6. Equity & Diversity Matters

6.1. Equity and Diversity Principles

Tasmania Police has the following workplace Equity and Diversity principles for its members:

  • we will treat everyone with respect and dignity
  • we will recognise and appreciate individual difference
  • we will not tolerate discrimination, prohibited conduct or bullying
  • we will display respect for diversity in all forms of communication.

Tasmania Police is committed to:

  • preventing, detecting and eliminating all forms of discrimination, prohibited conduct and bullying
  • organisational culture, management and leadership styles that incorporate the Equity and Diversity principles.

Tasmania Police has appointed an Equity and Diversity Coordinator and Contact Officers to support members.  The Equity and Diversity processes described in this section relate to matters raised by members about other members, on-duty or off-duty.

Equity and diversity complaints made against SSEs are covered by the department’s Equity and Diversity Policy.

6.1.1. Complaints of Discrimination from Members of the Public

A complaint of discrimination from a member of the public does not amount to an Equity and Diversity complaint.  It is to be registered on BlueTeam as a level 1, 2 or 3 complaint, unless it is being dealt with by Equal Opportunity Tasmania in which case it is to be registered as an Information Only.

6.2. Types of Discrimination

6.2.1. Attributes under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1998

The following attributes are identified in the Anti-Discrimination Act 1998 (the Act):

  • Race
  • Lawful Sexual Activity
  • Intersex
  • Pregnancy
  • Family Responsibilities
  • Political Belief or Affiliation
  • Irrelevant Criminal Record
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Relationship Status
  • Breastfeeding
  • Disability
  • Political Activity
  • Religious Activity
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Gender Identity
  • Marital Status
  • Parental Status
  • Industrial Activity
  • Religious Belief or Affiliation
  • Irrelevant Medical Record
  • Association with a person who has, or is believed to have, any of these attributes

Offences under the Act relate to behaviour concerning one or more of these attributes.

6.2.2. Direct Discrimination

Direct discrimination is normally overt and obvious and can occur in a number of ways that relate to the attributes above. The Act states that direct discrimination takes place when a person treats another person with an attribute less favourably than a person without that attribute.  Discrimination in employment may be intentional or unintentional and may occur as an isolated incident or a series of incidents.  It is not the intent of the action, but the outcome that may be discriminatory.

6.2.3. Indirect Discrimination

Indirect discrimination as described by the Act takes place when a person imposes a condition, requirement or practice, which is unreasonable in the circumstances and has the effect of disadvantaging a member or a group of people who share, or are believed to share, a prescribed attribute; or share, or are believed to share, any of the characteristics imputed to that attribute more than a person who is not a member of that group.

For indirect discrimination to take place, it is not necessary that the person who discriminates is aware that the condition, requirement or practice disadvantages the group of people or person.  Indirect discrimination is generally less obvious and unintended.

6.2.4. Sex Discrimination

Sex discrimination occurs when a person is disadvantaged or treated less favourably because of their gender, or a person is treated less favourably because of generalised or stereotyped opinions concerning their gender.

6.2.5. Sexual Orientation Discrimination

Sexual orientation discrimination occurs when a person is disadvantaged or treated less favourably because of their sexual orientation (e.g. LGBTI).

6.2.6. Racial Discrimination

Racial discrimination occurs when a person is disadvantaged or treated less favourably because of their race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin.

6.3. Prohibited Conduct

Types of prohibited conduct under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1998 are set out below.

6.3.1. Offensive Conduct

A person must not engage in any conduct or behaviour which offends, humiliates, intimidates, insults or ridicules another person, on the basis of a number of attributes previously referred to. The test applied to harassment is if a reasonable person, having regard to all the circumstances, would have anticipated that the other person would have been offended, humiliated, intimidated, insulted or ridiculed.

