Equal opportunity

POLICY NO: C-2.4

DATE: 24 June 1991

AMENDMENTS: Council, 7 April 1997 (Resolution 97/2/20);
3 September 1998 Revision (SMG);
11 October 1999 (Manager: Equity and Diversity Unit), (Director: Human Resources);
Council 18 May 2004
1 August 2005 (Director: Human Resources)
18 August 2006 (Director: Human Resources)
16 June 2014 (Director: Human Resources)

REFERENCE AUTHORITY: Executive Director: People, Talent and Culture

CROSS REFERENCES: Commonwealth Racial Discrimination Act 1975, incorporating the Racial Hatred Act 1995
Commonwealth Sex Discrimination Act 1984
Commonwealth Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act 1986
Commonwealth Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012
Commonwealth Age Discrimination Act 2004
Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act 1992
South Australian Equal Opportunity Act 1984
South Australian Racial Vilification Act 1996
South Australia Whistleblowers Protection Act 1993
South Australian Work Health and Safety Act 2012
South Australian Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1986
University of South Australia Act 1990
University of South Australia Sexual Harassment Policy
University of South Australia Policy for Students with Disabilities
University of South Australia Diversity and Representation on Committees Policy
University of South Australia Inclusive Language Policy
University of South Australia Anti-Racism Policy
University of South Australia Discrimination and Harassment Grievance Procedures (Staff)
University of South Australia Student complaints resolution


Policy statement

The University of South Australia is committed to promoting equal opportunity in education and employment. The University does this in recognition of the principles of equity and in conforming with the spirit and intent of equal opportunity and anti-discrimination legislation. The University accepts its responsibilities in relation to these rights for people while they are engaged in activities undertaken as part of their study or employment with the University.

Definitions

Age discrimination

Age discrimination means unfair treatment of a person on the basis of their age or age group.

Age discrimination often occurs because of incorrect assumptions or stereotypes about people's skills, abilities, personal qualities or needs based on how old or young they are.

Bullying

Refer to the definition of Workplace bullying or harassment.

Disability

Under the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act 1992, disability means: total or partial loss of a person's bodily or mental functions; or total or partial loss of a part of the body; or the presence in the body of organisms causing disease or illness; or the presence in the body of organisms capable of causing disease or illness; or the malfunction, malformation or disfigurement of a part of a person's body; or a disorder or malfunction that results in a person learning differently from a person without the disorder or malfunction; or a disorder, illness, or disease that affects a person's thought processes, perception of reality, emotions or judgement, or that results in disturbed behaviour; and includes a disability that: presently exists; or previously existed but no longer exists; or may exist in the future; or is imputed to a person.

Discrimination

Unlawful discrimination means treating an individual and/or groups in employment and education less favourably because of one of the grounds specified in the relevant legislation.

Diversity

Generally refers to differences in race, gender, ethnic or cultural background, level of physical and mental ability, age, sexual orientation and religion. A productive and fair environment is one that acknowledges diversity and recognises the need to promote equality and a discrimination-free working and learning environment.

Equal opportunity

Equal opportunity means treating people as individuals with different skills and abilities, without making judgements based on stereotypes, or on characteristics as outlined in anti-discrimination legislation. These characteristics include sex, age, race, sexuality, disability, pregnancy, or marital status.

Equal opportunity for women in the workplace (formerly affirmative action)

Equal opportunity for women in the workplace means taking positive steps to remove old barriers, which have prevented women from doing some jobs, or from being given the chance to advance to higher levels within organisations.

Family responsibilities

Refers to a range of duty of care or support responsibilities an individual may have as a member of a family. For example to look after a sick child, to attend a child's school for a parent/teacher interview, or to take a partner or an elderly parent to the doctor.

Harassment

Unwelcome behaviour or language that has the effect of offending, intimidating, or humiliating a person on the basis of their sex, marital status, pregnancy, sexuality, race, disability, age, or political or religious belief, in circumstances which a reasonable person, having regard to all the circumstances, would have anticipated that the person harassed would be offended, humiliated, or intimidated.

Marital status

Being single, married, married but living separately and apart from one's spouse, separated, divorced, widowed, or living with another person in a de facto relationship.

Pregnancy

Refers to presumed or actual pregnancy, or potential pregnancy.

