Behaviour and Conduct
The University of Adelaide supports a working environment of respect, transparency and integrity.
Our Behaviour and Conduct Policy and Procedures establish standards for appropriate behaviour and conduct, in compliance with relevant legislation.
Complaints resolution (staff)
Forms and templates
- Complaint decision matrix
- Complaint resolution flow chart
- Complaint resolution template (Word / Pdf )
Useful information and resources
For frequently asked questions, see below.
Conflict of interest
Useful information and resources
- Code of Conduct
- EO Online
- Equal Opportunity Commission SA.
- Australian Human Rights Commission
- SafeWork SA
- The University of Adelaide Act 1971
- The University of Adelaide Equal Opportunity Policy
- Inclusive language guidelines
For frequently asked questions, see below.
Practice of a discipline outside the University
Relationships with students
Useful information and resources
- Fair Treatment - Inappropriate behaviour
- Fair Treatment - Special measures
- Fair Treatment - Sexual harrassment, sexual assault and stalking
- Child Safe environment policy
For frequently asked questions, see below.
Frequently asked questions
The purpose of these FAQs is to increase awareness and understanding of issues related to behaviour and conduct.
Conflict of interest
The purpose of these FAQs is to provide information on identifying, disclosing and managing actual, reasonably perceived or potential conflicts of interest (and/or commitment) at the University of Adelaide.
What is a conflict of Interest?
A conflict of interest arises when your personal, external or financial interests, or those of a person with whom you have a close personal relationship, come into conflict with the performance of your duties to the University. A conflict of interest may be actual, perceived or potential and includes a conflict of commitment. Perceived or potential conflicts may undermine trust and be as damaging as an actual conflict.
An actual conflict of interest arises when there is a real conflict between your duties to the University and your existing personal, external or financial interests.
A potential conflict of interest arises where your personal, external or financial interests could come into conflict with your duties to the University in the future.
A perceived conflict of interest can exist where a third party could form the view that your personal, external or financial interests could improperly influence the performance of your duties to the University, now or in the future.
Conflict of commitment
A conflict of commitment arises where your personal, external or financial interests are so significant, demanding or organised in such a way that they adversely interfere with the performance of your duties to the University.
How do I identify a conflict of interest?
It is not always easy to identify a conflict of interest.
The objective, key test is whether an individual could be influenced, or appear to be influenced, by a private interest in carrying out their duties to the University. This test should focus on the official role and the private relationships and interests of the individual concerned, and whether a reasonably disinterested person would think these relationships and interests could conceivably conflict or appear to conflict with the individual’s duties to the University.
If you answer ‘YES’ to any of the questions below, you may have an actual, perceived or potential conflict of interest:
- Would I or anyone associated with me benefit from or be detrimentally affected by my proposed decision or action?
- Could there be benefits for me in the future that could cast doubt on my objectivity?
- Do I have a current or previous personal, professional or financial relationship or association of any significance with an interested party?
- Would my reputation or that of a relative, friend or associate stand to be enhanced or damaged because of the proposed decision or action?
- Do I or a relative, friend or associate of theirs stand to gain or lose financially in some covert or unexpected way?
- Do I hold any personal or professional views or biases that may lead others to reasonably conclude that I am not an appropriate person to deal with the matter?
- Have I contributed in a private capacity in any way to the matter my Faculty/Division/the University is dealing with?
- Have I made any promises or commitments in relation to the matter?
- Have I received a benefit or hospitality from someone who stands to gain or lose from my proposed decision or action?
- Am I a member of an association, club or professional organisation or do I have particular ties and affiliations with organisations or individuals who stand to gain or lose by my proposed decision or action?
- Could this situation have an influence on any future employment opportunities outside my current official duties?
- Could there be any other benefits or factors that could cast doubts on my objectivity?
If you are still in doubt as to whether a conflict of interest exists, seek advice from the relevant Head of School/Branch.
(Source: ICAC NSW, 2004).
Where am I likely to come across a conflict of interest?
The potential for a conflict of interest exists in all aspects of University operations.
The following examples are intended as a guide only and do not capture every possible instance that might give rise to a conflict of interest at the University.
- Research – when financial or other personal considerations may compromise, or have the appearance of compromising, an investigator’s professional judgement in conducting or reporting research. The bias can affect collection, analysis, and interpretation of data, hiring of staff, procurement of materials, sharing of results, choice of protocol, and the use of statistical methods.
- Peer Review of Research Grants or Publication – when an author, reviewer or editor allows personal conviction, financial interests or close personal relationships to influence the work improperly.
- Research Students – refers to the power relationship between supervisor and research student and the extent to which the student requires the supervisor’s support to complete their work.
- Private tutorials – refers to instances where an academic accepts payment for private tutorials from students enrolled at the Univeristy.
- Financial or personal considerations – refers to situations in which financial or other personal considerations may compromise, or appear to compromise, decisions made by administrators. This includes, but is not limited to, decisions pertaining to the:
- recruitment, promotion, tenure process, reclassification or performance management of prospective or current staff at University.
- management of staff grievances or terminations at the University.
- admission, supervision, assessment or examination of prospective or current students at the University.
- purchasing of goods or services for the University.
- Memberships or Directorships – refers to the acceptance of memberships, directorships or executive management roles on boards of directors, committees, advisory groups (or similar bodies) of governmental, for-profit, not-for-profits entities including University controlled entitites and associated companies without the approval of the appropriate delegate.
Outside Earnings and/or Commerial Activity
- Consulting or contract research – consulting or providing services in a commercial setting to derive personal benefit due to an association with the recipient of those services.
- Undertaking commercialisation activity in your own capacity.
- Memberships or Directorships – accepting paid memberships, directorships or executive management roles on boards of directors, committees, advisory groups (or similar bodies) of governmental, for-profit, not-for-profits entities including University controlled entitites and associated companies without the approval of the appropriate delegate
- Accepting gifts, director’s fees, shares, share options, equity holdings or other forms of securities in companies in relation to the University’s commercial relationship with those companies.
- Using information received as a a University employee for personal purposes or benefit.
As a Head of School/Branch, what steps can I take to determine the nature of the Conflict and to assess the materiality of the interest?
