Discrimination, bullying and harassment procedure

1.1 Introduction

Austonia Trades P/L (Company) is fully committed to ensuring that its workplace is free from unlawful discrimination, harassment, and bullying. The Company considers that discrimination, harassment and bullying are unacceptable and will not tolerate workplace discrimination, harassment (including sexual harassment) and bullying. Individuals found to have committed or condoned such behaviour may be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment.

1.2 Scope

This Discrimination, Harassment & Bullying Procedure (Procedure) applies to all Austonia Trades P/L employees or potential employees, clients, suppliers, contractors, subcontractors and to all persons entering an Austonia Trades P/L workplace.

This Procedure is not limited to ordinary working hours and applies at work functions, after work hours while staying on-site in camps, when using social media or communicating electronically, at the dry and wet mess, or during work related training and travel.

1.3 Legislation

Legislation exists at the federal and state level in Australia making discrimination, harassment, bullying and victimisation unlawful in certain circumstances. This legislation includes:

  • Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth)
  • Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth)
  • Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth)
  • Age Discrimination Act 2004 (Cth)
  • Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth)
  • Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (Cth)
  • Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (WA)
  • Work Health and Safety Act 2020 (WA)

1.4 Employee Responsibilities and Rights

All Austonia Trades P/L employees:

  • have a responsibility to ensure their own behaviour does not offend, intimidate, or threaten others;
  • have the right to make a complaint of discrimination, harassment (including sexual harassment) or bullying and have the complaint taken seriously and dealt with quickly and effectively without being penalised or victimised;
  • have the responsibility to report any behaviour they witness that may be in breach of this Procedure to their Manager, Supervisor or HR; and
  • are encouraged to be proactive and speak out to prevent discrimination, bullying or harassment they witness or observe in the workplace.

All Austonia Trades P/L Supervisors and Managers must:

  • ensure their own behaviour complies with this Procedure;
  • be proactive and speak out to prevent discrimination, bullying or harassment they witness or observe in the workplace; and
  • take reasonable steps to prevent and resolve complaints under this Procedure.

1.5 Standards of Behaviour

In line with the Company’s commitment to creating a workplace which is free from workplace health and safety risks and one which strives to create positive working relationships, all those covered by this Procedure are expected to observe the following minimum standards of behaviour:

  • Being polite and courteous to others;
  • Being respectful of the differences between people and their circumstances;
  • Ensuring they do not engage in any discriminatory or bullying behaviour(s) towards others in, or connected with, the workplace which includes customer, clients, suppliers, supervisors, managers and other visitors;
  • Ensuring they do not assist, or encourage, others in the workplace, or in connection with the workplace to engage in discriminatory or bullying behaviour(s) of any type;
  • Adhering to the complaint process in this Procedure if they experience any discriminatory, bullying or harassing behaviour(s) personally;
  • Reporting any discriminatory, bullying or harassing behaviour(s) they see happening to others in the workplace, or connected with the workplace, in line with this Procedure;
  • Keeping information confidential if involved in any investigation of discrimination, bullying or harassment.

These standards of conduct are intended to operate in addition to, and in conjunction with, other relevant Company policies and procedures including, but not limited to the Company’s Equal Employment Opportunity, Workplace Violence & Bullying and Mental Health & Wellbeing Policies.

The Company will take all complaints of discrimination, bullying, harassment and sexual harassment seriously, and respond with impartiality and confidentially.

1.6 Discrimination

Discrimination occurs when a person, or a group of people, is treated less favourably than another person or group because of their background or certain personal characteristics.

Unlawful discrimination generally comes in one of two forms:

  • Direct discrimination occurs when a person with a protected attribute is treated less favourably, on the basis of the protected attribute, than others without that attribute in the same or similar circumstances. An example of direct discrimination is denying a female applicant the position simply because she is female.
  • Indirect discrimination can occur when an actual or proposed requirement, condition or practice or proposed requirement, condition or practice appears neutral but disproportionately affects or disadvantages persons with the particular attribute, unless reasonable. This means a requirement, condition, or practice that.
    - a person with the attribute does not, or cannot comply with; and
    - a higher proportion of people without the attribute or with a different attribute do or can comply with; and
    - it is not reasonable in the circumstances.

