Bullying news — action in Tas and ACT

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Bullying news — action in Tas and ACT

The Tasmanian Government will introduce legislation to increase protection for vulnerable people from workplace bullying. Meanwhile, the board of a public sector organisation in the Australian Capital Territory has been directed to investigate allegations of workplace bullying by senior management.

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The Tasmanian Government will introduce legislation to increase protection for vulnerable people from workplace bullying. Meanwhile, the board of a public sector organisation in the Australian Capital Territory has been directed to investigate allegations of workplace bullying by senior management. 


Legislative amendments to protect vulnerable Tasmanians
 
Proposed amendments to strengthen Tasmania’s anti-discrimination laws are an ‘important step forward’ in protecting vulnerable workers from bullying, according to the State Government.

The Attorney-General, Brian Wightman, said the amendments, which follow recommendations from a review of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1998, would improve the administrative processes of the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner and Anti-Discrimination Tribunal.

‘Some of the changes will bring about important procedural amendments that will improve the complaint handling and dispute resolution processes of the Commissioner and the Tribunal,’ he said.

‘Importantly, the changes will also improve protection for vulnerable Tasmanians who are worried about bullying, whether in the workplace, at school or on-line.’

Expanded prohibitions
 
Wightman said the amendments will expand the prohibition on conduct which offends, humiliates, intimidates, insults or ridicules another person.

‘The prohibition will be extended to conduct which offends, humiliates, intimidates, insults or ridicules another person on the basis of race, age, sexual orientation and disability,’ he said.

‘This is an important step forward in protecting workers, students and others from bullying.’

Wightman said another important amendment to the Act is to ensure effective and proper protection against discrimination for people on the basis of their gender identity or intersex status.

‘The Act currently provides limited protection on this basis and the amendments will ensure that the protection is clear and comprehensive,’ he said.

The legislation is expected to be tabled in Parliament this week.



Senior managers face investigation
 
WorkSafe ACT took action last Friday (21 September) to direct the board of a community sector organisation to conduct an investigation into allegations of bullying by some of its senior managers.

The Work Safety Commissioner, Mark McCabe, said a WorkSafe ACT inspector issued an Improvement Notice directing the Board to commence an investigation into serious allegations by several of the organisation’s workers.

‘This is a reminder to board members and senior executives in all organisations, be they public or private sector, of their obligation to take all reasonable steps to ensure the health and safety of their workers,’ he said

‘The ACT’s Code of Practice for Preventing and Responding to Bullying indicates that where there are serious allegations, or allegations involving multiple workers or covering a long period of time, an investigation should be the first step taken.’

‘Such investigations should always be conducted by an impartial and suitably qualified person and should adhere to the principles of natural.’

WHS breach
 
McCabe reminded senior executives and board members that to not act in accordance with the Code of Practice could in some circumstances result in both their organisation and the executives themselves being found to be in breach of the ACT’s work health and safety laws.

‘If bullying has not occurred, then a properly conducted investigation should find that,’ he said.

‘If, on the other hand, an independent investigation substantiates the allegations, then the employer will be in a position to act to protect their workers from any ongoing threat to their health and safety.’

‘I call upon all of the Territory’s managers and workers alike to take a stand against bullying. It has no place in our workplaces any more than it has a place in our schoolyards or our homes.’
 
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