In making an assessment, the Head of School/Branch should take into account that the University supports the work of its staff members and titleholders and will exercise caution before taking action that may have the effect of declining involvement in a commercial transaction, requiring staff to divest themselves of interests or preventing staff from taking part in research programmes for which they would otherwise have been key members.
Taking this into account your Head of School/Branch will determine the nature of the conflict and assess the materiality of the interest using the following guidelines.
Determine the nature of the conflict by:
- seeking information including, for example, from the staff member or titleholder involved; and
- considering what external and organisational factors impact on the situation.
Assess the materiality of the interest by considering:
- the potential risks to the University’s objectives, interests and policies.
- what the likelihood is of the identified risk happening.
- the impact of the consequences of the conflict of interest.
- the extent to which the person declaring a conflict, directly or indirectly, has scope to influence decision-making to advance their own personal or financial interests.
Refer to the University’s Risk Management Handbook for further information.
As a Head of School/Branch, what steps can I take to manage the disclosure of a close personal relationship from a staff member?
When a conflict of interest arises where a staff member has a student, staff member or potential staff member who is a relative or with whom they have (or have recently had) a close personal relationship the Head of School/Branch should make arrangements to restrict the staff member’s involvement in any processes listed in Clauses 3.4 of the Conflict of Interest Procedure.
Refer to ‘What options are available to manage, mitigate or eliminate a conflict of interest?’ for further information.
What can staff members and titleholders do to minimise conflicts of interest occurring?
Staff members and titleholders should:
- make a full disclosure of any circumstances which give rise to concerns about a conflict of interest and complete the Disclosure of Conflict of Interest Form and ensure it is approved by the appropriate delegate.
- be accountable for their research and ensure that commercial objectives do not divert them from meeting the University’s core objectives.
- refrain from acting as the University’s contact person for a spin-off company in which they have a significant interest.
- refrain from negotiating, authorising or enforcing licensing arrangements involving the University’s intellectual property if they are associated with exploiting those rights, either as an individual or in connection with a third party.
- have sufficient knowledge of their legislative and corporate responsibilities if they have approval to serve as an Area Manager.
What options are available to manage, mitigate or eliminate a conflict of interest?
All conflicts of interest must be disclosed using the Disclosure of Conflict of Interest Form and recorded on the staff member’s or titleholder’s file regardless of what additional management strategies are adopted.
The following options are available to manage, mitigate or eliminate a conflict of interest and should be incorporated into a conflict management plan.
- Record the details of the conflict of interest on the staff member’s file using the confidential Disclosure of Conflict of Interest Form, which is approved by the appropriate delegate.
- This is an appropriate course of action for very low-risk and/or potential conflicts of interest.
- Restrict the staff member’s involvement in the matter.
- This is often the most appropriate option when the staff member concerned can be effectively separated from parts of an activity or process and the conflict of interest is not likely to arise frequently.
- Non-involvement in any critical criteria setting or decision-making role in the process concerned.
- Refraining from taking part in any debate about the issue.
- Abstaining from voting on decision proposals.
- Having restricted access to information relating to the conflict of interest.
- Being denied access to sensitive documents or confidential information relating to the conflict of interest
- Recruit a disinterested third party to oversee part, or all, of the process that deals with the matter.
- This is an appropriate option when the matter is more significant and requires proactive management.
- Arranging for the affected decision to be made by an independent third party.
- Engaging an independent third party or probity auditor to oversee or review the decision-making process.
- Appointing additional persons to a decision-making panel or committee to balance the influence of a single member who may have a conflict of interest but who has some special reason to remain on the committee.
- Seeking the views of those likely to be concerned about an actual, potential or perceived conflict of interest to ascertain whether they object to the conflicted individual having any, or any further, involvement in the matter.
- With the conflicted individual’s approval remove them from all duties related to the conflict of interest for as long as the conflict of interest exists.
- This is the most appropriate option for ongoing serious conflicts of interest where restriction or recruitment of others are not feasible or appropriate.
- Given the serious nature of this option, it must involve open dialogue between the conflicted individual, their Supervisor, Head of School/Branch and any other likely affected persons and/or organisations.
- Removing the conflicted individual from any involvement in the matter and ensuring they abstain from any formal or informal discussion about the matter.
- Remove the conflicted individual from any situation where they may still exert, or be perceived to exert, an influence on decision or actions taken in the matter.
- Transfer the conflicted individual to an alternative project or another area of the organisation.
- The conflicted individual relinquishes the private interest that is creating the conflict.
- This is an alternative strategy to managing the individual’s University-related duties in a conflict of interest.
- Given the nature of this option, the conflicted individual must be involved in the dialogue and decision-making process that concerns relinquishment.
- Liquidating, or divesting yourself of, private interests.
(Source: ICAC NSW, 2004.)
Conflict of interest - gifts and benefits
The purpose of these FAQs is to increase awareness and understanding of the conflicts of interest that may arise through the offering and acceptance of gifts and benefits. These FAQs aim to provide clarification regarding acceptable and unacceptable gifts and benefits in the workplace and the process for approval.
What should be considered when offering and accepting gifts and benefits?
- Gifts and entertainment should not appear to influence the staff member’s ability to act in the best interest of the University of Adelaide.
- Staff members and Managers responsible for approving gifts and entertainment should ensure that if the gift was disclosed publically it would not be detrimental to the University of Adelaide’s reputation.
- If a gift of benefit exceeds the value of $250, the individual must disclose the gift or benefit to their Manager/ Supervisor (for staff) or University contact person (for affiliates).
- All gifts and benefits over $500 must be disclosed on the gift and benefit register and approved using the Disclosure of Conflict of Interest Form and added to the gift and benefit register
What are some examples of appropriate gifts and benefits?
- Modest, consumable and infrequent gifts and benefits, e.g; gifts and benefits received in line with cultural celebration, such as a hamper of chocolates or a bottle of wine at Christmas time.
- Branded promotional items, e.g. pens, hats and office stationery.
- Attendance at a local event that is reasonably related to a legitimate business purpose and there is a requirement to maintain and build business relationships, e.g.; accompanying a supplier / customer to a local event.
- Gifts and benefits received by key note speakers, door prizes.
What are some examples of inappropriate gifts and benefits?
