Safety and Wellbeing Bullying, Discrimination & Harassment

Bullying, Discrimination & Harassment

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.

  • 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.
  • 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.


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.

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 Queensland Human Rights Commission.

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).

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.

Finding support and making a complaint

Equity Contact Officers are available as one of the options for staff and students to contact regarding discrimination attributes and areas, including harassment and bullying queries and concerns. They provide information and referral options for both students and staff regarding both informal and formal resolution options.

An Equity Contact Officer will:

* Provide information to staff about the organisation’s policies and procedures related to discrimination, harassment and grievance resolution and where to access support or advice.

* Raise awareness within the workplace of the discrimination, harassment and grievance resolution procedures and the role of the Equity Contact Officer.

* Model positive behaviours and promote a discrimination free workplace.

* Provide confidential and timely statistical data to management to assist in the pro-active management and prevention of discrimination and harassment.

It is NOT the role of Equity Contact Officers to:

* Undertake the role of advocacy on behalf of any individual or group;

* Provide advice or opinions on matters of discrimination or harassment;

* Attempt to resolve or investigate complaints, take statements or talk to witnesses;

* Engage in counselling or any form of ongoing support for individuals or groups;

* Confront the alleged harasser whose behaviour has been reported as offensive;

* Take or keep written records of contact interviews unless the employee reports an incident of serious misconduct/criminal offence.

JCU students can access JCU Student Wellbeing and Counselling, (Townsville 4781 4711 or Cairns 4232 1150), and JCU staff can access the employee assistance LifeWorks on 1800 604 640.

Bullying, discrimination and harassment are covered under JCU's  Bullying, Discrimination, Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Policy, with the  Bullying, Discrimination and Harassment Complaint Procedure for Staff and Affiliates applying to Staff and Affiliates, and the Student Complaint Management Policy and Procedures applying to students.

The procedures set out three options, an information complaints process, a formal complaints process, and referral to external bodies.  (Note:  these processes do not applying to issues of sexual harassment and sexual assault)

The Queensland Human Rights Commission has information and reporting options that are available to all staff and students.