Workplace Discrimination and Harassment


Statement of Policy

Discrimination, bullying and sexual harassment is unlawful. This organisation does not tolerate any of these behaviours in any form. Every Committee Member and volunteer has a responsibility to ensure that does not occur.

Anyone found to have discriminated, bullied or sexually harassed another person will be subject to disciplinary action that may include an apology, counselling, transfer of duties or dismissal.

Reports of any of these behaviours will be treated promptly, seriously and confidentially. Complainants have the right to determine how a complaint will be treated. They also have the right to have a supporter or representative chosen by them involved in the process and the option to stop the process at any time.

The alleged harasser also has the right to have a supporter or representative chosen by them present when he/she responds to the allegations made.

No Committee Member or volunteer will be treated unfairly as a result of making a complaint of this nature. Immediate disciplinary action will be taken against anyone who victimises or retaliates against someone who has made a complaint of this nature.

The organisation will afford natural justice to any person involved in a dispute.

2. Scope

This policy applies to:

  • Management Committee members, sub-committee volunteers and all other volunteers (”volunteers”)
  • How Bayside Women In Business Inc. (“BWIB”) provides services to subscribers and members (“clients”) and how it interacts with other members of the public
  • All aspects of appointment, engagement, contracts, employment, recruitment and selection; conditions and benefits; training and promotion; task allocation; shifts; hours; leave arrangements; workload; equipment and transport
  • on-site, off-site or after functions and activities; organisation related social functions; conferences – wherever and whenever volunteers may be as a result of their BWIB duties
  • volunteers treatment of other volunteers, of clients, and of other members of the public encountered in the course of their BWIB duties.

3. Aims

BWIB is committed to providing a safe, flexible and respectful environment for volunteers and clients free from all forms of discrimination, bullying and sexual harassment.

All BWIB volunteers are required to treat others with dignity, courtesy and respect.

By effectively implementing our Workplace anti-discrimination anti-harassment and equal opportunity policy we will attract and retain talented volunteers and create a positive environment for volunteers. 

4. Volunteers Rights and Responsibilities

All volunteers are entitled to:

  • recruitment and selection decisions based on merit and not affected by irrelevant personal characteristics
  • work free from discrimination, bullying and sexual harassment
  • the right to raise issues or to make an enquiry or complaint in a reasonable and respectful manner
  • without being victimised
  • reasonably flexibility in working arrangements, especially where needed to accommodate their family responsibilities, disability, religious beliefs or culture.

All volunteers must:

  • follow the standards of behaviour outlined in this policy
  • offer support to people who experience discrimination, bullying or sexual harassment, including providing information about how to make a complaint
  • avoid gossip and respect the confidentiality of complaint resolution procedures
  • treat everyone with dignity, courtesy and respect.

5. Responsibilities of the Management Committee

The Management Committee must also:

  • model appropriate standards of behaviour
  • take steps to educate and make volunteers aware of their obligations under this policy and the law
  • intervene quickly and appropriately when they become aware of inappropriate behaviour in accordance with this policy
  • investigate and address any complaints about breaches of this policy
  • ensure volunteers who raise an issue or make a complaint are not victimised
  • ensure that recruitment decisions are based on merit.
  • all incidents set out hereunder – no matter how large or small or who is involved – require the Management Committee to respond quickly and appropriately.

6. Unacceptable Conduct

BWIB recognises that comments and behaviour that do not offend one person can offend another. This policy requires all volunteers to respect other people’s limits.

6.1 Codes of Practice:

Discrimination, bullying and sexual harassment are unacceptable at BWIB and are unlawful under the following legislation:

  • Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth)
  • Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth)
  • Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth)
  • Age Discrimination Act 2004 (Cth)
  • Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (Cth).

    Volunteers found to have engaged in such conduct including conduct shown below might be counselled, warned or disciplined. Severe or repeated breaches can lead to dismissal.

6.2 Discrimination Definition

Discrimination is treating, or proposing to treat, someone unfavourably because of a personal characteristic protected by the law, such as sex, age, race or disability.