- Cash, valuables of any kind or amount, including gift cards, cheques and shares.
- Any gifts or benefits that may be deemed inappropriate, influential, excessive or a bribe by a ‘reasonable’ person.
- Any gifts or benefits that may be deemed “gifts of influence”. (Gifts given to influence favourable treatment in the future such as, gifts or benefits given to retain business or secure any type of advantage up to an including awarding business.)
- Gifts or benefits that have been solicited in line with official duties and requirements of your role.
- Gifts or benefits that the gift giver is not permitted to give.
- Any gifts or benefits that may inhibit the University of Adelaide to conduct business with a competitor of the gift giver.
- Gifts or benefits in the form of services or other non cash benefits, e.g, the promise of employment or being awarded business.
- Additional services offered by contractors and service providers of the University of Adelaide to a staff member for personal use at a discounted rate or in an attempt to retain the business of the University of Adelaide.
- Gifts or benefits which would pose any cost to the University of Adelaide, up to and including lost time and attending events and travel costs.
- Inappropriate, distasteful, offensive entertainment.
- Illegal items, substances or benefits. All gifts should be in accordance with local law.
What if I am offered a travel upgrade?
- If any kind of travel upgrade is offered to a staff member, there must be no cost incurred by the University of Adelaide and the travel upgrade should not be paid for by an external organisation.
Is travel an appropriate gift or benefit to receive?
- In some instances a gift of travel may be considered appropriate and may be approved.
- Travel may be local, interstate or international depending on the invitation and the context of the legitimate business relationship and business related purpose.
- The primary purpose of the travel must be business related.
- All travel must be approved via the University travel process.
What if it is 'offensive' or 'Inappropriate' to decline a gift or benefit?
In some instances a gift may not be appropriate and in keeping with the University of Adelaide gift and benefit FAQ but it may be offensive or impractical to decline. These instances should be reported to the staff member’s Manager/ Supervisor as soon as practicable and the Gift and Benefit register should be updated.
How do I identify unlawful discrimination?
Discrimination includes any practice which makes a distinction between individuals or groups so as to advantage some and disadvantage others and may be be direct or indirect. Not all discrimination is unlawful.
Under Commonwealth and state legislation, unlawful discrimination refers to actions or decisions that are made on a ground that is unlawful to act on, or base decisions on, i.e.
- Sex or gender
- Marital or relationship status
- Family responsibilities
Detailed information and examples for each of these grounds can be found below.
Discrimination on the ground of age.
Age discrimination means treating a person less favourably because of the person’s age, or a characteristic generally associated with people of that age. It often arises because of stereotypes and incorrect assumptions about people’s skills, needs, abilities and personal qualities based on how old they are.
Examples of age discrimination include:
- preferring an older person to a younger person for a job, without looking at their actual experience and qualifications, on the assumption that younger people will be insufficiently experienced or qualified to carry out employment duties
- preferring a younger person to an older person, on the assumption that older people are “set in their ways” and unlikely to adapt to new employment situations
- unreasonable requirements for length of work experience which indirectly discriminate against younger people
- requiring staff to retire at a certain age
Discrimination on the ground of disability
Disabilty discrimination means treating a person with a physical or intellectual impairment less favourably than another because of that impairment. This applies not only in the areas of education, employment, accommodation and the provision of goods and services but also in respect to access to premises used by the public, sports, activities of clubs and associations, and the provision of facilities.
Discrimination on the ground of race
Race discrimination means treating a person less favourably on the basis of race, i.e. a person’s colour, country of birth, ancestry, ethnic origin or nationality or because of the racial group with which the individual lives or associates, including relatives, friends or work colleagues.
Examples of possible race discrimination include:
- not hiring a person for a job because of their nationality or ethnic origin;
- insisting on a high level of English language skills when the job does not require it;
- having an unreasonable uniform policy which cannot be observed by certain ethnic groups; or
- refusing to accept an overseas qualification without first making reasonable attempts to check whether it is accredited here.
Discrimination on the ground of a person's religious belief or religious appearance or dress
Meanstreating a person less favourably than another because they wear clothing or adornments or have a hairstyle or facial hair that are required by or symbolic of their religion.
Refer: Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (SA)
Discrimination on the ground of a person’s political opinion; union or non-union involvement; medical record or prior criminal record (when irrelevant to their employment)
It is unlawful to treat a person less favourably than another on the grounds of their political opinion; whether they are involved in union or non-union activities; their medical record; or their prior criminal record (when this is irrelevant to their employment.)
Discrimination on the ground of sex or gender
Sex discrimination means treating a person less favourably than a person of the opposite sex because of their sex or intersex status, sexual orientation or gender identity. Sex discrimination may be ‘direct’ or ‘indirect’.
Examples of sex discrimination include:
- paying a male employee more than a female employee for doing exactly the same work
- policy statements that managers must work full-time as this might disadvantage women because they are more likely to work part-time because of caring responsibilities
- not hiring a homosexual person because they “ would not fit in” or would make others feel “uncomfortable”
- refusing to teach a homosexual student
- making fun of a transsexual student in a tutorial.
Discrimination on the ground of marital or relationship status
Marital or relationship status discrimination means treating a person less favourably because of their status as single, married, divorced, separated, widowed or living in a defacto, or same-sex defacto, relationship.
Discrimination on the ground of family responsibilities
Family responsibilities discrimination means treating a person less favourably than another person because they have family responsibilities. Under the Sex Discrimination Act, family responsibilities include responsibilities to care for or support a dependent child or a member of your immediate family.
For example, it may be discrimination for an employer to refuse to employ a person, demote a person or reduce a person’s hours of work because they need to care for a member of their family.
The University encourages a flexible approach to scheduling and work practices to enable students and staff to accommodate their family responsibilities.
Examples of flexibility include:
- permitting a working or studying parent flexible lunch/tea break arrangements in order to feed a young child in an on-campus facility
- students involved in group work taking account of the parenting requirements of one or more of their group in setting meeting schedules.
- not scheduling staff meetings outside normal working hours.
Refer: Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth)
Discrimination on the ground of pregnancy or potential pregnancy
Pregnancy discrimination means treating a woman less favourably because she is pregnant, is or may be capable of bearing children, has expressed a desire to become pregnant, or is likely to become pregnant.
