Anti-Discrimination and Freedom from Harassment - Governing Policy

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Anti-Discrimination and Freedom from Harassment - Governing Policy


Approval authority
Responsible officer
Vice-Chancellor and President
Designated officer
Director, Human Resources
First approved
26 November 2002
Last amended
31 January 2017
Effective start date
25 June 2014
Review date
25 June 2019
Related documents
Enterprise Risk Management and Resilience - Governing Policy
Equity and Diversity - Governing Policy
Health, Safety and Wellbeing - Governing Policy
Preventing and Responding to Workplace Bullying - Managerial Policy
Responding to Workplace Bullying - Procedures
Staff Code of Conduct - Governing Policy
Staff Discrimination and Harassment Complaint - Procedures
Student Complaints and Appeals - Governing Policy
Student Complaints and Appeals - Procedures
Student Conduct - Governing Policy
Student General Misconduct - Procedures
Student Grievance Resolution - Governing Policy
Student Grievance Resolution - Procedures
Student Review and Appeals - Procedures
Related legislation / standards
Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (Qld)
Age Discrimination Act 2004 (Cwlth)
Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cwlth)
Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cwlth)
Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (Cwlth)
Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cwlth)
USC Student Charter

1. Purpose of policy

The University of the Sunshine Coast has a legal and moral responsibility to ensure that staff, students and visitors are not subjected to behaviours or practices that may constitute discrimination or harassment.

2. Policy scope and application

This policy applies to all University staff, officers, students and visitors.

3. Definitions

Please refer to the University’s Glossary of Terms for policies and procedures. Terms and definitions identified below are specific to these procedures and are critical to its effectiveness:

Discrimination means to treat an individual less favourably because of an attribute or to impose unreasonable terms or conditions for which individuals with a particular attribute are unable to comply. Attributes include:

   parental status



   religious belief or activity

   political belief or activity

   relationship status


   lawful sexual activity

   gender identity



   race, nationality or ethnic origin

   disability or impairment

   trade union activity

   family responsibilities

   physical appearance (body shape and size)

   association with, or relation to, a person identified on the basis of any of the above attributes.

Discrimination can be either direct or indirect. Direct discrimination takes place when an individual is disadvantaged or treated less favourably than another person. Indirect discrimination happens when a practice or policy appears to be fair because it treats everyone the same way but actually disadvantages people from a particular group.

Vilification on the grounds of religion, sexuality or gender identity is also unlawful.

Harassment is any form of behaviour that is unwelcome, unsolicited, unreciprocated and usually (but not always) repeated. It is behaviour that is likely to offend, humiliate or intimidate. Harassment can be based on any of the attributes listed under the definition of discrimination and for example can include sexual, disability, racial, sexuality or gender based harassment.

Sexual harassment means any unsolicited, unwelcome and unreciprocated behaviour act or conduct of a sexual nature that embarrasses, humiliates or offends other persons. It can be a single incident or a persistent pattern and can range from subtle behaviour to explicit demands for sexual activity or even criminal assault and including but not limited to the following examples:

   inappropriate jokes or comments with sexual connotations

   the display of offensive material

   stares and leers or offensive hand or body gestures

   comments and questions about another person’s sexual conduct and/or private relationships

   persistent unwelcome invitations

   requests for sexual favours

   offensive written, telephone or electronic mail or other computer system communications

   unnecessary close physical proximity including persistently following a person

   unwelcome physical contact such as brushing against or touching a person

   denigrating comments regarding a person’s gender or sexual preference

   negative behaviours, e.g., intimidation or exclusions related to the sex of the recipient

Victimisation means treating someone unfairly because they have made, or intend to make, a discrimination or harassment complaint. This also includes those who have supported another person in making a complaint. Victimisation of any person involved in a complaint is unacceptable and may constitute an infringement of the Staff Code of Conduct – Governing Policy or Student Conduct – Governing Policy.

Workplace bullying is defined as repeated and unreasonable behaviour directed towards a worker or a group of workers that creates a risk to health and safety. For further information, refer to the University’s Preventing and Responding to Workplace Bullying – Governing Policy. It is possible for a person to be bullied, harassed and discriminated against at the same time.

4. Policy Statement

4.1 Principles

The University is committed to fostering the right of individuals to be free from discrimination and harassment while engaged in activities undertaken as part of their study, employment, or other forms of association with the University of the Sunshine Coast.

All members of the University community are to be treated with courtesy and respect in accordance with the Staff Code of Conduct – Governing Policy and the Student Conduct – Governing Policy. Discrimination and harassment will not be tolerated under any circumstances and the University will take all reasonable steps to eliminate discrimination and harassment of or by staff, students, visitors and other members of the University community.

The University will use educative approaches for the prevention of discrimination and harassment, ensuring staff and students know their rights and responsibilities, and to encourage the reporting of behaviour that breaches this policy.

Should a complaint of alleged harassment or discrimination arise, the University will take timely and appropriate action through the following procedures:

  • In the case of a student making an allegation, the Student Grievance Resolution – Governing Policy and associated Procedures.
  • In the case of staff members or University visitors making an allegation, the Staff Discrimination and Harassment Complaint - Procedures.

5. Authorities/Responsibilities

The following authorities are delegated under this policy:

Activity University Officer
Ensuring the maintenance of a work and study environment which is free from discrimination and harassment All staff, students and visitors
Ensuring that, when an allegation of discrimination or harassment is brought to their attention, that appropriate action to remedy the situation is expeditiously taken. Managers and supervisors
Monitoring and reporting regularly to the Vice-Chancellor and President on the operation of this policy Director, Human Resources Director, Student Services and Engagement


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