Discrimination, Sexual Harassment and Bullying
Everyone has the right to feel safe, and the University aims to provide staff and students with a physical and online environment that is free from unlawful discrimination, sexual harassment and bullying.
Seeking advice and support
The University takes all allegations of discrimination, sexual harassment and bullying very seriously and the Safer Community Program is here to help you. If you, or someone you know, have experienced discrimination, sexual harassment or bullying, we are here to provide support, referrals and information to assist you.
If you are a staff member experiencing discrimination, sexual harassment or bullying, please contact a Human Resources representative for support and advice in the first instance. Or, if this is not an option, please contact the Inappropriate Workplace Behaviour Line.
The Safer Community Program is located in Stop 1 (Parkville), 757 Swanston Street.
Or get help now with our list of important telephone numbers and services.
What is discrimination?
Direct discrimination occurs when a person treats, or proposes to treat, someone with a protected personal characteristic unfavourably because of that personal characteristic. Indirect discrimination occurs a when an unreasonable requirement, condition or practice is imposed that disadvantages a person or group because of a personal characteristic.
In Victoria it is unlawful to discriminate against someone on the basis of personal characteristics:
- employment activity
- carer and parental status disability
- gender identity
- physical features
- industrial activity
- marital status
- political belief or activity
- pregnancy and breastfeeding
- religious belief or activity
- sexual orientation
- expunged homosexual conviction
- lawful sexual activity
- personal association with someone who has,or is assumed to have, one of these personal characteristics
What is sexual harassment?
Sexual harassment means any verbal, written or physical behaviour of a sexual nature that is unwelcome and uninvited that makes the other person feel offended, humiliated or intimidated. Sexual harassment may be a single incident or a series of incidents. Intention is irrelevant to the definition.
- displaying pornographic or sexually explicit material such as posters, screen savers etc.
- staring or leering
- unwelcome physical contact, gestures or other non-verbal communication
- sexually explicit emails, comments through social media, jokes or conversations
- sexual insults or taunting
- asking someone for sex or repeated unwanted requests to go out on dates
- making promises or threats in return for sexual favours
- sexual orientation-based insults or taunts
Some types of sexual harassment may also be offences under criminal law. These include indecent exposure, stalking, sexual assault and obscene or threatening communications, such as phone calls, letters, emails, text messages and posts on social networking sites.
What is bullying?
Bullying is repeated, unreasonable behaviour directed towards a person or group, that creates a risk to health and safety.
- Unreasonable behaviour means behaviour that a reasonable person, having regard to all the circumstances, would see as unreasonable, including behaviour that is victimising, humiliating, intimidating or threatening.
- Repeated behaviour means an established pattern of behaviour and not a single incident. Risk to health and safety includes risk to the mental or physical health of the person.
Bullying can occur between students, by a student towards a staff member, or by a staff member towards a student.
When repeated or part of a consistent pattern of behaviour, these behaviours could be classified as bullying:
- physical or verbal abuse
- yelling, screaming or offensive language
- excluding or isolating someone
- deliberately withholding information that is vital for effective performance
- spreading rumours or innuendo about someone
- psychological harassment
- unjustified criticism or complaints
- interfering with someone's personal property or equipment
- teasing or making someone the brunt of pranks or practical jokes
This list does not cover every type of behaviour that may constitute bullying.
Providing constructive criticism or advice, differences of opinion or interpersonal conflicts are not considered bullying.
While a single incident of unreasonable behaviour might not constitute bullying, it may have the potential to escalate into bullying and should not be ignored. In the first instance, telling someone that you find their behaviour inappropriate can be an effective way to resolve concerns.