Examples of possible discrimination based on a woman’s pregnancy include:
- not hiring an obviously pregnant woman when she is otherwise the most meritorious applicant, because of the inevitability of taking maternity leave
- requiring all staff to wear a uniform but not making provision for maternity wear for a pregnant woman.
Discrimination on the ground of breastfeeding
Direct breastfeeding discrimination means treating a woman less favourably because she is breastfeeding or needs to breastfeed over a period of time.
For example, it would be ‘direct discrimination’ if a cafe refused to serve a woman because she is breastfeeding.
‘Indirect breastfeeding discrimination’ occurs when there is a requirement or practice that is the same for everyone but disadvantages women who are breastfeeding. For example, it may be ‘indirect discrimination’ if an employer does not allow staff to take short breaks at particular times during the day. This may disadvantage women who are breastfeeding as they may need to take breaks to express milk.
Refer: Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth)
Are there exemptions which allow discrimination in specific activities and /or areas?
The Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (SA) contains a number of exemptions which allow discrimination in specific areas and activities. These include charities, private houses, clubs and insurance. If your situation is not covered by an existing exemption you may be able to apply to the Equal Opportunity Tribunal for a temporary exemption.
For example the University of Adelaide does not discriminate against a person:
- with a disability if any adjustments required to accommodate the person (as either a staff member or a student) would cause unjustifiable hardship (financial or otherwise) to the University.
- because of their religious dress or appearance if the dress would create a safety hazard or conflicts with a reasonable work dress code or standard, or, the person is required to show their face for reasonable identification purposes.
The Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth) includes special measures provisions, i.e. a measure (act, practice, program, plan, policy arrangement, mechanism or activity) taken for the purpose of achieving substantive equality between, or the adequate advancement of, certain groups or individuals. Special measures do not promote discrimination. Rather, they are a crucial means of preventing and eliminating it. Refer to the Fair Treatment – Special Measures FAQs for further information.
The University is not required to tolerate behaviour which is of a criminal nature, such as offensive behaviour or assault, even if that behaviour is a consequence of a disability, such as a mental illness or brain incapacity.
How do I identify racial vilification and racist behaviour?
Racial vilification is behaviour in a public place that incites hatred, serious contempt or ridicule of a person or group of people, because of their race. A person's race includes their colour, country of birth, ancestry, ethnic origin or nationality. A threat may include an implied or conditional threat.
People who believe they have been vilified can make a report to police or sue for damages under the Civil Liability Act 1936 (SA), s73.
Examples of racial vilification include:
- An aboriginal man is picked on by his workmates and they write anti-Aboriginal graffiti on his car. This man has been vilified because of his race.
- An Iranian woman and her child travelling on a bus are told to ‘go back to where you came from’ and threatened with violence by youths. The woman and her child have been vilified because of their nationality.
Racist behaviour exists in many different forms. Generally, racism is a set of beliefs, often complex, that asserts the natural superiority of one group over another, and which is often used to justify differential treatment and social positions. This may occur at the individual level, but often occurs at a broader systemic or institutional level.
Examples of possible racist behaviour include:
- oral racist comments, whether about an individual or a group, made in the course of lectures and classes, meetings or interviews, or by telephone or similar communication systems;
- derogatory name calling, abuse, insults, taunts or racist jokes, including reference to a person’s physical features, or accent, dialect or pattern of speech;
- written racist comments including comments in any teaching materials, student publications, internet sites, social media, emails or other electronic or written communication systems;
- racist graffiti;
- distribution of racist material in the University, including posters and stickers;
- making threats publicly against a person or group because of colour or ethnicity;
- provocative behaviour, such as wearing racist badges or insignia, including Nazi insignia;
- using University facilities to recruit students or staff to racist organisations or groups;
- discrimination on the basis of racial or cultural stereotypes;
- exclusion of the knowledge or experience of indigenous people from discipline areas to which these are relevant; or
- giving preferential treatment to one group or individual over another on the basis of race.
Acknowledging the principle of freedom of expression, the following activities are not unlawful or against University policy:
- a reasonable act, done in good faith, for an artistic work or performance (e.g. a play in which racist attitudes are expressed by a character)
- a reasonable act, done in good faith, for academic, scientific or research purposes, or in the public interest, including discussion or debate regarding public policy isues such as immigration, multiculturalism or affirmative action for migrants
- publication of a fair report about someone else (for example, a fair media report of an act of racial incitement or racially offensive conduct).
What is victimisation?
Victimisation means treating someone unfairly because they have complained about unfair treatment, are proposing to complain or because they have supported someone else acting within their rights. It may include imposing unjust penalties or practices on a person as a result of a complaint. Victimisation in connection with a complaint of unlawful discrimination or harassment is itself unlawful. The University does not tolerate or condone victimisation.
Examples of victimisation include:
- calling someone a ‘dobber’ because they have made a complaint about another person’s behaviour
- refusing to provide additional teaching support to a student because they have agreed to be a witness in a complaint of racial discrimination by another student.
Where can I go for further information about discrimination?
Fair treatment - harassment and workplace bullying
The purpose of these FAQs is to increase awareness and understanding of the behaviours that constitute unlawful unfair treatment and to provide clarification on the practical application of the University’s Fair Treatment Procedure.
How do I identify harassment and sexual harassment?
Harassment is a single or sequence of unwelcome, offensive, humiliating or intimidating comments or actions which interfere with a person’s right to study or work in a non-threatening environment. Examples of possible harassment include:
- intimidation, ridiculing, teasing or offensive jokes
- negative, insulting or belittling comments, whether spoken, written or by electronic medium
- unreasonably setting different conduct or work standards
- exclusion from activities, facilities and resources.
A person sexually harasses another person (the person harassed) if:
- they make an unwelcome sexual advance or an unwelcome request for sexual favours, or
- they engage in other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature in relation to the person harassed,
in circumstances in which a reasonable person would have anticipated that the person harassed would be offended, humiliated or intimidated.
Sexual harassment can take many different forms – it can be obvious or indirect, physical or verbal, repeated or one-off and perpetrated by males and females against people of the same or opposite sex.