Unlawful discrimination under federal, state and territory laws cover discrimination based on personal characteristics and personal beliefs, called ‘attributes’.

The following list outlines the attributes that can trigger the unlawful discrimination:

  • Race, including colour, national or ethnic origin or immigrant status
  • Sex
  • Religion
  • Political opinion or belief
  • Social origin
  • Age
  • Medical record
  • Criminal record
  • Marital or relationship status
  • Pregnancy or potential pregnancy
  • Family responsibility or family status
  • Breastfeeding
  • Impairment (physical or mental)
  • Disability
  • Nationality
  • Sexual orientation, gender identity1 or intersex status2
  • Industrial activity
  • Any other attributes protected by law.

1.7 Workplace Harassment

Workplace harassment is behaviour that is unwelcome and has the effect of offending, intimidating, belittling, or humiliating the person being harassed.

It may be indirect, unintentional, or deliberately directed at an individual employee or group of employees. Harassment may relate to an actual or perceived attribute such as race, impairment, or age.

Examples of harassment include (this list is not exhaustive):

  • Verbal and written harassment — for example, jokes, remarks, offensive language, gossip, or threat about a person’s racial or ethnic background, disability, sexual preference, physical appearance, or age;
  • Persistent questioning, comments or teasing about a person’s private life;
  • Unwelcome invitations, telephone calls or emails at home;
  • Offensive hand or body gestures;
  • Displaying pictures, posters, or written materials that are offensive or obscene;
  • Phone calls, text messages, email, using computer systems or social media for the retention and distribution of messages and/or material which is threatening, abusive or offensive;
  • Dismissive treatment or stereotypical assumptions about the group to which the person may belong;
  • Visual displays — for example, posters, graffiti, obscene gestures, emblems, emails, and materials downloaded from the Internet.

Some forms of harassment may be a criminal offence and will be dealt with appropriately including by referral to the police or other body. Examples include:

  • Actual or attempted rape or assault
  • Indecent exposure
  • Fighting or other threatening behaviour
  • Obscene electronic materials and items sent through the mail.

For the purpose of this Procedure, ‘harassment’ includes bullying. Harassment is a disciplinary offence and incidents may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment.

1.8 Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is a specific form of harassment that is unlawful under state and federal legislation.

Under the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth), sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature. It occurs when:

  • a person makes an unwelcome sexual advance or an unwelcome request for sexual favours, to the person harassed;
  • a person engages in other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature in relation to the person harassed;
  • a reasonable person, having regard to all the circumstances, would have anticipated the possibility that the person harassed would be offended, humiliated or intimidated.

Examples of sexual harassment include (this list is not exhaustive):

  • Offensive comments or sexual/smutty jokes, ‘humour’ or banter directed towards or in the presence of others;
  • Actual or attempted kissing or hugging;
  • Intrusive questions about a person’s private life or body;
  • Staring, leering or unwelcome touching;
  • Deliberate and unnecessary physical contact such as patting, pinching, touching, or putting an arm around another person;
  • Unwanted invitations to go out on dates or requests for sex;
  • Comments or teasing about a person’s alleged sexual activities or private life;
  • Displaying or distributing sexual material by computer, text message, phone or other method including, pictures, posters, cartoons, graffiti, including on desks, common areas or other work areas;
  • Demands or requests for sexual favours;
  • Use of implicit or explicit coercive sexual behaviour to control, influence or affect the career of job or another person.

Acts of sexual harassment may also constitute criminal offences, such as:

  • physical molestation or assault
  • indecent exposure
  • stalking
  • obscene communications (telephone calls, faxes, letters, emails etc.)
  • Sexual assault including rape or attempted rape.

