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Sexual Harassment Policy

Policy Statement

Uniting Church SA is committed to ensuring that all current and prospective personnel are not subjected to any form of sexual harassment in the workplace.

**This Policy stands alongside:

• The Uniting Church in Australia Policy for dealing with a complaint of sexual misconduct made against a member or adherent of the Uniting Church in Australia (which can be accessed on uniting.church),  and
• Uniting Church in Australia Constitution and Regulations, Section 7.
• Uniting Church SA Workplace Harassment and Bullying Policy

Sexual harassment is defined in the Uniting Church in Australia Constitution and Regulations, Section 7.7.4 (a) as “any unwelcome sexual advance, or unwelcome request for sexual favours to a person, or engagement in other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature in relation to that person, in circumstances in which a reasonable person, having regard to all the circumstances, would have anticipated the person complaining would be offended, humiliated or intimidated.”

The Uniting Church SA advises that incidents of sexual harassment may, in fact, constitute a criminal offence, and therefore the Uniting Church SA may report any such instances to the appropriate authorities.

Sexual harassment does not refer to behaviour based on mutual attraction, friendship and respect if the interaction is based on mutual consent, welcomed and reciprocated.  Sexual harassment is unlawful under both the Equal Opportunity Act 1984 and the Sex Discrimination Act 1984.

  • Sexual harassment may include, but is not restricted to:
  • uninvited touching or fondling;
  • uninvited kisses or embraces;
  • making promises or threats in return for sexual favours;
  • sexually explicit conversation;
  • offensive phone calls or letters;
  • stalking (criminal offence);
  • offensive e-mail messages or computer screen savers;
  • demands that revealing clothing be worn;
  • sexual assault (criminal offence);
  • obscene telephone calls (criminal offence);
  • sexual jokes or innuendos;
  • unwelcome comments about a person’s sex life or physical appearance;
  • sexual propositions or continual requests for dates;
  • displays of sexually graphic material or pornography including posters, pin ups, cartoons, graffiti or messages left on notice boards, desks or any other public area;
  • “flashing” or sexual gestures (criminal offence);
  • sex-based insults, taunts, teasing or name-calling;
  • staring or leering at a person or at parts of their body; and
  • unwelcome physical contact such as massaging a person without invitation or deliberately brushing up against them.

Uniting Church SA recognises and acknowledges that sexual harassment may involve comments and behaviour that offend some persons but not others.  Uniting Church SA accepts that individuals may react differently to certain comments and behaviour, and as a result, expects that a high standard of behaviour from all personnel.

Sexual harassment by or towards any personnel, contractor, supplier or customer in any work-related context will not be tolerated under any circumstances.

Uniting Church SA has a legal responsibility to take all reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment from occurring in connection with the workplace.

In this regard, Uniting Church SA will:

  • have a commitment to building awareness and provide information sessions for all personnel within the Uniting Church SA relating to sexual harassment;
  • provide training in accordance with the requirements of Uniting Church SA policies and regulations;
  • distribute and regularly promote this Policy to all existing and new personnel;
  • model appropriate behaviour themselves and monitor the working environment to ensure that the appropriate standards of conduct are observed at all times;
  • treat all complaints seriously and take immediate action to investigate and resolve any complaint quickly and fairly and with complete confidentiality;
  • ensure that personnel who make or support a complaint of sexual harassment are not subsequently subjected to victimisation;
  • ensure that any personnel found guilty of making mischievous or vexatious complaints relating to sexual harassment is disciplined appropriately; and
  • take all reasonable steps to ensure there is no recurrence of the offence.

In addition, all personnel have a responsibility to assist Uniting Church SA by ensuring that:

  •  they comply with this Sexual Harassment Policy and other **policies as indicated above, by ensuring that they do not perpetrate sexual harassment in the workplace;
  • they offer assistance or support to any person being harassed; and
  • they keep any complaint confidential to avoid idle gossip and to prevent potential defamatory proceedings being taken against them.

In accordance with other policies, awareness and training to fulfil the requirements of this Policy will be facilitated as required by Presbytery and Synod.

If any personnel feel they have been sexually harassed, the person is to consider the following options:

  • The person making the complaint may approach the harasser and ask them to stop the offending behaviour.
  • If the person making the complaint is either not satisfied with the outcome of their discussions with the harasser, or feels uncomfortable about approaching the harasser on their own, the person may seek the assistance of the Contact Officer who will provide support and advice to the person of their options for resolving their complaint.  Current Contact Officer for Presbytery and Synod, Pirie Street is the Executive Officer, Pastoral Relations.  Where deemed appropriate, and where requested, complaints may be delegated to an alternate contact person by the Executive Officer, Pastoral Relations.
  • The person may make a complaint by following the sexual misconduct procedure which is outlined in the Policy for dealing with a complaint of sexual misconduct made against a member or adherent of the Uniting Church in Australia, Section 2 Operational Guidelines - this can be accessed using the following link www.assembly.uca.org.au. (This procedure is aligned with the Uniting Church Constitution and Regulations, Section 7). 

Uniting Church SA will ensure that all complaints of sexual harassment will be investigated quickly and fairly and treated with complete confidentiality.

Any personnel found guilty of perpetrating sexual harassment will be appropriately disciplined, or dismissed.  Any manager/supervisor found guilty of condoning sexual harassment will be appropriately disciplined, or in serious cases, dismissed.  Any person found guilty of making malicious, vexatious or frivolous allegations of sexual harassment that is held to be unfounded, will also be appropriately disciplined and, dependent upon all the circumstances, may also be dismissed.

If any person is not comfortable in approaching the nominated Contact Officer or other nominated representatives of Uniting Church SA, or if they are not satisfied with the way their complaint has been handled by the organisation, they have the right to refer the matter to the Equal Opportunity Commission.

This Policy is to be read in conjunction with the Uniting Church Workplace Harassment and Bullying Policy and will be reviewed on a regular basis.

Executive Officer, Resources Board

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