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Respect for Diversity Policy

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Section 1 -  Purpose of Policy

(1) This Policy provides an outline of the aims and strategies of the University of Wollongong to provide an environment where the diversity of its members is respected. The University seeks to promote freedom of speech while also equipping all students, staff and affiliates with the understanding necessary to effectively function in a work and study environment that is free from all manifestations of unlawful discrimination, and recognises the positive value of a diverse community of staff, affiliates and students.

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Section 2 - Application and Scope

(2) The University actively recruits and attracts students, staff and affiliates from over 70 countries and from diverse socio-economic and religious backgrounds, diverse sexualities and genders, and a cross section of ages. Respect for diversity is therefore critical to maintaining a harmonious environment within all work, teaching and learning, research and social activities of the University.

(3) This Policy is supported by the Inclusive Language Guidelines.

(4) This Policy applies to all UOW students, staff and affiliates studying and/or working on any Australian campus or representing the University in any location within Australia and internationally in any capacity.

(5) For staff who are employed by the University and are working at international locations, the laws of the country will be applied, however staff are expected to abide by the principles outlined in this Policy.

(6) All persons subject to this Policy, along with visitors to UOW facilities are entitled to expect to be treated with the principles of respect outlined in this Policy.

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Section 3 - Policy Principles

(7) This Policy is based on the following guiding principles:

  1. that individuals have the right to express their ideas, theories and opinions while respecting the rights of others without fear of discrimination, harassment or bullying;
  2. that all discriminatory behaviour which is unlawful or offensive is unacceptable and contrary to the University’s objective of creating an environment which allows all students, staff and affiliates to achieve their full potential; and
  3. that discrimination, in its many manifestations, is unlawful under State and Federal legislation. The University takes seriously its obligations under NSW State and Federal legislation.
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Section 4 - Legislative Requirements

(8) The following legislative requirements should be considered in conjunction with this Policy:

  1. The Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 makes it unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of:
    1. race, colour, ethnic background, ethno-religious background, descent or nationality;
    2. sex;
    3. marital or domestic status;
    4. actual or perceived past, present, or future disability;
    5. age;
    6. actual or perceived transgender status, or actual or perceived homosexuality; and
    7. actual or perceived, past, present, or future carer’s responsibilities.
  2. the Multicultural NSW Act 2000, sets a legislative requirement for the CEO of each public authority to implement the principles of multiculturalism. The University of Wollongong Multicultural Plan provides a framework for reporting multicultural activities;
  3. the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 makes it unlawful to discriminate because of race, colour, nationality, ethnic or ethno-religious background;
  4. the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 makes it unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of sex, marital or relationship status, pregnancy or potential pregnancy and breastfeeding;
  5. the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 provides protection for everyone in Australia against discrimination based on disability. It is unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of disability. This is includes physical, intellectual, psychiatric, sensory, neurological or learning disabilities, physical disfigurement, and illnesses such as HIV/AIDS; and
  6. the Age Discrimination Act 2004 (Cth) prohibits less favourable treatment not only because of age, but also because of characteristics generally pertaining to age and characteristics generally imputed to people of that age.
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Section 5 - Strategies, Policies, and Principles

(9) This Policy supports the following University principles and policies:

  1. the University’s principles of a shared commitment to promoting and celebrating:
    1. intellectual openness, collegiality and connectivity;
    2. empowerment, flexibility and cultural diversity;
    3. mutual respect and the promotion of equity and social justice;
    4. working towards reconciliation and the success of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities;
    5. recognition and celebration of initiative and enterprise, and agility in decision-making; and
    6. staff and students who are recognised and appreciated for their contributions;
  2. a workforce with strong performance expectations:
    1. the right to a safe and secure environment that is free from discrimination, bullying or harassment; and
    2. a responsibility to:
      1. respect the diversity of the University and broader communities;
      2. behave responsibly and honestly in ways that are considerate of the rights and needs of others and refrain from behaviour that may adversely affect the experiences of others; and
      3. recognise and respect the cultural background and heritage of others.

(10) The University aims to achieve its goals of developing and maintaining an inclusive environment through educational and developmental strategies. These include:

  1. requiring all staff to complete EO Online upon commencement of employment and every two years thereafter. Managers and Supervisors are also required to complete both EO Online Module One and Two;
  2. strongly recommending all incoming undergraduate students to complete Responsibilities, Right, and Respect Online (RRR Online) in their first year of study;
  3. establishing inclusive teaching, learning and research activities where diversity and different learning styles are valued;
  4. considering the principles that support diversity, anti-racism and non-discrimination when reviewing the content of subjects and courses;
  5. providing effective induction and development programs for staff to improve their ability to work effectively in an environment that reflects the diversity of the Australian community;
  6. the use of inclusive language in all academic and administrative written and spoken communication;
  7. raising awareness that body language can be both inclusive and exclusive;
  8. encouraging student and staff involvement in celebrating diversity through campus wide activities including International Week, NAIDOC Week, Reconciliation Week, and Sexuality Week;
  9. celebrating and capitalising on the diverse experiences and talents of students and staff;
  10. expanding links with the local communities to promote values of inclusiveness; and
  11. educating all students and staff to understand their responsibilities under this Policy, and appreciate the consequences of non-compliance with University Policy and relevant state and federal laws.

(11) If students, staff or affiliates experience or observe discrimination or racist behaviour or practices on campus, they are encouraged to address the matter at the time, in the context, and with the people involved, at the most local level possible to prevent repetition or escalation. This may include providing feedback to the person that the terminology or behaviour was offensive; that terminology was misused or behaviour was construed as intimidating or similar; asking the person to stop a particular behaviour or cease the use of the terminology. In situations where this is not possible or the circumstances do not provide an opportunity to do this, the student of staff member should report the incident to an appropriate staff member such as an immediate supervisor or senior staff member.

