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Equal Opportunity and Diversity Policy

This is the current version of this document. To view historic versions of this document click the link in the main navigation (grey) bar above or contact policies@uws.edu.au for versions that expired pre 1 June 06.

Section 1 - Purpose and Context

(1) The University of Western Sydney is committed to achieving equal opportunity and diversity in education and employment.

(2) This policy provides the framework to ensure that the University is guided by the principles of equal opportunity, respect and inclusion and complies with the spirit and intent of federal and state legislation.

(3) All members of the university community have a responsibility to contribute to the achievement of an equitable working and learning environment and the policy applies to all members of the UWS community including staff, students, contractors, visitors or individuals engaged in official relations with UWS.

Section 2 - Definitions

(4) For the purposes of this policy:

a. Equal Opportunity refers to people having equal access to opportunities in work and study.

b. Unlawful behaviour refers to unlawful discrimination, unlawful harassment, victimisation, vilification and unlawful adverse action.

c. Unlawful discrimination occurs when a person, or a group of people, is treated less favourably than another person or group on the basis of characteristics as determined by Federal and NSW state legislation. Unlawful discrimination can be direct or indirect.

d. Unlawful harassment occurs when a person is made to feel intimidated, insulted or humiliated because on the basis of certain characteristics as determined by Federal and NSW state legislation.

e. Characteristics which Federal and NSW state legislation prohibit discrimination and harassment on include:

i. age;

ii. breastfeeding;

iii. disability;

iv. family or carer's responsibilities;

v. marital or relationship status;

vi. political conviction;

vii. pregnancy or potential pregnancy;

viii. race, colour, descent, nationality, ethnic, ethno-religious or national origin;

ix. religion;

x. sex;

xi. sexual orientation or preference;

xii. transgender status;

xiii. actual or imputed characteristics of any of the attributes listed above; and

xiv. association with a person identified by reference to any of the attributes listed above.

f. Vilification refers to a public act that could incite others to hate, have serious contempt for, or severely ridicule a person or a group of people because on the basis of certain characteristics as determined by legislation.

g. Victimisation refers to less favourable treatment of a person or persons for their participation in making, supporting or resolving a complaint of discrimination, harassment or vilification covered under the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act 1977, whether that participation was actual, intended or presumed. This includes a person or persons who have agreed to be witnesses in relation to a complaint.

h. Adverse Action includes but is not limited to discrimination on the basis on certain characteristics as defined under legislation.

i. Special measures are acts which the University can take to enable substantive equality for individuals who belong to groups which have experienced past disadvantage, because of laws and rules, stereotypes and attitudes. Special measures aim to redress past disadvantage and improve employment outcomes and access to education for people from these groups. Anti-discrimination legislation enables the University to implement special measures for specific groups.

Section 3 - Policy Statement

(5) The University is committed to ensuring the integration of the principles of equal opportunity for all staff and students in University policies, procedures, decisions and operations. UWS activities are underpinned by the principles that:

a. all members of the University have the right to be treated fairly and equitably;

b. there is equitable access to education for students and equitable access to conditions and benefits of employment for all staff;

c. all members of the University are entitled to a work and study environment free from unlawful discrimination, harassment, vilification, bullying or other adverse and inappropriate behaviours;

d. diversity is respected and appreciated as contributing to the richness of the teaching learning environment;

e. an inclusive and flexible environment, including the implementation of special measures when required, provides the best outcomes for the varied needs of the diverse staff and student community;

f. equal opportunity does not mean treating everyone in the same way and that to redress the past disadvantages of particular groups, special measures are needed to improve employment and educational opportunities for people from these groups. These groups include women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people with a disability and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds; and

g. staff and students have the right to raise complaints in good faith under the UWS complaints procedure without fear of retaliation or victimisation.

Part A - Policy Implementation

(6) The University will promote equal opportunity by:

a. taking all reasonable steps to ensure that the working and learning environment is free from unlawful discrimination, harassment , vilification, victimisation, bullying or other adverse and inappropriate behaviours.

b. implementing inclusive policies, practices and programs in all its activities and services to take account of the needs of the diverse UWS community.

c. developing and implementing programs and special measures to improve access, participation, retention and success of students from under represented equity targe groups.

d. developing and implementing programs and special measures to improve access and outcomes for staff from under represented equity target groups.

e. Monitoring and reporting on UWS equal employment and diversity performance against identified University priorities and legislative requirements.

f. Implementing training and awareness raising strategies to ensure that all staff and students know their rights and responsibilities.

g. Providing an effective procedure for complaints based on the principles of natural justice.

Part B - Roles and Responsibilities

(7) UWS has a legal and a moral obligation to provide equal opportunity in employment and a workplace free from discrimination and harassment. While progress has been made in many areas, the success of the equal opportunity and diversity programs depends on the cooperation of the whole University community.

(8) All staff and students are accountable for ensuring that their own behaviours comply with the University's commitments and relevant state and federal legislation.

(9) The Vice-Chancellor and University President and all executive, senior and supervisory staff have accountabilities for the implementation of equal opportunity, gender equity and diversity within the University.

Part C - Related Legislation

(10) The following legislation is related to this policy

a. Federal Legislation

b. Racial Discrimination Act 1975

c. Sex Discrimination Act 1984

d. Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Act 1986

e. Disability Discrimination Act 1992

f. Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012

g. Disability Standards for Education 2005

h. Fair Work Act 2009

i. NSW Legislation

j. Anti-Discrimination Act (NSW) 1977

Part D - Reporting

(11) The NSW Annual Reports (Statutory Bodies) Act 1984 requires the University to report on specific groups who have experienced disadvantage in the past. These designated groups are: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people with a disability, people from non-English speaking backgrounds and women. The report requires information on the types of programs for these groups, a workplace analysis of the staff employed by the University and planned programs and outcomes for the following year.

Part E - Gender Equality in the Workplace

(12) Higher education institutions are also required by the Federal Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 to develop programs and strategies and report annually on progress towards achieving equal participation of women and men in the workplace.

(13) Gender equality in the workplace at UWS includes strategies to address issues of the under representation of women in senior positions, the under representation of women in non-traditional areas of employment and study for women, workplace flexibility and the gender pay equity gap.

Part F - Equity and Diversity Unit

(14) The Equity and Diversity Unit contributes to the achievement of equal opportunity and diversity through:

a. actively supporting and promoting the University's values of fair treatment and equal opportunity for students and staff;

b. monitoring and reporting on the University's equal opportunity performance under relevant state and federal legislation;

c. assisting and advising the University on meeting its key equity targets and equal opportunity obligations under legislation; and

d. advising and assisting the University on implementation of policies and practices that support a fair and equitable work and study environment.

Part G - Complaints

(15) Any complaints about breaches of the Policy will be dealt with in accordance with the University's Complaints Handling and Resolution Policy.

(16) Complaints may also be made externally to the Australian Human Rights Commission, the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board or to the Federal Fair Work Ombudsman.

Section 4 - Procedures

Section 5 - Guidelines

(17) The policy needs to be read in conjunction with the following UWS Code and policies:

a. UWS Code of Conduct;

b. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment Policy;

c. Disability Policy;

d. Respect and Inclusion in Learning and Teaching Policy;

e. Discrimination, Harassment, Vilification and Victimisation Policy;

f. Complaint Handling and Resolution Policy;

g. Sexual Harassment Prevention Policy; and

h. Bullying Prevention Policy.