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Australian Disability Clearinghouse on Education and Training
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Preventing Harassment and Discrimination

The Disability Standards for Education requires education providers to develop and implement strategies and programs to prevent harassment or victimisation of students with disability; all staff have a responsibility to ensure that appropriate standards of behaviour are maintained in the areas they manage or supervise.  The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 states that an institution can be deemed liable for harassment and discrimination as a result of the action or inaction of any of its staff members.1 Regardless of your level of employment, you have a responsibility to:

  • Liaise with disability services staff who can provide specialised advice on disability related issues
  • Become familiar with your provider’s policy on harassment and discrimination
  • Make sure that the staff and students you supervise understand their rights and responsibilities under legislation and that harassment will not be tolerated
  • Ensure that acceptable standards of conduct are observed at all times in the classroom or workplace
  • Take early corrective action to deal with behaviours that may be offensive or intimidating, even if a complaint has not been made, e.g. Don’t wait for a complaint – be proactive
  • Ensure that all complaints of harassment are dealt with promptly, fairly, sensitively and in accordance with your provider’s policies and procedures
  • Promote a more tolerant culture by actively celebrating diversity in the classroom, campus and workplace
  • Take steps to prevent victimisation and respond quickly to any complaints of victimisation that follow a complaint of harassment.

In your personal behaviour, respect the rights of others and do not become involved in or encourage discrimination or harassment.  Be careful of:

  • Judgement – always be objective in your decision making
  • The words and tone you use
  • Avoiding the use of masculine pronouns for both males and female
  • Jokes, pictures, cartoons, verse, gestures that may be inappropriate,stereotyping or of sexual nature
  • Isolating or segregating others through words or actions
  • Ensuring you explain Australian idioms for the benefit of others

Further Resources 

References

1 Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cwth) (Aust.). http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/dda1992264/index.html#s