6.3.2. Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination. It varies in the degree and extent to which it causes affront or distress. Sexual harassment is described under the Act as:

  • subjecting a person to an unsolicited act of physical contact of a sexual nature
  • making an unwelcome sexual advance or an unwelcome request for sexual favours to another person; or
  • makes an unwelcome remark or statement with sexual connotations to another person or about another person in that person’s presence
  • making an unwelcome gesture, action or comment of a sexual nature, or
  • engaging in conduct of a sexual nature in relation to another person that is offensive to that person.

The reasonable person test applies, having regard to all the circumstances.  Members of any gender can be a victim of sexual harassment.

6.3.3. Victimisation

Victimisation is when a person subjects, or threatens to subject, another person to any harassment or detriment because that person has:

  • made, or intends to make a complaint under the Act; or
  • gives, or intends to give, evidence or information in connection with a complaint under the Act; or
  • alleged, or intends to allege, that any person has committed an act which would amount to a contravention of the Act or the Equity and Diversity Policy; or
  • refused, or intends to refuse, to do anything that would amount to a contravention of the Act or the Equity and Diversity Policy; or
  • done anything in relation to any person under or by reference to the Act.

Victimisation of complainants is also a discrete breach of the Code of Conduct at section 42(12) of the Police Service Act 2003.

6.3.4. Inciting Hatred

A person, by a public act, must not incite hatred towards, serious contempt for or severe ridicule of, a person or a group of persons relating to the following attributes:

  • the race of the person or group; or
  • any disability of the person or group; or
  • the sexual orientation or lawful sexual activity of the person or group, or
  • the religious belief or activity of the person or group.

6.3.5. Promoting or Aiding Offences under the Act

A person must not publish or display, or cause or permit to be published or displayed, any sign, notice or advertising matter that promotes, expresses or depicts discrimination or prohibited conduct.

A person must not knowingly cause, induce or aid another person to contravene the Act.

6.4. Bullying

Bullying is covered under general duty of care provisions in the Work Health and Safety Act 2012.  Bullying is repeated, unreasonable behaviour directed towards an employee or group of employees that creates a risk to their health or safety.  It can be any type of behaviour that unfairly or unreasonably belittles, undermines, controls, abuses, intimidates, excludes, offends or embarrasses someone.  It may include physical violence, aggression, ostracism or workload pressure. Serious bullying may constitute a breach of the Code of Conduct under the Police Service Act 2003.

Management actions including Individual Performance Reviews (IPRs), Performance Management Plans (PMPs) or Continuing Professional Development (CPD) that are carried out in a fair and reasonable way are not considered bullying.

6.5. Equity and Diversity Categories and Examples

As with other complaints and internally raised matters (IRMs) there are three levels of Equity and Diversity matters in Abacus. Additionally there is an Equity and Diversity Information Only category.

6.5.1. Equity and Diversity 1

Equity and Diversity 1 matters may be recorded resolved by conciliation (informal resolution or formal resolution), where suitable, in the relevant district or by the Equity and Diversity Coordinator.

Examples of Equity and Diversity 1 matters

  • An isolated incident of mocking a person’s surname based on their ethnicity.
  • A member making an offensive joke in the station which is clearly heard by other staff.
  • A member displaying a calendar in their locker of topless female.
  • A member seeking advice about ongoing harassment from a group of colleagues about that member’s childcare responsibilities, but wishing for their own identity to be withheld and for no action to be taken.
  • A member making a report about a one-off incident when their religious beliefs were commented on by their supervisor, but only wanting it to be recorded for information.

6.5.2. Equity and Diversity 2

Depending on their nature, Equity & Diversity 2 matters may be subject to proportionate inquiry within the relevant district or may be referred to Professional Standards.  The parameters for Abacus level 2 matters apply, including resolution timeframes.