Sexual harassment may include:
- staring or leering
- unnecessary familiarity, such as deliberately brushing up against you or unwelcome touching
- suggestive comments or jokes
- insults or taunts of a sexual nature
- intrusive questions or statements about your private life
- displaying posters, magazines or screen savers of a sexual nature
- sending sexually explicit emails or text messages
- inappropriate advances on social networking sites
- accessing sexually explicit internet sites
- requests for sex or repeated unwanted requests to go out on dates
- behaviour that may also be considered to be an offence under criminal law, such as physical assault, indecent exposure, sexual assault, stalking or obscene communications.
How do I identify workplace bullying?
Workplace bullying is repeated and unreasonable behaviour directed towards a worker or a group of workers that creates a risk to health and safety. Repeated behaviour is persistent and can involve a range of behaviours over time. Unreasonable behaviour is behaviour that a reasonable person, having regard for the circumstances, would see as unreasonable, including behaviour that is victimising, humiliating, intimidating or threatening.
- abusive, insulting or offensive language or comments
- unjustified criticism or complaints
- continuously and deliberately excluding someone from workplace activities
- withholding information that is vital for effective work performance
- setting unreasonable timelines or constantly changing deadlines
- setting tasks that are unreasonably below or beyond a person’s skill level
- denying access to information supervision, consultation or resources such that it is detrimental to the person
- spreading misinformation or malicious rumours
- behaviour or language that frightens, humiliates, belittles or degrades, including criticism that is delivered with yelling or screaming
- changing work arrangements, such as rosters and leave, to deliberately inconvenience a particular person(s)
- excessive scrutiny at work.
What is not considered to be workplace bullying?
Reasonable management action taken in a reasonable way does not constitute workplace bullying. There are times when persons conducting a business or undertaking may take reasonable management action to effectively direct and control the way work is carried out. It is reasonable for managers and supervisors to allocate work and give fair and reasonable feedback on a person’s performance. These actions are usually not considered to be bullying if they are carried out in a reasonable manner, taking the particular circumstances into account.
Examples of reasonable management action include:
- setting reasonable performance goals, standards and deadlines
- requiring participation in a Planning, Development and Review discussion
- rostering and allocating work hours where the requirements are reasonable
- transferring a person for operational reasons
- deciding not to select a person for promotion where a reasonable process is followed and documented
- informing a person about unsatisfactory work performance when undertaken in accordance with any workplace policies or agreements such as performance management guidelines
- informing a person about inappropriate behaviour in an objective and confidential way
- implementing organisational changes or restructuring
- disciplinary action and/or termination of employment undertaken in accordance with University policies, procedures and the University of Adelaide Enterprise Agreement (as amended).
Where can I go for further information about harassment and workplace bullying?
Fair treatment - inappropriate behaviour
The purpose of these FAQs is to increase awareness and understanding of the behaviours that constitute inappropriate behaviour and to provide clarification on the practical application of the University’s Fair Treatment Procedure.
This information applies to all staff and titleholders at the University of Adelaide and persons who have entered into a relationship with the University involving working for, with or at the University, including volunteers, contractors and consultants, i.e. members of the University community.
Please note that this information does not apply to inappropriate student behaviour or a complaint made by a student of the University of Adelaide. Complaints regarding students should refer to the Student Grievance Resolution Process and the Inappropriate Student Behaviour website.
What is considered to be inappropriate behaviour?
Examples of inappropriate behaviours may include:
- abusive, insulting or offensive language or comments
- spreading misinformation or malicious rumours
- behaviour or language that frightens, threatens, humiliates, belittles or degrades, including criticism that is delivered with yelling or screaming
- discrimination e.g. age, sex, sexuality, gender identify, race, disability etc
- comments in emails or other electronic/written communication systems
- victimisation e.g. treating someone unfairly because they have complained about unfair treatment
- unwanted attention
- sexual assault (including inappropriate touching) or harassment
- bullying (repeated, unreasonable conduct in the workplace).
It is expected that everyone in the workplace will behave in a professional manner and treat each other with dignity and respect.
What do I do if I believe that a person working for the University is behaving inappropriately?
All staff have a role to play in addressing inappropriate behaviour by:
- refusing to participate in this behaviour;
- attempting to address the behaviour with the individual;
- supporting colleagues in saying no to this behaviour; and
- if appropriate, reporting any experiences of the behaviour.
If you feel that you have been treated inappropriately or witness a situation which is inappropriate, you can raise your concerns through a number of channels and have recourse to various processes.
Most commonly concerns are raised initially with Supervisors, Managers, Heads of School or Branch Directors. Where someone wishes to raise or discuss a concern regarding another person’s behaviour but is unsure about whom to raise the concern with, or lacks confidence in raising the matter with a Supervisor, Manager, Head of School or Branch Director then the matter can be raised with:
What process is in place if a contractor's behaviour is inappropriate?
If a contractor’s behaviour is inappropriate ensure you report the issue to your Manager/Supervisor who will assist you. Inappropriate behaviour may be treated as a breach of contract and is managed accordingly by the Contractor’s Manager in liaison with the relevant University representative(s).
What resources are available to assist me if I feel unsafe on Campus?
The University has a Safer Campus Community website which contains information on:
- Safe Steps (e.g. things to consider and potential dangers of walking alone and resources available e.g. Security escorts);
- Bystander Awareness;
- Sexual Assualt and Sexual Harassment;
- Silent Witness (an on-line Incident Report Form which is logged with Security Office); and
- University Security Services.
What resources are available at the University of Adelaide to ensure that staff issues relating to inappropriate behaviours by another staff member are actioned appropriately?
- The University’s Code of Conduct outlines for staff the University of Adelaide’s values and behavioural expectations that are critical in building and maintaining a performance culture within the University to support excellence in teaching & research. The Code of Conduct requires that staff treat all members of the University community, including each other and students, with respect and courtesy, and requires that staff refrain from inappropriate behaviours such as bullying, harassment or discrimination. Affiliate staff and other title holders are also bound to comply with the Code of Conduct in the letter that accompanies the award of a title.
