Friends of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne Inc.
Equal Opportunity and Workplace Harassment Policy 


In this document “we” means the Friends of the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne Inc.

Equal Opportunity

The Friends believes Equal Opportunity can deliver advantages to our workplace.

Treating people fairly has a positive impact on staff, members and volunteers and enhances our reputation as an employer of choice.

Equal Opportunity principles are in line with our aim to get the best from our people and give them the greatest opportunity to do their work well.

All staff and volunteers are covered by our Equal Opportunity Policy (enshrined in the Victorian Equal Opportunity Act 2010). 

Equal Opportunity means fairly treating staff, volunteers and members.

Fair treatment is:
treating people as individuals without making judgments based on irrelevant personal characteristics
creating a work environment free from discrimination, harassment, bullying and victimisation
allowing all employees to work to their full potential
making decisions based on merit.

Direct and Indirect Discrimination

Discrimination can be direct or indirect. Indirect discrimination is treatment which appears to be equal but is unfair on certain people. To be unlawful it must also be unreasonable.

Unlawful discrimination is unfairly treating people because of their particular personal characteristics or because they belong to a certain group including (amongst others) age, sex, chosen gender, race, pregnancy, religion and disability.

Workplace harassment 

Introduction

All employees and volunteers of the Friends are covered by this policy. Employees and volunteers are expected to promote the policy’s objectives in the workplace.

We wish to create and maintain a workplace culture in which all people treat one another with respect. We are committed to ensuring that our workplace is free from any form of workplace harassment.

We will not tolerate behaviour in our workplace that will upset, offend or humiliate others nor any act by an employee or volunteer resulting in unlawful discrimination or harassment
every volunteer, staff member and supervisor has a responsibility to ensure that workplace and sexual harassment does not occur.  

What are our responsibilities?

We have a responsibility to:
implement appropriate policies advising staff and volunteers of their rights and obligations regarding workplace harassment
ensure policies are available to and understood by all staff and volunteers
ensure compliance with the workplace harassment policy 
ensure that reports of workplace harassment are treated promptly, seriously and confidentially
investigate all breaches of the policy in a fair and timely manner
take disciplinary action for breaches of the policy
ensure that you will not be disadvantaged by making a report of workplace harassment.
ensure that anyone making a report of workplace harassment will not be disadvantaged.

What are your responsibilities?

You have a responsibility to:
comply with this policy and use and encourage appropriate workplace behaviour.
offer support to anyone who feels they are harassed and encourage them to seek help
maintain confidentiality

Communication is the key to the effective operation of this policy. 

The most serious forms of workplace harassment include:
sexual harassment
workplace bullying
racial or religious vilification
victimisation

Definitions

Sexual harassment
Sexual harassment includes any unwelcome behaviour of a sexual nature that could be reasonably expected to make someone feel offended, humiliated or intimidated.
This may include (but is not restricted to):
an unwelcome sexual advance
a request for sexual favours
unwelcome comments about someone's sex life or physical appearance
leering and ogling
sexually offensive comments, stories or jokes
displaying sexually offensive photos, pinups or calendars, reading matter or objects
sexual propositions or continued requests for dates
physical contact such as touching or fondling, or unnecessary brushing up against someone
indecent assault or rape (these are criminal offences)

Sexual harassment may occur between one volunteer and another, between volunteers and staff members, or between volunteers and clients, suppliers or visitors.  It may occur wherever volunteers and paid staff are interacting with others in the context of their position in the organisation, including field trips, work off site and social functions.

Behaviour which is consensual, welcome, reciprocated or based on mutual attraction is not sexual harassment.

Workplace bullying
Workplace bullying is persistent, vindictive or aggressive behaviour that intimidates humiliates and/or undermines another person.

Behaviour will not be considered bullying if: 
the behaviour is management action (e.g. a manager telling a staff member that their work is of a poor standard)
it is reasonable for the management action to be taken
the management action is carried out in a manner that is reasonable.
 
The distinction between reasonable and unreasonable management action depends on the circumstances. It will not be determined based on the worker’s perception of the action but from an objective perspective. The management actions do not need to be perfect or ideal to be reasonable. 

Racial or religious vilification
Racial or religious vilification is conduct which incites hatred against, serious contempt for, revulsion or severe ridicule of another person or class of persons on the grounds of their race, religious belief or religious activity.
Such conduct is unlawful. If it is also intentional, then it may constitute a criminal offence

Victimisation
Victimisation is subjecting an individual to any disadvantage (or threatening to do so) because they have:
made a complaint of harassment, discrimination or bullying
assisted in the investigation of a complaint
produced information or documents in relation to a complaint
attended a conciliation conference
appeared as a witness

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

Reports of any harassment 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 a right to have a supporter or representative chosen by them present when he/she responds to the allegations made.

No volunteer or paid staff member will be treated unfairly as a result of making a complaint of sexual harassment. Immediate disciplinary action will be taken against anyone who victimises or retaliates against someone who has made a complaint of harassment.

In the event of harassment

Workplace harassment is not always intentional. If the employee or volunteer is unsure whether their behaviour is offensive or inappropriate – ASK. You can ask either the person concerned, the Manager Administration, the Volunteer Convener or the Secretary.

If your behaviour is offensive or inappropriate, then APOLOGISE AND STOP IT.

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

Reports of any harassment 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 volunteer or paid staff member will be treated unfairly as a result of making a complaint of sexual harassment.  Immediate disciplinary action will be taken against anyone who victimises or retaliates against someone who has made a complaint of harassment.
We will afford natural justice to any person involved in a dispute.

Making a complaint

The filing of vexatious or intentionally false reports will be treated as seriously as workplace harassment itself and may result in disciplinary action. It could also result in legal action by the person against whom the false report is made.

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 the matter in the first instance to the Manager Administration, the Volunteer Convener or directly to the Secretary.

The designated person will follow the procedures set out below.  At any time the complainant has the right to discontinue this process.

Complaints process
When a complaint is received, the workplace 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, either informal resolution or formal investigation
keep a confidential record of all details of this discussion and subsequent steps in the process.

Informal resolution
Where a complainant has chosen informal resolution, the following process is to be adhered to: 
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 Secretary will escalate to the Executive and in turn Council.

That process will need to:

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
in the case of sexual harassment, 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
in the case of sexual harassment, where it cannot be determined by the required test, that an incident/incidents of sexual harassment as defined by the legislation has occurred, it is still necessary to 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.

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

Policy adapted from Volunteering Victoria website and previous equal opportunity policy on FRBGM website.

Authorisation

Signature of FRBGM Secretary


Date of approval by Council


Friends of Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne Inc.