The statistics on workplace bullying and harassment in Australia make for alarming reading: A national survey by the Australian Human Rights Commission in 2018 found 33 per cent of respondents reported experiencing workplace sexual harassment in the previous 5 years. A recent impact and cost assessment reported by the Australian Human Rights Commission calculated that workplace bullying costs Australian employers between $6–$36 billion dollars every year when hidden and lost opportunity costs are considered.

It’s a huge issue, and one that impacts organisations of all sizes, and in all industries. Workplace Bullying, Harassment and Discrimination not only leads to psychological harm to employees but can significantly affect your organisation’s reputation. A failure to understand and manage these issues can result in liability for employers and employees involved in a breach.

We are delighted to announce Thomson Reuters’ 4th annual Workplace Bullying, Harassment and Discrimination Conference to be held in March 2022 in Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane, Sydney, Perth and online. We have carefully curated a programme which not only gives attendees a better understanding of the issues and the legal framework which underpins Australia’s bullying laws, but also gives you practical advice on how to respond to and prevent it happening in the first place.

We look forward to you joining us.

For any event enquiries, please email eventsanz@thomsonreuters.com

Dates & Locations

Melbourne 3 March 2022
Canberra 10 March 2022
Brisbane 17 March 2022
Sydney 24 March 2022
Perth 31 March 2022
Livestream 24 March 2022

Your Investment

Conference

Early Bird* $650 + GST

Full price: $750 + GST

Livestream

Early Bird* $595+ GST

Full price $695 + GST

(Early bird closes 20 January 2022)

Register Now

For any event enquiries, please email eventsanz@thomsonreuters.com.


Agenda

9:00AM

Welcome from the Chair

Melbourne: Rob Jackson, Partner, Rigby Cooke
Canberra: Rob Jackson, Partner, Rigby Cooke
Perth: Kate Walawski, Head of Practice- Employment, MDS Legal
Brisbane: chair to be confirmed
Sydney: Erin Lynch, Partner, Vincent Young

9:05AM

What are the laws in relation to workplace bullying, harassment, and discrimination?

  • Outcomes of recent cases, recent prosecutions under WHS laws
  • Should NDAs be restricted in sexual harassment cases?
  • Impact of COVID-19 on workplace bullying, harassment, and discrimination
  • Harassment and bullying as a safety hazard under WA’s new WHS laws (Perth only)
  • Key takeaways from the WA Parliamentary Inquiry into Sexual Harassment against women in the FIFO mining industry (Perth only)

Canberra: Bede Gahan, Partner, HWL Ebsworth
Brisbane: Michelle Chadburn, Senior Associate, HWL Ebsworth
Sydney: Brett Feltham, , Partner, Gadens
Perth: Rachel Lee, Senior Associate and Rachel Dawson, Executive Counsel, Herbert Smith Freehills

9:05AM

Insights on supporting organisations achieve compliance and best practice

VEOHRC work with organisations to help meet their legal obligations and provide a range of services to prevent discrimination, sexual harassment, and bullying, and promote best practice equal opportunity in the workplace.

  • Using the Commission’s functions to promote improvements in prevention and response to workplace sexual harassment
  • Preventing and Responding to Workplace Sexual Harassment: Complying with the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic)
  • Practical tools and resources for organisations
  • Building innovation into reporting and complaints processes

Melbourne: Kylie Smith, Manager Education and Engagement
The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC)

9:45AM

How to respond to a complaint of harassment, bullying or discrimination

Managing the complaints process can be difficult and the issues are often complex and emotive. This session will guide attendees through the do’s and don’ts when receiving a complaint.

  • Procedures to be followed when a complaint is made
  • How to act fairly to the alleged victim and alleged perpetrator
  • What preventative measures need to be introduced when there has been an incident
  • What to do when there is a false complaint

Melbourne & Canberra: Alexis Agostino, Senior Associate, Herbert Smith Freehills
Brisbane: : Wendy Fauvel, , Executive Counsel, Herbert Smith Freehills
Sydney*: Jessica Light, Senior Associate, Herbert Smith Freehills (scheduled 2.40pm *Sydney)
Perth: Jo Alilovic, , Director, 3D HR Legal

10:25AM

Networking and refreshment break

10:45AM

Preventing bullying and harassment: using the work health and safety approach to building a positive workplace

  • Implement a risk management process – identifying psychosocial hazards and putting measures in place to mitigate them
  • WHS obligations and employer’s psychosocial risk management obligations
  • Importance of prevention and early intervention
  • Hazard reduction of risk factors contributing to bullying and harassment - workload, job clarity and management style

Melbourne: Cameron Hannebery, Special Counsel, Lander & Rogers
Canberra: Maxine Feletti, , Partner, Insurance Statutory, Sparke Helmore Lawyers
Brisbane: Vince Rogers, , Partner, Lander & Rogers
Sydney: Katie Kossian, Senior Associate and Maree Skinner, Partner, Maddocks

10:45AM

Performance management and termination when there are allegations and how to minimise the risk of adverse actions

  • How to minimise the risk of bullying claims made in the context of a performance management process
  • What to do when an employee being performance managed claims, they are being bullied
  • What constitutes reasonable management action?
  • Case law update

Perth: Joanne Leveridge, Senior Associate, DLA Piper

11:25PM

How to navigate misconduct-based workplace investigations

The investigation process can be much more complex and time consuming than initially thought, often with no clear outcome at the end of the process. This session covers the key principles of an effective investigation including:

  • What might trigger an investigation
  • Overview of investigation process- when, where, how
  • Can you investigate without receiving a complaint?
  • What does a good investigation look like?
  • Managing difficult or reluctant witnesses
  • Preparing a report and making a final decision and outcome

Melbourne: Dale McQualter, Senior Associate, Maddocks
Canberra: Kirsty Easdale, Senior Associate, MinterEllison
Brisbane: Claire Brattey, Special Counsel, Corrs Chambers Westgarth

11:25PM

When mediation is an appropriate process to address sexual harassment matters

In certain circumstances, it is crucial to conduct a workplace investigation for sexual harassment complaints. However, in more nuanced complaints/concerns, a mediation can be an important professional and personal educational opportunity which helps to restore working relationships.