- The University of Adelaide’s Behaviour and Conduct Policy which binds staff, titleholders, volunteers, contractors and consultants states that “The University will not tolerate or condone any form of unlawful unfair treatment including harassment, bullying, vilification, racial vilification and racist behaviour, sexual harassment, discrimination, victimisation, intimidating behaviour or violence.” The Fair Treatment Procedure that is associated with the Behaviour and Conduct Policy provides the detail regarding responsibilities for creating an environment free from inappropriate behaviours and for managing concerns regarding behaviours.
Additional information is also provided in the Human Resource’s Behaviour and Conduct Handbook for:
- Harassment and Workplace Bullying
- Special Measures.
- The Complaints by Staff process where the matter pertains to the treatment of one staff member by another.
- The Preventing and Responding to Workplace Bullying chapter of the Health, Safety and Wellbeing (HSW) Handbook where the matter pertains to bullying or harassment by a staff member, title holder, volunteer or contractor.
What support services are available to staff who have been involved with inappropriate behaviour?
Sometimes it is beneficial to talk confidentially to someone outside of the University about the things which you find stressful or difficult to deal with at work.
The University’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provides free short-term counselling to employees and their immediate family to support and assist staff to deal with any work or non-work related issue. The program is designed to address issues which staff (or their immediate supervisor) recognise as having an effect on their productivity and capacity to cope at work.
The EAP also includes a "Manager Assist" service. As a Manager/Supervisor you may be required to assist staff to investigate or address inappropriate behaviour. This may be challenging and stressful.
This service provides you with telephone-based help and advice from trained staff who can assist you with strategies on how you can work through some of the issues. It may also provide you with the opportunity to debrief.
Where can I go for further information about inappropriate behaviour?
Fair treatment - sexual harassment, sexual assault and stalking
The purpose of these FAQs is to build awareness and understanding of the meaning of sexual harassment, sexual assault, indecency offences and stalking offences among members of the University community, including students and provide avenues for support.
What is sexual harassment?
Sexual harassment includes unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that a reasonable person would find offensive, humiliating or intimidating. The conduct can be spoken or written words, pictures or actions.
Common examples include:
- Making remarks about a person’s appearance or attractiveness.
- Asking a person questions about their relationship or sexual activity.
- Sending or distributing communications with sexual content.
- Taking, sharing or distributing photos or videos of people engaged in private acts (e.g. having a shower, in the toilet) without their consent.
- Showing pornographic pictures.
- Unnecessarily touching the person.
Sexual harassment is determined from the point of view of the person feeling harassed. It does not matter how the behaviour was intended. What matters is its effect on the other person.
This behaviour is unlawful because it is a form of bullying or intimidation that affects a person’s ability to participate wholly in their work or tertiary education and related social interactions. It can lead to absence from work or studies and impact the quality of their performance and achievements.
What is sexual assault?
Sexual assault includes rape and a number of other sexual offences where sexual activity has occurred without consent or continues when consent has been withdrawn.
The laws of sexual assault apply to people of all sexes.
What does consent mean?
Consent means freely and voluntarily agreeing to sexual activity and actively ensuring the other person continues to agree to the sexual activity.
If someone is manipulated, threatened or forced into sex, or any sexual activity, or they are so intoxicated that they don’t know what is going on, then they are not consenting.
Each and every time people engage in sexual activity, whether it's touching and kissing or having sex, they must have the other person's consent. It should not be assumed that a person is consenting because they have previously said yes, because of the way they act or dress, or for any other reason.
Further information about consent can be found here.
Unlawful sexual intercourse with a child
It is against the law to have sex with a child. For a person in authority, a child means a person under the age of 18 years. For other people, sexual intercourse with a child under 17 years of age is illegal.
Of relevance to the University, people who hold a position of authority include:
- Teachers who are involved in educating the child;
- Religious officials or spiritual leaders providing care or instruction to the child;
- Medical practitioners, psychologists or social workers providing professional services to the child;
- Employers or others who are authorised to have significant authority over the conditions of a child’s employment.
What is stalking?
People stalk others for a number of reasons, often stalking has an underlying sexual purpose. Stalking occurs when a person intends to cause serious physical or mental harm to that person or a third person, or intends to cause fear, and at least on two separate occasions does the following:
- follows the other person; or
- loiters outside their house or somewhere else the other person frequently goes; or
- enters or interferes with the other persons property; or
- gives or sends offensive material to the other person, or leaves offensive material for, or likely to become known to the other person; or
- publishes or communicates offensive material over the internet or some other electronic communication so that it will likely become known to the other person; or
- communicates with the other person, or to others about the other person, by way of mail, telephone (including associated technology), facsimile transmission or the internet or some other form of electronic communication in a manner that could reasonably be expected to cause them fear; or
- keeps the other person under surveillance; or
- acts in any other way that could reasonably be expected to create fear.
What should I do if I experience or witness sexual harassment, sexual assault or stalking?
The University encourages reporting of sexual harassment, sexual assault and stalking at or in connection with the University.
The University is committed to supporting a staff member or student who has experienced sexual harassment, sexual assault or stalking.
Reports can be raised with supervisors, managers, Heads of School or Branch Heads or directly to an HR Advisor for staff members. Reports can also be lodged through the Safer Campus Community website.
Victims of sexual assault can report the incident to the Police and obtain assistance from Yarrow Place Rape and Sexual Assault Services.
- Police can be contacted on 131 444 or in an emergency situation 000 (24/7).
- Yarrow Place can be contacted on 8226 8777 (24/7).
The Silent Witness on-line Incident Report Form enables a witness to report a crime or security incident that they have witnessed to the University.
Staff can also access confidential counselling through the Employee Assistance Program.
Can the University take action against a person who harasses, assaults or stalks another?
The University may be able to take action where a staff member or student sexually harasses, sexually assaults or stalks a staff member, student or another person at or in connection with their role at the University.
For staff, further information can be found in the Behaviour and Conduct Policy and for students in the Student Misconduct Rules.
What resources are available to assist me if I feel unsafe on Campus?
The University has a Safer Campus Community website which includes information on:
- Personal safety and security;
- Sexual assault and sexual harassment;
- Contacting University Security Services;
- Reporting an incident to the University;
- The ALLY network to support staff and students who identify as LGBTIQ; and
- Consent Matters: on-line training to support a respectful and inclusive university.
What services does the University provide if I am on campus after hours?