Examples of Equity and Diversity 2 matters

  • Ongoing unwelcomed sexualised comments.
  • Bullying and belittling a colleague by ongoing verbal abuse.
  • A supervisor demonstrating favouritism by repeatedly allocating unpopular tasks to unfavoured members; and/or repeatedly providing sought-after opportunities to favoured members.
  • A member making a suggestive comment to a member of the opposite sex.
  • A member making racist comments.
  • A member touching a colleague inappropriately (dependent on circumstances this may be referred to Professional Standards).
  • A member posting sexist remarks on social media about co-workers.

6.5.3. Equity and Diversity 3

Equity and Diversity 3 matters are more serious than Equity and Diversity 2 matters and are typically investigated by Professional Standards or as directed by the Deputy Commissioner.  These matters may, if proven, warrant termination of appointment.  The parameters for Abacus level 3 matters apply, including resolution timeframes.

Examples of Equity and Diversity 3 matters

  • Indecently assaulting or sexually assaulting a colleague.
  • Sexual harassment that is repeated after the member has previously breached the Code of Conduct in a similar manner.
  • A member again breaching the Equity and Diversity Policy after they have previously been found to have breached the Code of Conduct in relation to Equity and Diversity.
  • Attempting to commence intimate relations with a member on the promise of some career benefit.

6.6. Roles and Responsibilities

6.6.1. All Members

Members who become aware of discrimination, prohibited conduct or bullying of, or by, other members are to bring it to the attention of a supervisor, manager, Equity and Diversity Contact Officer, or the Equity and Diversity Coordinator. An allegation of discrimination, prohibited conduct or bullying is a serious matter. Members are obliged, under Part 13 of the TPM to report such matters.


ORDER

A member who becomes aware of another member

  • committing a serious offence or crime; or
  • committing a breach of the Code of Conduct

must report the matter immediately to a senior officer.  The senior officer is to direct the informing member to register the matter on BlueTeam; or register it themselves.  Registration is to occur prior to the conclusion of duty that shift, unless the matter is able to be dealt with as provided for in Abacus 4.1.1 Discretionary Action for minor internally raised matters or victimisation/discrimination of police complainants


6.6.2. Commissioner and Senior Executive Officers

The Commissioner and senior executive officers’ responsibilities include:

  • ensuring that members are aware of discrimination and prohibited conduct under the Act
  • ensuring members understand that acts of discrimination and prohibited conduct will not be tolerated in the workplace
  • ensuring that no member engages in, continues or repeats such conduct
  • taking reasonable steps to ensure the workplace is free from discrimination and prohibited conduct
  • demonstrating a commitment to the Equity and Diversity principles
  • advising supervisors and managers of their responsibilities in relation to breaches of the Equity and Diversity principles
  • ensuring that supervisors and managers are aware of their organisational and individual obligations in preventing all forms of discrimination, prohibited conduct and bullying
  • adhering to Equity and Diversity procedures for handling cases of discrimination, prohibited conduct and bullying
  • advising members of the procedures involved in making a complaint.

Failure to demonstrate that reasonable, practical steps have been taken may result in the Commissioner being held responsible for any organisational actions or omissions.

6.6.3. People Support

People Support’s responsibilities include:

  • responding to inquiries concerning Equity and Diversity matters
  • providing assistance and/or advice to supervisors and managers in the resolution of complaints
  • liaising with Equal Opportunity Tasmania
  • where appropriate, advising and assisting the Principal Legal Officer in relation to Tasmania Police matters before Equal Opportunity Tasmania or the Anti-Discrimination Tribunal.

Abacus - Welfare Assistance card

6.6.4. Equity and Diversity Coordinator

The Equity and Diversity Coordinator is attached to People Support.  The Coordinator’s responsibilities include:

  • providing an advisory service to all members
  • providing advice to senior management
  • developing and implementing an Equity and Diversity induction and refresher training package for all members
  • conducting continuous education programs that reinforce the Equity and Diversity principles
  • liaising with Equal Opportunity Tasmania and other agencies as required
  • maintaining all Equity and Diversity records, including training records
  • maintaining a confidential register of complaints
  • providing statistical information as required
  • instigating and managing new initiatives as required
  • conducting research and gathering relevant information which may have an impact on future initiatives.