Conduct must be ‘unwelcome’

It is not sexual harassment to develop friendships or relationships with other people at work. If the interaction is consensual, welcome, and reciprocated, it is not sexual harassment. Conduct will only be deemed sexual harassment if it is ‘unwelcome’. Consensual conduct will not be ‘unwelcome’. Unwelcome conduct is conduct that was not solicited or invited by the person, and the person regarded the conduct as undesirable or offensive. It is a subjective test and relies on how the action was perceived and experienced by the recipient rather than the intention behind it.

Intention is irrelevant

Employees do not need to intend to offend, humiliate or intimidate, or even to know that this was the effect of their own behaviour for this conduct to be sexual harassment. Rather, it is how the conduct is perceived that is relevant.

Other considerations

Sexual harassment doesn’t have to be repeated or continuous. It can be a one-off incident.

Sexual harassment may include conduct which occurs in the workplace or in connection with work. Acts of sexual harassment or victimisation occurring after work or outside of the specific workplace may still be considered ‘in connection’ with an employee’s employment. Therefore, this Procedure is applicable to any conduct occurring after office hours or outside of the workplace (including but not limited to social engagements that may be in connection with the Company). Further, being under the influence of drugs or alcohol is not considered an excuse for engaging in sexual harassment or victimisation.

Sexual harassment in connection to employment can be considered serious misconduct and can be a valid reason for dismissal.

The Company will not tolerate sexual harassment or victimisation and is committed to taking all reasonable steps to prevent an employee from engaging in acts of sexual harassment or victimisation in connection with his or her employment. The Company understands it has a legal responsibility to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace and unless the Company has taken all reasonable steps to prevent an employee from engaging in sexual harassment or victimisation in connection with their employment, the Company may be vicariously liable for such conduct.

This Procedure is a proactive step in preventing sexual harassment in the workplace. Each employee will receive this Procedure upon commencement of employment and can access it for the duration of their employment. All employees will receive training on this Procedure and be notified of any changes.

This Procedure is separate from employment contracts and does not affect Employees’ contractual obligations.

1.9 Sex-based harassment

Sex-based harassment is unlawful and defined as unwelcome conduct of a seriously demeaning nature by reason of the person’s sex in circumstances in which, in line with the existing test for sexual harassment, a reasonable person would have anticipated that the person harassed would be offended, humiliated or intimidated.

Sex-based harassment captures mild forms of inappropriate conduct based on a person’s sex that are not of a sufficiently serious nature to meet the threshold of offensive, humiliating or intimidating, as well as seriously demeaning.

1.10 Bullying

Workplace bullying is a health and safety issue and is unacceptable. All employees have a right to work in a workforce free from discrimination, bullying and harassment.

Workplace bullying is defined in the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) as any repeated unreasonable behaviour directed towards another person or group that creates a risk to health and safety.

Examples of bullying include:

  • Language, threats, inappropriate comments, or behaviour that threatens, offends, or intimidates
  • Isolating, marginalising or non-co-operation at work or excluding from social activities
  • Playing practical jokes or making a person the brunt of a joke
  • Displaying, circulating, or posting images, information (including on social media) that threatens, intimidates, or offends
  • Abusing authority, such as creating unrealistic work expectations, providing inadequate equipment to complete a task, setting tasks above or below a person’s capability, overworking or not providing sufficient work
  • Physical abuse or the threat of physical abuse
  • Withholding information needed to perform a task or role
  • Humiliating putdowns
  • Unreasonable rudeness
  • Systematic targeting
  • Scapegoating of employees.

1.11 Reasonable Management Action

Reasonable management action carried out reasonably does not constitute bullying.

Directing an employee to carry out reasonable duties within the scope of their role or capability, comply with Company or, where required, Client rules, policies, and procedures will generally be considered reasonable management action.

Other examples of reasonable management practice may include:

  • Any legitimate or fair use of performance management processes
  • Disciplinary action
  • Allocation of work
  • Implementation of organisational change or downsizing
  • Action taken to transfer or redeploy an employee or a decision not to promote an employee.

This means that if the Company implements reasonable management practices, such as a performance improvement process in a reasonable manner, it is unlikely that the action will be bullying.