Discrimination can occur:

Directly, when a person or group is treated less favourably than another person or group in a similar situation because of a personal characteristic protected by law (see list below).

For example, a volunteer is harassed and humiliated because of their race; or A volunteer is refused promotion because they are ‘too old’

Indirectly, when an unreasonable requirement, condition or practice is imposed that has, or is likely to have, the effect of disadvantaging people with a personal characteristic protected by law (see list below).

Protected personal characteristics under federal discrimination law include:

  • a disability, disease or injury, including work-related injury
  • parental status or status as a carer, for example, because they are responsible for caring for children or other family members
  • race, colour, descent, national origin, or ethnic background
  • age, whether young or old, or because of age in general
  • sex
  • industrial activity, including being a member of an industrial organisation like a trade union or taking part in industrial activity, or deciding not to join a union
  • religion
  • pregnancy and breastfeeding
  • sexual orientation, intersex status or gender identity, including gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, queer and heterosexual
  • marital status, whether married, divorced, unmarried or in a de facto relationship or same sex relationship
  • political opinion
  • social origin
  • medical record
  • an association with someone who has, or is assumed to have, one of these characteristics, such as being the parent of a child with a disability.

    It is also against the law to treat someone unfavourably because you assume they have a personal characteristic or may have it at some time in the future.

6.3 Bullying Definition

  • If someone is being bullied because of a personal characteristic protected by equal opportunity law, it is a form of discrimination.
  • Bullying can take many forms, including jokes, teasing, nicknames, emails, pictures, text messages, social isolation or ignoring people, or unfair work practices.
  • Under Federal law, this behaviour does not have to be repeated to be discrimination – it may be a one- off event.

6.4 Behaviours that may constitute bullying include:

  • sarcasm and other forms of demeaning language threats, abuse or shouting
  • coercion
  • isolation
  • inappropriate blaming
  • ganging up
  • constant unconstructive criticism
  • deliberately withholding information or equipment that a person needs to do their job or access their entitlements
  • unreasonable refusal of requests for leave, training or other workplace benefits.

Sexual Harassment Definition


Sexual harassment is a specific and serious form of harassment. It is unwelcome sexual behaviour, which could be reasonably expected to make a person feel offended, humiliated or intimidated. Sexual harassment can be physical, spoken or written. It can include:

  • comments about a person’s private life or the way they look
  • sexually suggestive behaviour, such as leering or staring
  • brushing up against someone, touching, fondling or hugging
  • sexually suggestive comments or jokes
  • displaying offensive screen savers, photos, calendars or objects
  • repeated unwanted requests to go out
  • requests for sex
  • sexually explicit posts on social networking sites
  • insults or taunts of a sexual nature
  • intrusive questions or statements about a person’s private life
  • sending sexually explicit emails or text messages
  • inappropriate advances on social networking sites
  • accessing sexually explicit internet sites
  • 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.
  • Just because someone does not object to inappropriate behaviour in the workplace at the time, it does not mean that they are consenting to the behaviour.

    Sexual harassment is covered in the workplace when it happens at work, at work-related events, between people sharing the same workplace, or between colleagues outside of work. All volunteers have the same rights and responsibilities in relation to sexual harassment.

    A single incident is enough to constitute sexual harassment – it doesn’t have to be repeated.

6.5 Victimisation Definition

Victimisation is subjecting or threatening to subject someone to a detriment because they have asserted their rights under equal opportunity law, made a complaint, helped someone else make a complaint, or refused to do something because it would be discrimination, sexual harassment or victimisation. Victimisation is against the law.

It is also victimisation to threaten someone (such as a witness) who may be involved in investigating an equal opportunity concern or complaint.

Victimisation is a very serious breach of this policy and is likely (depending on the severity and circumstances) to result in formal discipline against the perpetrator.

BWIB has a zero tolerance approach to victimisation.

6.6 Confidentiality

It is unacceptable for volunteers at BWIB to talk with other volunteers members, clients or suppliers about any complaint of discrimination or harassment.