6.6.5. Equity and Diversity Contact Officers

Equity and Diversity Contact Officers have been selected, trained and appointed throughout Tasmania Police. Prospective contact officers are subject to internal probity checks against records held by the Equity and Diversity Coordinator and Professional Standards to determine their suitability for the role. The same probity checks occur intermittently following appointment to the role and adverse results may cause appointment to cease.

Equity and Diversity Contact Officers’ responsibilities include:

  • providing information, assistance and support to all members, supervisors and managers
  • promoting Equity and Diversity principles and demonstrating a commitment to them
  • consulting with the Equity and Diversity Coordinator
  • demonstrating appropriate behaviours and being identifiable and approachable
  • informing members of reporting options and – where appropriate – conducting an interview with the complainant
  • providing information about options for resolving complaints
  • providing support to members when attending interviews, formal resolution meetings between parties and senior members or Equal Opportunity Tasmania
  • maintaining confidentiality
  • following up with members who previously reported any matter formally or informally.

Contact officers will consult with the Equity and Diversity Coordinator immediately following an approach by a member regarding an Equity and Diversity matter.

6.6.6. Supervisors and Managers

Supervisors, managers or any person exercising supervisory or managerial authority over another member must take all reasonable steps to prevent, identify, and respond to incidents of discrimination, prohibited conduct or bullying.  Supervisors or managers may be held individually responsible for their management of Equity and Diversity complaints or inquiries.

Supervisors and managers are responsible for ensuring that appropriate standards of conduct are maintained in the workplace to enable all members to work effectively and efficiently without fear of discrimination, prohibited conduct or bullying. These standards include:

  • ensuring that all members are aware of the appropriate and acceptable standards of behaviour in the workplace
  • ensuring that policies relating to discrimination, prohibited conduct or bullying are implemented and that appropriate support and information is provided to all members
  • distributing available Equity and Diversity information, leading by personal example and, where appropriate, implementing local workplace Equity and Diversity initiatives
  • examining and, where necessary, changing any practices which may contribute to the occurrence of discrimination, prohibited conduct or bullying
  • taking corrective action immediately when they observe behaviour which may constitute discrimination, prohibited conduct or bullying
  • monitoring the workplace to become aware of any breaches of this section or related legislation
  • monitoring unexplained, continual absences by members
  • monitoring members who appear to be socially isolated and/or victimised, and
  • managing allocated Equity and Diversity complaints.

6.7. Management of Equity and Diversity Complaints

6.7.1. Case-by-case Approach

Tasmania Police recognises that Equity and Diversity complaints will be of a varying nature and therefore utilising a standard response is not necessarily appropriate. It is expected that Equity and Diversity Contact Officers, supervisors and managers will use their judgement and discretion when dealing with these issues.

6.7.2. Types of Complaints

Equity and Diversity complaints may concern the actions of one member, or a group of members, against others which involves discrimination, prohibited conduct and/or bullying. Alternatively, Equity and Diversity complaints may have a whole-of-agency focus as all members have the right to question the nature of policies, management decisions or initiatives that may appear to be discriminatory.  The resolution of such matters may involve the review and update of policies and procedures.

6.7.3. Process Overview

Once an Equity and Diversity complaint has been made it is assessed by the Equity and Diversity Coordinator. The Coordinator, in consultation with the Inspector, People Support, will determine the category (EDIO, ED1, ED2 or ED3).  It is expected that the majority of complaints will be dealt with as ED1 or ED2 matters.  The Deputy Commissioner is to be promptly advised of all matters that are categorised as ED3.