1.12 Victimisation

Victimisation of individuals who make, or intend to make, a complaint of discrimination, bullying or harassment, or who provide evidence or information connected to a complaint of discrimination, bullying or harassment will not be tolerated by the Company.

Employees found engaging in any victimising conduct will be subject to disciplinary action.

Examples of victimisation of a person who makes or intends to make a complaint, or who gives evidence or information in connection with such a complaint include:

  • refusing to employ the person
  • dismissing, or threatening to dismiss, the person from their employment
  • prejudicing, or threatening to prejudice, the person in their employment
  • intimidating, coercing, or imposing any penalty upon the person

1.13 Consequences

The Company does not tolerate discrimination, harassment, or bullying. All individuals covered by this Procedure are expected to adhere to the standards of behaviour contained herein, at all times.

Any employee who is found to have breached this Procedure will be disciplined accordingly, which may include termination of employment or contract of engagement.

1.14 Complaint procedure

An employee who believes they have been discriminated against, harassed, or bullied, or has witnessed another person being discriminated against, harassed, or bullied should speak with their Supervisor / Manager/ HR immediately and follow the process set out in this document.

Any employee who has information to suggest that someone is experiencing discrimination, bullying or harassment in the workplace must report this information immediately, in accordance with this Procedure.

An employee who makes a fraudulent or vexatious complaint may face disciplinary action.

Should an employee make a complaint, the Company will make every effort to deal with the complaint and where necessary investigate the nature of the complaint in a prompt and impartial manner. However, management reserves the right to alter the order of the complaint procedure contained herein and not to follow the specified sequence if deemed necessary.

Amicable Resolution

In the first instance, the aggrieved employee should, wherever practicable, and if they feel comfortable doing so, attempt to amicably resolve the matter with the employee(s) or otherwise who are involved. When confronting the issue, the individual should clearly state the discrimination or offensive behaviour experienced, explain that the behaviour is unwelcome and offensive and ask that the behaviour does not continue. The person may not be aware that their behaviour or conduct was causing offense or was unwelcome.

This is not a compulsory part of the complaint procedure, and if an employee does not wish to confront the person directly, then this is not encouraged.

Where the alleged discrimination, bullying or harassment involves the employee’s direct supervisor or manager and it is not practical for them to directly resolve the matter, they shall immediately notify HR/ Austonia Trades (SolarX) Site Representative who, with the employee’s approval, will endeavour to investigate and resolve the matter on an informal basis in accordance with the procedure set out below.


All those covered by this Procedure should report instances of discrimination, bullying and harassment to their Supervisor/ Manager/ HR immediately. These complaints will be taken seriously and treated in confidence. The Supervisor/ Manager/ HR will handle this complaint by using the procedure set out below.

Informal Complaint Procedure

An informal complaint procedure includes a range of alternatives which can be applied in a flexible manner to address different complaints in consideration of the relevant circumstances. The informal complaint procedure is intended to be used for less serious allegations of discrimination, bullying and harassment which generally do not warrant disciplinary action being taken. An individual who is unsure of whether to make a formal or informal complaint can always make an informal compliant first and decide if they want to escalate the complaint to a formal complaint after speaking with their Supervisor/ Manager/ HR.

Different options for handling informal complaints may include, but are not limited to:

• Supervisor/ Manager/ HR having a conversation with the individual about the unacceptable behaviour

• Supervisor/ Manager/ HR having a meeting with the individuals concerned in an attempt to reach a resolution.

Formal Complaint Procedure

Written Complaint Lodged

Where an individual wishes to lodge a formal complaint, they will be required to do so by communicating this in writing to HR/ Austonia Trades (SolarX) Site Representative. A written complaint shall include the names of individuals concerned, details of the incident(s) and the names of any witness’s present. Confidentiality while handling complaints will be applied in accordance with this Procedure (see below).

