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Equal Opportunity Policy and Procedure

Policy Statement

Uniting Church SA is committed to ensuring that all persons seeking employment are treated fairly and equitably and are not subjected to any form of unlawful harassment or discrimination.

Uniting Church SA is also responsible for ensuring that personnel are aware of their rights and obligations as outlined in this Policy and that personnel must comply with the Policy.

All levels of management and personnel are responsible and accountable for ensuring that the provisions of this Policy are adhered to and that the principles of equal opportunity are upheld in the decision making process, in the performance of their duties and whilst acting as a representative of Uniting Church SA.

All persons will be afforded opportunities for employment, promotion, training, transfer or benefit based on merit, meaning that assessment is made with regard to the abilities, knowledge, aptitude, experience and relevant qualifications of each individual applicant in relation to the requirements of the particular position.  The ultimate aim is to employ the ‘best person’ for the job.

Uniting Church SA will demonstrate efficient, ethical and professional behaviour in all recruitment undertakings, whether applicants are successful or not.  The selection of candidates is based on objective selection criteria including competency assessment and must be consistent with the Anti-Discrimination and Equal Opportunity procedures contained within this Policy.

When forming the selection process for recruitment and/or promotion, Human Resources will take into consideration any known potential for conflict of interest (such as a member of a current employee’s family being a member of the selection panel).  It is an employee’s responsibility to report any conflict of interest, or potential conflict of interest, to the Chair of the Selection Panel or to Human Resources.  Failure to do so may be the subject of disciplinary action.

Whereas Uniting Church SA does not discriminate against appointing family members per se; if any conflict of interest or inappropriate favouritism or nepotism of any kind is found to occur either during the recruitment process or during employment, whether for or against family members, it will not be tolerated and the employee(s) concerned may face disciplinary action.  
As part of the employment process, the Uniting Church SA has a commitment to consider flexible working arrangements that take into account the individual needs of all personnel in relation to their personal care responsibilities for family members, with respect to the operational requirements. 

“Discrimination” in employment means treating a person less favourably than others because of a particular attribute or status, for example their sex, which is unrelated to the performance of the position.  It is unlawful to discriminate in employment under the following Federal and State legislation:

  •  Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth);
  •  Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth);
  •  Disability Discrimination Act 1992;
  •  Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act 1986 (Cth);
  •  Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (State);
  •  Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act 1999 (Cth);
  •  Racial Vilification Act 1996 (State).

Both the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 and the Equal Opportunity Act 1984 contain provisions preventing sexual harassment.

“Sexual harassment” refers to any unwanted, unwelcome and uninvited behaviour of a sexual nature that results in a person feeling humiliated, intimidated and offended, and under the circumstances, it would be reasonable for them to feel this way.  The perception by an employee that they have been sexually harassed is sufficient for them to lodge a complaint.

These matters are covered more comprehensively in Uniting Church SA Sexual Harassment Policy and Procedure.
Uniting Church SA will not tolerate any form of discrimination based on any of the following grounds:

  • sex;
  • sexuality;
  • race, colour, nationality, descent and ethnic, ethno-religious or national origin;
  • physical or intellectual disability;
  • family responsibilities;
  • age;
  • religion;
  • political opinion;
  • criminal record (dependent upon the nature and details of the offence and in relevance to the position);  
  • trade union activity;
  • social origin;
  • medical record;
  • pregnancy or potential pregnancy; or
  • marital status.

Uniting Church SA will ensure that equal opportunity principles are incorporated into, and discrimination is eliminated from all employment matters, including:

  • recruitment and selection;
  • policies, practices and procedures;
  • terms and conditions for work including wages and other benefits;
  • training, promotion and transfer of employees;
  • the methods and reasons for ending employment, and
  • allocation of work and roles.

“Victimisation” means treating someone unfairly because they have acted on their rights under equal opportunity or harassment law or because they have supported someone else who acted upon those rights. 

 Current legislation prohibits the victimisation of individuals who:

  • intend to make a complaint;
  • make a complaint;
  • intend to provide information as a witness;
  • provide information as a witness, and
  • support an individual who intends to make a complaint or who has made a complaint.

Uniting Church SA will take all necessary steps to ensure that people involved in a complaint are not victimised by anyone for coming forward with the complaint or for helping to resolve it. 
Whilst workplace harassment based on other factors is not specifically rendered unlawful by equal employment opportunity laws in South Australia, occupational health and safety laws require Uniting Church SA to do all that is reasonably practicable to ensure that personnel are safe from injury and risks to health at work.  Accordingly, Uniting Church SA acknowledges its responsibility to provide a harassment-free workplace (refer to Workplace Harassment & Bullying Policy).
The Executive Officer, Resources Board will delegate to a Presbytery & Synod staff member the responsibility for the management and implementation of the Equal Opportunity Policy and to ensure that this Policy is adhered to.   

If any personnel feel that they have been discriminated against or harassed, they may make a complaint by following the Equal Opportunity Procedure below.

The delegate will ensure that all complaints of discrimination or harassment will be investigated quickly and fairly and treated with complete confidentiality.  Any personnel found guilty of perpetrating or condoning discrimination or harassment will be disciplined up to and including, termination of employment.

Equal Opportunity Procedure

If any personnel believe or perceive that they are being discriminated against, they should report the behaviour or incident to their manager/supervisor or one of the following contacts:

  • Executive Officer, Pastoral Relations
  • Minister (for congregational issues)
  • Human Resources Management (HRM) Adviser

Following the initial report, if the matter is deemed to warrant further action, the personnel will be requested to put their complaint in writing, which will include the action they want taken against the personnel concerned.  This action may include:

  • arranging for someone to speak to the person(s) responsible for the alleged discrimination or harassment;
  • arranging a mediation meeting where an independent party will assist to resolve the issue(s); and/or
  • making a formal complaint, which will involve the conduct of an investigation into the alleged incident(s).

All complaints will be investigated promptly, fairly and confidentially by a delegate of the undersigned.  The investigation will involve the interviewing of any personnel who has been complained about, who will be provided with an opportunity to respond to the allegations made against them.  Any other person(s) who may have been involved or who may have witnessed the incident(s) will also be interviewed as part of the investigation.

All details of complaints of discrimination will remain confidential unless specific permission from the complainant is granted.  Any person who breaches confidentiality may be disciplined.  It is also important that the complainant keeps this matter confidential (this will endeavour to avoid idle gossip and the possibility of defamation proceedings against the complainant or Uniting Church SA).

During any meetings or discussions, the complainant will have the right to be represented or accompanied by a person of their choice.  This may be a family member or friend.

Following the investigation, the complainant will be informed of what action (if any) is proposed to be taken by Uniting Church SA, the reasons for such action or the next steps to be taken.

If any personnel are not comfortable in approaching the nominated representative of Uniting Church SA in the first instance, or if they are not satisfied with the way their complaint has been handled by Uniting Church SA they have the right to refer the matter to the Equal Opportunity Commission.

This Policy will be reviewed and monitored on a regular basis (minimum annually) to ensure it remains current and practice to Uniting Church SA requirements and legislation.


Executive Officer, Resources Board

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