ED1 and ED2 matters will be routed via BlueTeam to Districts for allocation to a suitable supervisor or manager for managerial resolution and/or inquiry.  The supervisor or manager will conciliate the matter, where appropriate, through informal resolution or formal resolution.  The Equity and Diversity Coordinator is able to provide advice regarding resolution options and will ensure that the organisation’s responsibilities under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1998 and Police Service Act 2003 are being met.  The supervisor or manager must ensure that any discrimination, prohibited conduct and/or bullying found to exist does not continue.  All documentation relating to the handling of the matter and the resolution outcome will be uploaded to BlueTeam.  At the conclusion, the supervisor or manager will route the BlueTeam file to the relevant district commander, who in turn will route it to the Equity and Diversity Coordinator.  Matters that cannot be resolved will be reported to the Deputy Commissioner.

ED3 matters will be allocated by the Equity and Diversity Coordinator to Professional Standards unless otherwise directed by the Deputy Commissioner.  At the conclusion the file will be routed back to the Equity and Diversity Coordinator. Professional Standards may take carriage of an EDIO, ED1 or ED2 matter at the request of the Equity and Diversity Coordinator or the Deputy Commissioner.

6.7.4. Process Flowchart

Abacus - Process Flowchart

See also the overall Abacus Flowchart at Appendix A showing potential outcomes of ED1, 2 and 3 matters.

Where a complaint contains a potential breach of the Code of Conduct or breach of legislation, Tasmania Police has the discretion to complete an investigation process irrespective of whether the complainant wishes to proceed.  Like other Abacus matters, where a member has breached the Code of Conduct in an Equity and Diversity complaint (ED2 or ED3 only) various outcomes are possible including section 43(3) Actions.  Consideration should also be given to CPD) whether or not a breach of the Code of Conduct has occurred.  If it is determined that a breach of the Code of Conduct has occurred, the determination will form part of the member’s conduct history.  The same Members’ Rights and Obligations apply in Equity and Diversity matters as all other Abacus matters.

6.8. Confidentiality and Record Keeping

Confidentiality principles as elsewhere explained in Abacus apply to all Equity and Diversity matters.  All inquiries and complaints are handled promptly, impartially and with sensitivity.  As Tasmania Police has a duty of care to all members (not just the complainant) and the organisation, complaints may be progressed irrespective of a complainant’s request.

Access to matters categorised on BlueTeam as EDIO, ED1 or ED2 are restricted to the Equity and Diversity Coordinator and the Inspector, People Support (and, where applicable, the member in the District who is allocated a matter for resolution).  ED3 matters are allocated to Professional Standards, unless the Deputy Commissioner has allocated the matter to another member.  Hard copy documents are held confidentially in the Equity and Diversity Coordinator’s office to:

  • enable supervisors and managers to monitor a situation after action has been taken to ensure no repetition or continuation of a behaviour. This is a legislative requirement;
  • protect all parties should the matter need to be revisited;
  • monitor an employee or group of employees to ascertain if an incident is isolated or systemic; and
  • comply with broader statistical reporting requirements.

6.9. Formal resolution of Equity and Diversity Matters

ED1 or ED2 matters may be subject to informal resolution or formal resolution by a supervisor or manager or Equity and Diversity Contact Officer, in consultation with the Equity and Diversity Coordinator.  Matters may also be conciliated by Equal Opportunity Tasmania (see below).

6.10. Complaints to Equal Opportunity Tasmania

Complaints may be referred by Tasmania Police to the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner at Equal Opportunity Tasmania and vice versa.  Any member can also make a complaint directly to Equal Opportunity Tasmania.  Complaints are assessed and are either accepted or rejected.  Accepted complaints are investigated and may be subject to a conciliation conference. If conciliation is unsuccessful or unsuitable the matter may be subject to an inquiry.  Rejected complaints may, upon application, be reviewed by the Anti-Discrimination Tribunal.

Tasmania Police will not deal with a complaint that Equal Opportunity Tasmania is already dealing with, unless approved by the Deputy Commissioner.