Security is available 24 hours 7 days per week. The security emergency number is 8313 5444.
Other campus security contact numbers:
North Terrace Campus – Kenneth Wills, Level 4 (24 hours) – phone 8313 5990
Roseworthy Campus – H8 (24 hours) – phone 8313 7999
Thebarton Campus – phone 8313 5330 (24 hours)
Waite Campus – B2 (24 hours) – phone 8313 7200
Security staff can provide a personal escort up to 2.5 km from the University. This service can be accessed by contacting the relevant phone numbers above or at one of the Emergency Security Telephone Call Points
At the North Terrace Campus a free bus service is run for University students and staff. It leaves from the Security Office in Western Drive from 5.30 pm until 11.30 pm.
Where can I go for further information?
What is a special measure?
Under the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth), s7D, ‘special measure’ means a measure (act, practice, program, plan, policy arrangement, mechanism or activity) taken for the purpose of achieving substantive equality between:
- men and women; or
- people who have different sexual orientations; or
- people who have different gender identities; or
- people who are of intersex status and people who are not; or
- people who have different marital or relationship statuses; or
- women who are pregnant and people who are not pregnant; or
- women who are potentially pregnant and people who are not potentially pregnant; or
- women who are breastfeeding and people who are not breastfeeding; or
- people with family responsibilities and people without family responsibilities.
The concept of substantive equality recognises that creating equal opportunities for people or treating people equally may lead to serious inequality for groups that have been disadvantaged by a system which fails to take their situations and perspectives into account. Substantive equality is concerned with changing aspects of that system which have disadvantaged particular groups. It is concerned with equality of outcomes whereas formal equality is concerned with equal treatment regardless of the outcomes.
It is only possible to determine with any certainty that a measure is a special measure on a case by case basis.
The following outline of criteria are intended to provide general guidance on issues likely to be considered in determining whether a special measure exists
The basis of the measure must be an existing inequality experienced by people in the designated groups. If you wish to implement a special measure you must have a clear idea of the problem which the action is designed to redress. This requires an analysis to determine whether there are practices which do, or tend to, exclude, disadvantage, restrict, or result in an adverse effect on people in those groups, or leave uncorrected the effects of past discrimination against them.
If the analysis shows that practices exist in the relevant area, which do, or tend to result in and perpetuate substantive inequality, the person making the analysis has a reasonable basis for concluding that action is warranted.
The action taken as a special measure must be reasonably related to the inequality identified. That is, the solution should be tailored to the problem. The question to ask is what action can be taken to ensure equal outcomes.
Where can I go for further information about special measures?
Complaint Resolution (Staff)
These FAQ's are designed to provide practical information, tools and templates to assist staff in reporting, managing and resolving complaints under the Complaint Resolution (Staff) Procedure. It should be read in conjunction with the University of Adelaide Enterprise Agreement 2017-2021 (as amended) and the Behaviour and Conduct Policy.
What types of complaints can be raised under this procedure?
The University is committed to removing barriers to the reporting of complaints. The Complaint Resolution Procedure may be used to raise complaints about the inappropriate or unacceptable conduct of other staff when undertaking the responsibilities of their position, representing the University, or involved in University activities and/or with other members of the University community.
Complaints can include unfair treatment, discrimination, harassment, victimisation and bullying, interpersonal conflict, or other actions of staff that impact on the ability of an individual or team to work effectively and/or productively.
Serious matters, that may amount to an allegation of misconduct, serious misconduct, research misconduct, fraud or corruption are not appropriate for resolution under the Complaint Resolution (Staff) Procedure and will be referred for action under the University’s Enterprise Agreement (as amended),or the relevant policy. Protected disclosures are managed under the University’s Whistleblower Policy. Criminal or unlawful conduct should be notified to the Police or the Office of Public Integrity (OPI).
What is the most appropriate type of complaint resolution process for my complaint?
The University’s Complaint Resolution Procedure is a flexible and interchangeable process. An unsuccessful attempt to resolve a complaint by the informal process can proceed to a formal process as necessary.
The complaint resolution decision matrix may be useful in identifying the best approach to resolve a complaint.
Informal complaint Resolution Processes
Many complaints can be resolved informally, without requiring further intervention. The complainant, either on their own, or supported by their supervisor can approach the respondent to discuss and/or try to resolve their complaint. Where informal processes are not successful or if the complainant is not confident to resolve the complaint informally, the formal complaint resolution procedure may be appropriate.
Formal Complaint Resolution
The formal complaint resolution process is an appropriate approach to resolve complaints, where:
- The informal processes have not been successful;
- The parties are unable or unwilling to attempt resolving a complaint through an informal process;
- The matter is serious or sensitive; or
- The complainant is not comfortable in resolving the complaint themselves or with assistance.
To initiate the process, the complainant is required to put their compliant in writing to their supervisor or the supervisor’s supervisor (if the complaint is with the supervisor). A template is available to assist in detailing the particulars of the complaint.
Do I have a say in what the outcome of a complaint is?
Yes, even if your complaint is handled formally, you will normally be asked by your supervisor or HR Advisor, what it is that you want the outcome to be. On notification of how the supervisor wishes to resolve a formal complaint, the complainant and respondent will each have an opportunity to respond and/or agree to the proposed resolution and/or interventions.
What is a reasonable outcome of a complaint resolution process?
Typical outcomes under the Complaint Resolution Procedure include:
- Putting a stop to behaviour that has caused offence;
- The complainant no longer feels aggrieved;
- Improved relationships between parties to the complaint;
- An apology;
- Return to a productive work environment.
Typical interventions to resolve the complaint?
- Counselling support
Will my complaint be managed confidentially?
The University is committed to the removal of barriers to reporting of sexual assault and sexual harassment, which may be disclosed confidentially. Confidential disclosures of wrongdoing, including public interest disclosures are covered under the University Whistleblower Policy. All other complaints will be managed confidentially, to the extent that it is reasonably practicable to do so. Parties to the complaint and witnesses have a responsibility to maintain their own and the confidentiality of other parties to the complaint.
Who will investigate my complaint?