  • Assessing suitability for mediation in sexual harassment matters – where to draw the line?
  • Common themes in nuanced sexual harassment matters
  • Assessing the respondent’s behaviour, position, and mindset
  • Developing awareness of behaviour through the intake process
  • Creating pathways for a functional and respectful working relationship

Sydney: Ruth Levy, Principal, Ruth Levy Consulting

11:25PM

The power of mediation – why investigations aren’t always the answer

Mediation may be an appropriate process to address some employee conduct matters, in more nuanced complaints/concerns, a mediation can be an important professional and personal educational opportunity which helps to restore working relationships.

  • Assessing suitability for mediation in matters – where to draw the line?
  • Assessing the respondent’s behaviour, position, and mindset
  • Developing awareness of behaviour through the intake process
  • Creating pathways for a functional and respectful working relationship

Perth: Cara Leavesley, , Special Counsel, 3D HR Legal

12:05PM

Lunch and networking break 

1:00PM

Social media risks for employers and strategies to minimise risk

What are the legal risks associated with improper use of social media at work, outside of work and what are the strategies to minimise this risk?

  • When will an employer be vicariously liable for an employee’s social media posts?
  • Issues with online trolls targeting employees and identifying the rights and obligations of employers
  • Developing legally compliant social media and IT use policy
  • Disciplinary options including termination of employment for inappropriate use of social media

Melbourne: Erin Hawthorne, Partner, Seyfarth
Canberra: Erin Hawthorne, Partner, Seyfarth
Sydney: Lauren Crossman, Senior Associate, Seyfarth
Brisbane: Rohan Tate, Associate, Maurice Blackburn

1:40PM

Management of bullying and harassment workers compensation claims

  • What is the workers compensation framework for bullying and harassment claims?
  • What is the standard of practice for claims for bullying and harassment?
  • Factors which make a claim succeed or fail
  • Understanding the different approaches for bullying and harassment claims compared to physical injury claims
  • Disputes and how the matters are commonly resolved
  • The latest trends and cases involving bullying and harassment matters before Workcover

Melbourne: Madelaine August, Partner, Moray & Agnew
Canberra: Emma Reilly, Partner, Moray & Agnew
Brisbane: Phil Carlson, Senior Associate, HopgoodGanim
Sydney: Stringer, Partner, Moray & Agnew
Perth: Joshua Wilcox, Partner, Moray & Agnew

2:20PM

Networking and refreshment break

2:40PM

What is bystander intervention and how does it work?

Bystander intervention training is an effective way to empower employees to address and prevent harassment and discrimination in the workplace. With the right knowledge, tools and motivation, bystanders can intervene and stop inappropriate behaviour before it rises to the level of unlawful harassment.

  • Why traditional approaches are not working
  • What are the barriers to bystander intervention?
  • Application for sexual harassment and workplace bullying

Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney*: Kate Walawski, Head of Practice- Employment, MDS Legal (*Sydney 9:45am session)
Perth: Beth Robinson, Special Counsel, Kingston Reid

2:40PM

Managing unconscious bias at work and cultural influences

  • Examining unconscious and conscious bias – lessons from Hopper v Virgin Airlines
  • Promoting diversity and inclusiveness – when it all goes so very wrong – lessons from Naidu & Group 4 Securitas
  • Job design and harassment “I’m not a racist but...
  • Examining unconscious and conscious bias and the role it plays in workplace decisions and conduct

Brisbane: Susan Moriarty, Principal, Susan Moriarty & Associates

3:20PM

Can a workplace bully change their spots?

Jerks, weasels, snakes in suits. If you listen to the rhetoric, a workplace bully is evil who can’t change. But is that actually true?

The truth is that not all workplace bullies are the same and, while some can’t change, others can! With the right support and coaching, a leopard can change their spots to become an effective employee and leader within your company. However, the key is to intervene early to ensure your employees are kept safe and your workplace productive.

In this presentation, you will learn:

  • How to identify a workplace bully early to intervene on their abrasive behaviour
  • What are the barriers to intervening and creating successful change of bullying and abrasive behaviours
  • What constitutes evidence that allows you to act and intervene early before it becomes a bullying claim
  • What are the strategies that lead to successful early intervention

Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney: Michael Plowright, Director, Working Well Together

How to develop a workplace culture to reflect values of community, social cohesion, and good mental health, and where bullying is prevented

  • Connecting with our employees genuinely, for permanent cultural establishment
  • Why staff engagement programs commonly don't deliver
  • What is it that employees truly respond to? What do they want and who are they, truly?
  • How can we create an environment where all staff feel free to speak? Policies alone won't do it
  • How do we develop our leaders to support this culture?
  • Why it's crucial we look at ourselves first

Brisbane: Chris Smith, Founder Staff on Side Corporate Culture, Pilot Wellness Manager, Jetstar Airways, University of Southern Queensland, Lecturer (Aviation)

Case study: Workplace Bullying

Perth: Kate Walawski, , Head of Practice- Employment, MDS Legal

4:00PM

Close of conference