Formal Investigation Commenced

Where a written complaint has been lodged, a formal investigation procedure will commence immediately. Formal investigations may be conducted by HR/Austonia Trades (SolarX) Site Representative or an external person who is appointed by the Company e.g., an independent investigator.

Regardless of whether the investigation is carried out by a Company staff member, or by an independent body/person, the investigator will aim to follow the procedure set out below:

  1. Clarify details of what took place and ensure that all necessary information is obtained.
  2. Identify the outcome the complainant is seeking.
  3. Discuss with the complainant their legal rights, including lodging a formal complaint with the relevant state or federal tribunal.
  4. Discuss the complaint made with the person/s accused of bullying or harassment.
  5. Making a determination as to whether the alleged behaviour occurred and if it constituted bullying or harassment.

The Company will ensure a timely and appropriate resolution of the investigation is reached and communicated to all parties involved. If the Company feels it is appropriate in the interests of health and safety of employees concerned, and/or the efficiency of the investigation process, employees may be requested to refrain from attending work for a period of time whilst the investigation is underway. Alternatively, employees may be given different duties or work to perform while the investigation is being conducted. Employees who are requested to do either of these will be paid at their normal rate of pay during this period.


An employee will not be penalised or victimised for making a complaint.

Wherever possible, the Company will make every effort to maintain confidentiality of any complaint with only those persons who need to know about the actual complaint being privy to the nature of the complaint. Whilst the person completing the investigation will endeavour to preserve the confidentiality of the complainant and the person complained of, it may be necessary to speak with other workers or people involved to determine what happened and to maintain the integrity of the investigation process.

The Company may still act on concerns raised in relation to discrimination, bullying or harassment if consistent with the Company’s commitment (and legal obligation) to taking reasonable and practical steps to prevent such behaviour occurring. The Company will consult with the victim before taking any action.

Where potentially unlawful conduct has occurred, the Company will need to alert the appropriate authorities.

Those people who are involved in the complaint (including the complainant, witnesses etc.) are also under a duty to maintain confidentiality and display a commitment to uphold the integrity of the investigation process. If the complainant chooses to bring a support person with them to any meetings, they too are bound by confidentiality. Gossiping and/or the spreading of rumours as a result of, or in connection with, a process followed under this Procedure will not be tolerated under any circumstances and may lead to further disciplinary action for those concerned.


The outcomes of a formal or informal complaint procedures will depend on the nature of the complaint, its severity and what is deemed appropriate in the relevant circumstances.

Where the results of an investigation suggest that an individual is guilty of discrimination, bullying or harassment, appropriate disciplinary procedures will be followed. The disciplinary action may include termination of employment, which may be instant dismissal where serious misconduct is deemed to have occurred.

Where the complaint involves a contractor or agent of the Company and an investigation process reveals that a person has engaged in unlawful conduct or other behaviour, which is prohibited by this Procedure, those concerned may face termination of their contracts immediately, or will not be renewed in the future.

In addition to any disciplinary remedies, other action may be deemed necessary to resolve or remedy the behaviour complained of, including but not limited to:

  • providing training to employees concerned
  • requiring employees who have breached this policy to apologise to appropriate person(s)
  • adjusting working arrangements where appropriate
  • providing counselling to employees (complainant and the person complained of)
  • placing employees on performance improvement plans to ensure improved behaviour
  • providing coaching and mentoring

Appeals Procedure (Internal)

If any parties involved are unhappy with the outcome, or the way the complaint handling procedure was managed by the Company, they may refer the complaint to HR/Austonia Trades (SolarX) Site Representative or an external investigator for review.

Once notified, HR/ Executive/ external investigator will conduct a review of the procedure followed, the outcome issued and make a final determination on the issue. Once this determination is made, the person who has made the appeal will be notified of the outcome and this determination will be final.

External Resolution

Employees may seek information/resolution from external agencies such as the Equal Opportunity Commission, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission or the Fair Work Commission at any stage of the process, including for appeals of decisions made. However, employees are encouraged to resolve issues internally before seeking outside intervention.

1.15 Variation

The Company reserves the right to vary this Procedure from time to time.

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