(12) Confidential advice to assist with addressing such matters may be sourced from:

  1. Senior Manager, Wellbeing, Health and Safety;
  2. People and Culture Business Partners;
  3. specialist units that can advise on grievances (e.g. Complaints Management Centre, People and Culture Division, Student Service). Refer to the Complaints Management Policy for further information;
  4. staff or union representatives;
  5. University counsellors;
  6. Employee Assistance Program (EAP);
  7. Student Residence Managers and Senior Managers;
  8. Student Advocacy Officers; and
  9. Student Support Advisors.

(13) Where a student, staff member or affiliate wishes to make a formal complaint they should do so via the Complaints Management Centre.

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Section 6 - Roles and Responsibilities

(14) Executive Deans, Directors, Heads of Schools and Managers of Units are required to:

  1. implement this Policy in their work area to enable a workplace and study environment where respect for diversity is expected;
  2. ensure that any incident of deliberate lack of respect, that is observed or reported, is dealt with promptly;
  3. provide leadership in demonstrating respect for diversity; and
  4. role model appropriate, respectful professional behaviour.

(15) All staff, affiliates and students are responsible for their own actions, and are responsible for educating themselves in the appropriate standards of behaviour expected of them.

(16) Roles and responsibilities in relation to investigating a lack of respect for diversity are outlined in the Complaints Management Policy and the Procedure for Investigating Grievances and/or the Student Conduct Rules.

(17) All staff, affiliates and students have a responsibility to address concerns regarding respect for diversity in a professional manner. Any staff member, affiliate or student who is found to have made allegations against another person which are not in good faith or which they know to be false may be subject to disciplinary action. This may include an apology, counselling, exclusion from the University or, in the case of staff or affiliates, dismissal.

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Section 7 - Definitions

Word/Term
Definition (with examples if required)
Affiliate
Includes people holding University of Wollongong Honorary Awards as conferred by the University Council, including the awards of Emeritus Professor, Honorary Doctor and University Fellow; people appointed in accordance with the University’s Appointment of Visiting and Honorary Academics Policy; and people engaged by the University as agency staff, contractors, volunteers and work experience students
Bullying
When an individual or group of individuals repeatedly behaves unreasonably towards a person or group of people and that behaviour creates a risk to health and safety.
Discrimination
The Fair Work Ombudsman defines discrimination as when someone is not treated fairly or given the same opportunities because of their race, colour, sex, sexual orientation, age, gender identity, gender expression, intersex status, marital or relationship status, family or carer’s responsibilities, pregnancy, religion, political opinion, national extraction, social origin, disability or physical or mental disability., which includes:
  1. physical, intellectual, psychiatric, sensory, neuroelogical or learning disabilities; physical disfigurement; disorders, illness or diseases that affect thought processes, perceptions of reality, emotions or judgement, or results in disturbed behaviours; presence in body of organisms causing disease or illness (e.g. HIV virus).
Disability
The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth) defines disability as:
  1. total or partial loss of the person’s bodily or mental functions;
  2. total or partial loss of a part of the body;
  3. the presence in the body of organisms causing disease or illness;
  4. the malfunction, malformation or disfigurement of a part of the person’s body;
  5. a disorder or malfunction that results in the person learning differently from a person without the disorder or malfunction; and
  6. a disorder, illness or disease that affects a person’s thought processes, perception of reality, emotions or judgment, or that results in disturbed behaviour;
and includes disability that:
  1. presently exists;
  2. previously existed but no longer exists;
  3. may exist in the future; and
  4. is imputed to a person (meaning it is thought or implied that the person has disability but does not).
Diversity
The Australian Government defines diversity as recognising employees from a wide range of backgrounds.
For example, this can include having employees of different ages, genders, ethnicity, backgrounds, physical ability, sexual orientation, marital status, physical qualities, life experience, political and religious beliefs, work experience or educational background.
EO Online
EO Online is a mandatory self-paced online equal opportunity training program for employees upon commencement of employment and every two years thereafter. It covers all aspects of harassment and bullying and provides case studies and real life examples.
Equity
Providing a workplace free from unlawful discrimination and harassment protecting all staff. Our inclusive values empower all staff to achieve their full potential and remove actual or perceived barriers to participation regardless of gender, age, race, disability, orientation or economic background. Treating people equitably does not mean treating all people the same.
Harassment
Harassment is any form of behaviour that is unwelcome to the recipient/s; offends, intimidates or humiliates the recipient/s; and targets the recipient/s for one of the reasons covered by anti-discrimination laws, such as their sex, race or disability.
Australian Indigenous People
Refers to Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people.
LGBTIQ+
Acronym for people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and/or queer. The + incorporates a broader acceptance of all gender expressions/identities and sexualities.
NAIDOC
NAIDOC originally stood for ‘National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee’. This committee was once responsible for organising national activities during NAIDOC Week and its acronym has since become the name of the week itself.
NAIDOC Week celebrations are held across Australia each July to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Racist
A person with a prejudiced belief that one race is superior to others.
Reconciliation
Reconciliation is about unity and respect between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and non-Indigenous Australians. It is about respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage and valuing justice and equity for all Australians.
Respect
A positive feeling of esteem or deference for a person or other entity (such as a nation or a religion), and also specific actions and conduct representative of that esteem.
RRR Online
Responsibilities Rights and Respect Online (RRR Online) is an interactive online program for students, covering aspects of harassment and bullying and providing strategies for addressing the situations described.
Staff
All people employed by the University including conjoint appointments, whether on continuing, permanent, fixed term, casual or cadet or traineeship basis.
Student
A person registered for a course at the University of Wollongong.