Where an investigation is required, the University may use an internal (staff member) or external investigator. An HR Advisor will provide guidance on the choice of investigator. Where an internal investigator is used, it will be someone from a separate area of the University to either the complainant or respondent, someone does not have a personal interest in the complaint and is at least HEO8 or Level D.
How can I be sure that the complaint is resolved?
The supervisor will monitor to ensure that any agreed actions have been taken and that there is no recurrence of the matter which gave rise to the complaint. They will then close the complaint and notify the parties.
Who can close a complaint?
The complainant can withdraw their complaint at any time and it will be closed.
The supervisor may close the complaint once resolved or at any time, if:
- The complaint is ill-founded;
- The complaint is unsubstantiated;
- The complaint is vexatious; frivolous or malicious; or
- There is no likelihood of a resolution between the parties.
What if I am not satisfied with the outcome, is there an option to review a complaint?
A complainant can only seek a review by an internal reviewer if the complaint relates to academic workload allocation under clause 126.96.36.199 of the University of Adelaide Enterprise Agreement (as amended).
When will the University take direct action?
- To investigate a matter or report criminal or unlawful conduct, which may include investigating a complaint that the complainant has withdrawn;
- The University does not require a complaint to be raised to take direct action.
Who can I seek further information from?
- You can discuss any unfair treatment, including discrimination, sexual harassment and bullying with a Fair Treatment Contact Officer (FTCO. They are able to provide information about University Policies and Procedures, including the complaint resolution (staff) procedure.
- You can obtain specific advice from your HR Advisor.
- If you require counselling support you can contact a University EAP provider
How long will it take to resolve the complaint?
The duration of the process will depend on the completeness of the information provided, the complexity of the complaint, whether it is handled as an informal or formal complaint, or requires investigation, and the process taken to resolve it. The university aims to effectively manage all complaints in a timely manner.
Must I use the template to raise a formal complaint?
To raise a formal complaint, it must be put in writing, detailing the particulars of the complaint. You can write a letter or email correspondence, or you can use the template provided.
Even if you chose not to raise your complaint on the template, we recommend that you use it as a guide to the information you should provide about the complaint.
Similarly the template acts as a guide for supervisors who have responsibility for attempting to resolve complaints.
Relationships with students
Professional relationships between staff and students which facilitate learning, research and the exchange of ideas are supported by the University. The nature of the staff/student relationship imposes responsibilities on the staff member, to perform their duties in a professional, respectful and fair manner, avoiding entering into close personal relationships with their students. This information sheet guides staff, who may also be students, in maintaining healthy, respectful and appropriate professional relationships with students.
What best describes a professional staff and student relationship?
The University regards the professional relationship between staff members and students as central to the student's educational development and wellbeing. Staff are responsible for maintaining academic and professional integrity and responsibility for the education and welfare of students.
The University appreciates that staff and students can socialise with each other at University events and friendships can develop. Friendships and socialising are acceptable on the condition that staff behave lawfully, ethically and in accordance with the University’s Code of Conduct and relevant university policies and procedures in their interactions with students.
What is an inappropriate staff/student relationship?
An inappropriate relationship is a close personal relationship between a staff member and student for whom the staff member has a professional responsibility, and which impacts the staff member’s ability to perform the responsibilities of their position in a fair and respectful manner.
It may be difficult for a staff member who is involved in a close personal relationship with a student to make an objective assessment of its appropriateness and accordingly they are encouraged to seek advice to ensure they do not become involved in unlawful or inappropriate conduct.
What specific behaviour/activities should be avoided?
- Making or advising on academic decisions relating to a student, with whom they have a personal relationship, including, where relevant, their admission to the University;
- One-on-one meetings with individual students at secluded places or private residences;
- Engaging in a personal relationship or conduct of a sexual nature with a student whom they are teaching, assessing or supervising;
- Using their position of authority to exploit a student for personal advantage;
- Unnecessarily discussing intimate and sensitive personal matters in one-on-one conversations with students, such as sexual relationships, physical or mental health or financial position;
- Borrowing or accepting money or gifts from students except for receipt of token gifts, in accordance with the Conflict of Interest Procedure;
- Engaging in financial transactions with students;
- Behaviour that amounts to bullying or sexual harassment;
- Engaging in any conduct towards a student that is unreasonable, unwelcome and could reasonably be understood to make the student feel offended, humiliated or intimidated;
- Behaviour of a threatening or criminal nature, which makes the student feel unsafe, including stalking, unwanted communication or contact or sexual assault;
- Inappropriate interactions with young students or vulnerable adults.
What are the risks associated with staff and student personal relationships?
Staff/student personal relationships can create a conflict of interest, that may impact professional and personal boundaries, disrupt teaching and learning for the student and others, and impact judgment, which may give cause for complaints of favouritism or bias that may undermine confidence in staff and the University.
Inappropriate staff/student personal relationships may create an imbalance of power posing significant risk to the wellbeing of students and may amount to sexual harassment or sexual assault, which are unlawful and may lead to disciplinary action and/or criminal charges.
Staff should not enter into personal relationships with any student for whom they have, or are likely to have any professional responsibility. Where relationships exist or develop, the staff member is required to make a confidential disclosure to their Head of School/Branch. Staff who fail to disclose these relationships may face disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.
Are staff required to disclose personal relationships with students?
Yes, it is a requirement of staff to disclose, to the Head of School/Branch any current or past personal relationship with a student for whom they have professional responsibility.
If I become aware of a close personal relationship between another staff member and a student, should I report it?
Yes, you have a responsibility to report to the Head of School/Branch any behaviour that you think may be inappropriate or in breach of this procedure.
What if I don’t disclose a relevant personal relationship with a student?
What options does the University have to respond to a staff/student personal relationship?
As each situation is different, the action taken by the University will be determined on a case by case basis, taking into account the circumstances of the personal relationship between the individuals and the impact on the student, staff member, the University and other students. Staff who breach this procedure may be subject to disciplinary processes and action. Staff involved in any criminal behaviour may face criminal charges.
For further information about criminal offences, refer to the Sexual Harassment, Sexual Assault and Stalking FAQ's
What is the definition of a vulnerable adult?
A vulnerable adult is any individual aged 18 years and above who is or may be unable to take care of, or protect themselves against harm or exploitation, by reason of age, illness, trauma or disability, or for any other reason.