Breaching the confidentiality of a formal complaint investigation or inappropriately disclosing personal information obtained in a professional role (for example, as a manager) is a serious breach of this policy and may lead to formal discipline or dismissal.

7. Equal Opportunity

BWIB is an equal opportunity association that will provide equality in selection of all volunteers and Committee Members.

Every person will be given a fair and equitable chance to compete for appointment and roles, and to pursue their career as effectively as others.

Decisions relating to appointment, roles and career development will be determined according to individual merit and competence. All recruitment and job selection decisions at BWIB will be based on the skills and abilities of the candidate as measured against the inherent requirements of the position – regardless of personal characteristics.

It is unacceptable and may be against the law to ask job candidates questions, or to in any other way seek information, about their personal characteristics, unless this can be shown to be directly relevant to a genuine requirement of the position.

8. Complaints Process

BWIB strongly encourages any volunteer member who believes they have been discriminated against, bullied, sexually harassed or victimised to take appropriate action by raising this with the President and/or Vice President, who will follow the complaints process as set out hereunder.

Volunteers who do not feel safe or confident to take such action may seek assistance from a Management Committee appointee for advice and support or action their behalf.

8.1 Internal complaint

A volunteer or paid staff member who believes they have been harassed (the complainant) should:

  • if comfortable to do so, inform the alleged harasser the behaviour is offensive, unwelcome, against the organisation’s policy and should stop
  • make a note of the date, time and location of the incident/s
  • if not comfortable to confront the alleged harasser or if unwelcome behaviour continues, report to the nominated sexual harassment contact
  • if this is inappropriate, speak to another senior member of the organisation, such as a senior manager, the head of the organisation or a member of the board.

    The sexual harassment contact will follow the procedures set out below. At any time the complainant has the right to discontinue this process.

    8.2 Complaints process

    When a complaint is received, the sexual harassment contact will:

  • obtain and record a full, step-by-step account of the incident/s
  • ensure the organisation’s process for handling the complaint is understood
  • ascertain the complainant’s preferred outcome, e.g. an apology, the behaviour to cease, a change in working arrangements
  • agree on the next step: informal resolution or formal investigation
  • keep a confidential record of all details of this discussion and subsequent steps in the process.


    8.3 Informal resolution

    Where a complainant has chosen informal resolution, following an informal process the sexual harassment contact will:


  • inform the alleged harasser of the complaint and provide an opportunity to respond
  • ensure both parties understand their rights and responsibilities under the organisation’s policy if possible, mediate an outcome that is satisfactory for the complainant
  • ensure that confidentiality is maintained
  • follow up to ensure the behaviour does not re-occur.

Formal investigation


If a formal investigation is requested by the complainant, or if an informal resolution fails, the sexual harassment contact will escalate the matter to the President of the organisation.

That person will:

  • afford natural justice to all involved
  • interview all directly concerned, separately
  • interview witnesses, separately
  • keep records of the interviews and investigation
  • ensure confidentiality and minimise disclosure
  • make a determination as to whether there is sufficient evidence that a reasonable person could conclude, on the balance of probabilities (i.e. it’s more likely than not), that an incident/incidents of sexual harassment as defined by the legislation has occurred
  • in such a case, determine appropriate action, which may include a change of duties for the harasser, change to working arrangements or, where the incidents were frequent and/or severe, dismissal
  • where it cannot be determined by the required test, that an incident/incidents of sexual harassment as defined by the legislation has occurred, may still take action to ensure the proper functioning of the workplace; but these actions should not prejudice any party. They will also continue to closely monitor the situation and provide retraining where required
  • check to ensure the action meets the needs of the complainant and organisation.
  • Outcomes as they affect the complainant will be discussed with the complainant to ensure that needs are met, where appropriate.


    8.5 External Complaint

    A volunteer or paid staff member who has been harassed may choose to take their complaint to the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission.

    Contact for the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission: 1300 292 153

9. More information

If you have a query about this policy or need more information please contact the President.