continually ignoring or dismissing someone's contribution in a meeting/discussion

Some forms of physical harassment

•        unnecessary physical contact (pinching, patting, brushing up against a person,
         touching, kissing, hugging against a person's will)
•        indecent or sexual assault or attempted assault (criminal offence)
•        pushing, shoving or jostling
•        putting your hand or an object (like a payslip or wages packet) into someone's
         pocket (especially breast, hip or back pocket)
•        flashing (criminal offence)

The HVRF recognises that workplace harassment may involve comments and behaviours
which offend some people and not others. The management of the HVRF accepts that
individuals may react differently to comments and behaviour. That is why a minimum
standard of behaviour is required of employees which, as far as possible, is respectful of all

What is bullying?
The following information in this section was sourced from the "Discrimination, Harassment
and Bullying in the Workplace" Workbook prepared for the HVRF by Olivia C Fenlon (2004).

Bullying tends to be a large number of incidents (individually trivial) over a long period
comprising constant unjustified and unsubstantiated criticism. Definitions of harassment
and bullying vary and there is much overlap. The essential differences between harassment
and workplace bullying are as follows:
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                       Harassment                                             Workplace bullying

Has a strong physical component, e.g. contact and           Almost exclusively psychological (e.g. criticism),
touch in all its forms, intrusion into personal space and   may become physical later, especially with male
possessions, damage to possessions including a              bullies, but almost never with female bullies
person's work, etc
                                                            Although bullies are deeply prejudiced, sex, race
Harassment is usually linked to sex, race, prejudice,
                                                            and gender play little part; it's usually discrimination
discrimination, etc
                                                            on the basis of competence
                                                            Bullying is rarely a single incident and tends to be an
Harassment may consist of a single incident or a few        accumulation of many small incidents, each of
incidents or many incidents                                 which, when taken in isolation and out of context,
                                                            seems trivial
                                                            The person being bullied may not realise they are
The person who is being harassed knows almost
                                                            being bullied for weeks or months - until there's a
straight away they are being harassed
                                                            moment of enlightenment
Everyone can recognise harassment, especially if
                                                            Few people recognise bullying
there's an assault, indecent assault or sexual assault
                                                            Workplace bullying tends to fixate on trivial criticisms
Harassment often reveals itself through use of
                                                            and false allegations of underperformance; offensive
recognised offensive vocabulary, e.g. ("bitch", "coon",
                                                            words rarely appear, although swear words may be
                                                            used when there are no witnesses
There's often an element of possession, e.g. as in          Phase 1 of bullying is control and subjugation; when
stalking                                                    this fails, phase 2 is elimination of the target
Harassment takes place both in and out of work              The bullying takes place mostly at work

                                                            The target is seen as a threat who must first be
The harasser often perceives their target as easy, albeit
                                                            controlled and subjugated, and if that doesn't work,
sometimes a challenge

                                                            Bullying is for control of threat (of exposure of the
Harassment is often domination for superiority
                                                            bully's own inadequacy)

Published by “Bully on Line” the website of the UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line:

What to do if you are harassed and/or bullied
If you believe that you are being harassed and/or bullied there are a number of important
steps you may wish to take:

         •        Tell the person that their behaviour is unacceptable, and that it must stop.
                  You should also tell them you do not like what they are doing and that it is
                  NOT OK with you or with anyone in the HVRF;

         •        Report the behaviour or incident to the designated Anti-harassment/
                  Discrimination Officer, management, or the Equal Opportunity Officer;

         •        If they do not stop, you may wish to lodge a grievance under the company’s
                  Grievance/Complaint Handling Policy. Action should be taken to prevent
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                  further harassment. You may go to the designated officer who will help you
                  with your complaint. For more information on who to contact and how they
                  can help you, see the section headed Where to go for more information at the
                  end of this document.

         •        Keep a note of any harassment/bullying that happens with dates, times,
                  witnesses if any, what happened and what you said, did or felt.

         •        Keep your complaint confidential - this will avoid idle gossip and the
                  possibility of defamation proceedings against you or the company.

You can also get confidential advice from your Union or Anti-Discrimination Board
(telephone numbers and addresses of some of these places are given below under the
heading Where to go for more information).

The responsibility of management and supervisors
The HVRF has a legal responsibility to take reasonable steps to prevent harassment and
bullying from happening in the workplace. This involves educating employees about
harassment and bullying, putting in place this policy, implementing grievance procedures
and ensuring compliance by all in the workforce.

If you make a complaint of workplace harassment and/or bullying it will be taken very
seriously and will be dealt with sympathetically and in a confidential manner. The complaint
will be investigated and, if found to be proved, appropriate warnings or other disciplinary
action will be taken against the harasser/bully. The names of anyone involved in a
complaint must not be discussed with others except those immediately involved in the

You should tell them immediately if any harassment and/or bullying is going on.

You will not be victimised or treated unfairly for making a complaint.

If you are not satisfied with the way in which your complaint has been dealt with by the
company, you can seek further advice from an outside agency such as the Human Rights
and Equal Opportunity Commission or the Anti-Discrimination Board.

The responsibility of staff
It is the responsibility of all staff to respect the rights of others and never encourage
harassment and/or bullying. Each employee must ensure that they do not engage in
harassing and/or bullying behaviour towards other employees, managers or supervisors,
clients or customers. Employees should be aware that they can be held legally responsible
for their unlawful acts. Employees who aid, abet or encourage other persons to harass
and/or bully can also be held legally liable.
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If you become aware that someone you work with is being harassed or bullied, help prevent
it by offering your support to the person being harassed and/or bullied. You can do this by:

•        telling them that you are willing to act as a witness if the person being harassed
         decides to lodge a complaint

•        refusing to join in with any harassing and/or bullying activity

•        backing them up or supporting them to say no.

It is not your responsibility to say anything to the person who they say is harassing and/or
bullying them or to spread rumours about someone. If you participate in spreading rumours
you may be subject to a defamation action.

Where to go for more Information
1.       These HVRF staff can help you:

         Terese Innes is the designated Anti-harassment/Discrimination Officer.

         Wej Paradice, Chief Executive.

         Jane Price, Equal Employment Opportunity Officer.

2.       Interpreters:

         Ethnic Affairs Commission - Ph: 1300 651500
         Telephone Interpreting Service - Ph: 131450

3.       Your Union (if applicable)

4.       The Anti-Discrimination Board:

         You may at any time contact the Anti-Discrimination Board for advice or to make a
         complaint, if you don't feel your complaint is being handled properly at work.

         Anti-Discrimination Board - Newcastle Office
         414 Hunter St
         Newcastle NSW 2300
         Ph: 4926 4300

         Anti-Discrimination Board - Sydney Enquiry Ph. Number: 1800 670812
         TTY (telephone typewriter for people with hearing impairments) - Ph: (02) 9268 5522

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