Race

The term 'race' is understood to be flexible and evolving. It includes a person's nationality, country of birth, colour, ancestry, ethnic origin, or people associated with those of a particular race. The word 'race' is used in these procedures to reflect relevant legislation.

Sex

This means whether a person is male or female.

Sexual harassment

Unwelcome sexual behaviour or sexual innuendo that has the effect of offending, intimidating or humiliating a person in circumstances, which a reasonable person having regard to all the circumstances would have anticipated that the person harassed would be offended, humiliated or intimidated.

Sexuality

This means whether a person is heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual or transsexual. It includes presumed sexuality.

Social justice

The right of all staff and students to equality of treatment and opportunity, and the removal of barriers of race, ethnicity, culture, religion, language, gender or place of birth.

Victimisation

Refers to a person being subjected to less favourable treatment because it is known or suspected that the person has made or proposes to lodge a grievance; has provided any information or documents; has attended a conference in relation to a grievance; or has supported someone else lodging a grievance.

Workplace bullying or harassment

Workplace bullying or harassment involves the repeated unreasonable ill-treatment of a person by another or others. It is a form of harassment and discrimination consisting of offensive, abusive, belittling or threatening behaviour directed at an individual or a group in the workplace.

Principles

1 The University of South Australia will take all reasonable steps to identify and eliminate unlawful direct, indirect, and systemic discrimination from its structures and practices in order to promote equality of opportunity for all its staff and students.

2 This policy forms the basis for the University's specific equal opportunity policies. These include the Sexual Harassment Policy, Policy for Students with Disabilities, Diversity and Representation on Committees Policy, Inclusive Language Policy, Anti-Racism Policy and other policies as developed.

3 The University recognises the rights of individuals and groups to be free from discrimination, harassment and bullying on the grounds of:

  • sex, marital status, pregnancy, family responsibilities
  • sexuality
  • race
  • disability
  • political or religious belief
  • age.

4 The University has a firm commitment to equal opportunity principles, and will work towards ensuring that no discriminatory policies or practices exist in any aspect of employment or education.

Implementation requirements

Consistent with legislation, implementation of this policy will use education and conciliation as the principal means to eliminate discrimination and in the resolution of grievances.

An essential element in the implementation of this policy is raising the awareness of all members of the University community of the principles of equity and social justice.

In affirmation of its commitment to equal opportunity the University will:

  •  promote equal opportunity in all aspects of the University's activities and as an integral part of all University policies and practices
  •  adopt policies, procedures, and practices for staff consistent with equal opportunity principles in the areas of admission, teaching, assessment, research, and access to the provision of services and other facilities of the University
  •  adopt policies, procedures, and practices for staff consistent with equal opportunity principles in the areas of recruitment, selection, promotion, training and development, and other conditions of employment
  •  act to provide a learning and working environment that is free of sexual harassment
  •  take action to prevent the occurrence of unlawful discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment and bullying by conducting educative programs and other activities for staff and students and through the implementation of discrimination and harassment grievance procedures for staff and discrimination and harassment grievance procedures for students
  •  take positive steps to promote representative participation of diverse groups of students and staff to achieve equal opportunity in education and employment
  •  continue to develop specific policies that focus on equal opportunity issues (as the need arises) and monitor and evaluate such policies.

Responsibilities and/or authorities

All staff and students are responsible for ensuring that equal opportunity principles are respected.

Managers and supervisors are responsible for understanding the legislation and ensuring that the workplace and study environment are safe and free from discrimination under the grounds covered by this policy.

Managers and supervisors are also responsible for ensuring that equal opportunity principles are adhered to in order to promote equal employment opportunity.

The People, Talent and Culture Unit is responsible for the ongoing development and maintenance of this policy.

Evaluation

The policy will be evaluated by the People, Talent and Culture Unit and the Student Ombud's Office and recommendations reported to the Vice Chancellor.

Further information or assistance


In compliance with its legislative obligations, the University has developed separate student and staff complaint procedures for investigating and resolving any complaints that might arise on the basis of discrimination or harassment. These two processes are laid out in the University's Discrimination and Harassment Grievance Procedures (Staff) and the University of South Australia Student complaints resolution

Copies for staff.

Copies for students.