Safety and Wellbeing Discrimination, Bullying & Harassment

Discrimination, Bullying and Harassment


Discrimination occurs when a person, or group of people, is treated less favourably than another person or group because of their background or certain personal characteristics.

Anti-discrimination legislation

The Queensland and Commonwealth anti-discrimination legislation protects people from discrimination in education or employment because of their: gender, gender identity, age, race, sex, sexual orientation, relationship status, pregnancy, parental status, breastfeeding, family responsibilities, disability, impairment, religion, political opinion, national extraction, nationality, social origin, medical record, criminal record, trade union activity or association with, or in relation to, a person identified on the basis of any of these attributes.

Discrimination due to any of the above mentioned grounds is illegal under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (Qld), sexual harassment and vilification on the basis of race, religion, sexuality or gender identity are also prohibited under this Act and is a criminal offence. For more information, visit the Anti-Discrimination Commission of Queensland website.

Unlawful vilification is a public act capable of inciting hatred towards, serious contempt for, or severe ridicule of a person or group of persons on the ground of the race, religion, sexuality or gender identity of the person or group. Vilification includes the threat of physical harm to property or person; or inciting others to threaten physical harm to property or person (Anti-Discrimination Commission QLD).

What is not considered discrimination?

Treating someone differently is not necessarily unlawful discrimination. An action is only considered discrimination if it occurs due to one or more of the above attributes (race, sex, age, disability, etc.). If this is not the basis of the action, it may not be considered an act of unlawful discrimination.

What can you do if you believe you are being discriminated?

  • Try to resolve the situation by talking to the person
  • Record the behaviour
  • Get support
  • Know your rights
  • Decide on a course of action
  • Report the behaviour

Bullying and Harassment

Bullying and harassment is repeated, unreasonable and unwelcome behaviour directed towards a person or group that humiliates, offends or intimidates a person or group.

Bullying and harassment can manifest in a number of ways including:

  • Face-to-face or direct bullying which can include physical or verbal abuse i.e. punching or kicking,  name-calling, insulting or the use of offensive language, psychological harassment or intimidation.
  • Covert or indirect bullying is less direct. It means bullying which isn’t easily seen by others and is conducted out of sight, such as excluding and isolating people from groups or spreading lies or rumours.
  • Cyberbullying occurs through the use of information or communication technologies such instant messaging or chat, text messages, email and social networking sites or forums. It has many similarities with offline bullying, but it can also be anonymous, it can reach a wide audience, and sent or uploaded material can be difficult to remove.
  • Hazing activities can force people to do things or act in ways that would otherwise contravene their beliefs and values. The main difference between bullying and hazing is that bullying can be used as a means to exclude someone. Hazing is an instrument of including people by having them 'earn their way' into a group, occurring only in the context of being new to an organisation, team or group.

Bullying and harassment does not include:

  • Legitimate comment and advice, including relevant feedback, from managers, supervisors or academic staff on the work /academic performance or work-related /academic behaviour of an individual or group.
  • Genuine and respectful differences of opinion.
  • Reasonable management action carried out in a reasonable manner.

What can you do if you believe you are being bullied or harassed?

  • Try to resolve the situation by talking to the person
  • Record the behaviour
  • Get support
  • Know your rights
  • Decide on a course of action
  • Report the behaviour

What can you do if you believe you are being cyberbullied?

  • Don’t share your private information such as passwords or phone numbers with people you don’t know.
  • Be cautious about sharing photos on social media.
  • Don’t respond to messages when you are angry or hurt - either to strangers or people you know.
  • Log out and stop messaging if you feel you are being harassed.
  • You have the option to block, delete and report anyone who is harassing you online and on your mobile.
  • Set up the privacy options on your social networking sites like in a way you are comfortable with.
  • Refer to our Social Media Cyber bullying factsheet for actions you can take in response to cyber bullying.

For further information and support services visit JCU Staff Equity or JCU Student Support