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Equal Opportunity Policy

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Section 1 - Purpose and Context

(1) Nil.

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Section 2 - Definitions

(2) Nil.

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Section 3 - Policy Statement

(3) It is the policy of the University of Western Sydney to provide equal opportunity for all staff and students regardless of sex, pregnancy, race, marital status, homosexuality, age, family responsibilities, disability, transgender, political conviction or religious belief.

(4) UWS integrates equal opportunity principles within all its decisions and operations.

(5) UWS is committed to the examination of all of its policies and practices, as they affect both students and staff, to ensure the elimination of discrimination and harassment on the grounds of sex; pregnancy; race, colour, ethnic or ethno-religious background, descent or national identity; marital status; homosexuality; age; family responsibilities; disability; transgender; political conviction or religious belief. UWS is committed to supporting the balancing of carers' responsibilities of staff within the workplace. UWS is also committed to providing a work and learning environment free from vilification on the grounds of race, homosexuality, transgender or HIV/AIDS status.

(6) UWS is committed to redressing the disadvantages of particular groups, recognised as being disadvantaged in the past, and will implement specific programs to improve employment and educational opportunities for people from these groups. These groups include women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people with a disability and people from non-English speaking backgrounds.

Part A - UWS Supports Equal Opportunity

(7) UWS has a legal and a moral obligation to provide equal opportunity in employment and a workplace free from discrimination. While progress has been made in many areas, the success of the UWS Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) programs depends on the cooperation of the whole University community. The Vice-Chancellor and University President is the Director of Equal Opportunity at UWS, and all executive and senior staff have accountabilities for the implementation of equal opportunity within the University.

Part B - Social Justice Committee

(8) The University has established a Social Justice Committee whose terms of reference are:

  1. Review University policy and plans and draft policy proposals and make recommendations to the University Executive to support the University's commitment to social justice.
  2. Review social justice reports and plans to external agencies, such as the Office of the Director of Equal Opportunity in Public Employment (ODEOPE); Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency (EOWA); Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR); and make recommendations to University Executive to support the University's commitment to social justice.
  3. Review submissions and reports within UWS from a social justice perspective, and make recommendations to University Executive to inform and embed social justice principles within submissions and reports.
  4. Identify current and evolving social justice issues and provide recommendations on actions to enhance social justice to the University Executive.
  5. Where required, form appropriate working parties to investigate equity and diversity issues.
  6. Manage and support the Vice-Chancellor's awards for equity and diversity.

(9) Details of the Committee members and meetings are available at the Equity and Diversity Unit website.

Part C - What is Equal Employment Opportunity?

(10) Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) provides all people with the right to be considered for any job for which they are skilled and qualified, ensuring that the best person for the job is employed. Equal Employment Opportunity is based on the principle of recruiting and promoting people on merit.

(11) EEO promotes access for EEO groups to job-related opportunities. For instance:

  1. Promotion, Transfer and Termination of Employment.
  2. Training and Development.
  3. Work Organisation.
  4. Conditions of Service.

Part D - Anti-Discrimination Legislation in Australia

(12) Australia's commitment to eliminating discrimination has been manifested in a number of ways, including legislation at the federal level, with the Racial Discrimination Act 1975, the Sex Discrimination Act 1984, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Act 1986, the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act 1999 and, at the state level, the Anti-Discrimination Act (NSW) 1977.

(13) Discrimination can be either direct or indirect. Both forms of discrimination are unlawful.

(14) Direct discrimination is the result of beliefs and stereotypical attitudes some people may have about the characteristics and behaviour of members of a group. Direct discrimination occurs when a person or group is specifically excluded from a job opportunity because of a personal characteristic such as sex or ethnic origin.

(15) Direct discrimination includes a selection panel seeking information about a woman's family commitments, but not seeking the same information about a man; or deciding not to enrol a person who meets the criteria into a course because of their disability; or refusing to employ Aboriginal people or people whose first language is not English.

(16) Indirect discrimination occurs when rules, work practices and decisions are applied to people equally and appear to be neutral, when in fact the rule or practice significantly reduces the chance of members of some groups in obtaining an educational or employment opportunity.

(17) For example, indirect discrimination occurs when a condition of access to training and developmental opportunities is that a staff member must be employed on a full-time basis. If the majority of part-time staff are women, such a requirement would have a disproportionate impact on that group.

Part E - Implementation of Equal Employment Opportunity Programs at UWS

(18) UWS implements an EEO Management Plan and Program, setting targets and forward estimates consistent with the merit principle. Annual reports on the outcomes and effectiveness of the activities and programs are reviewed by the NSW Office of the Director of Equal Opportunity in Public Employment (ODEOPE) and by the Federal Equal Opportunity for Women Agency (EOWA).

(19) The NSW Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 requires the University to report annually on specific groups who have experienced disadvantage. These designated EEO groups are: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people with a disability, people from non-English speaking backgrounds and women. The report requires information on the types of programs for EEO groups provided and a workplace analysis of the EEO staff employed by the University. EEO programs are designed to enable people in EEO groups to be represented in academic and general staff positions at all levels and in all types of work.

(20) UWS does not implement quotas which require the meeting of targets regardless of the merit principle.

(21) Merit is the basis of equal employment opportunity in Australia.

Part F - Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace

(22) Higher education institutions are also required by the Commonwealth Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act 1999 to develop and report on programs for women in the workplace.

(23) Equal opportunity for women in the workplace at UWS includes strategies to address issues such as the number and level of senior women academic and general staff, and their uneven distribution across academic and administrative areas, particularly in non-traditional areas of women's participation.

Part G - What are special measures?

(24) Special measures are acts which the University can take to enable substantive equality for individuals who belong to groups which have experienced past disadvantage, because of laws and rules, stereotypes and attitudes. Special measures aim to redress past disadvantage and improve employment outcomes and access to education for people from these groups. Anti-discrimination legislation enables the University to implement special measures for specific groups.

Part H - Equity and Diversity Unit

(25) The Equity and Diversity Unit contributes to the achievement of equal opportunity and equity through actively supporting the University's values of fair treatment and equal opportunity for students and staff and affirmative action for minority and disadvantaged groups. The Equity and Diversity Unit achieves this by assisting the University in the development, implementation and monitoring of policies, programs and activities which have an impact upon the achievement of social justice at UWS.

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Section 4 - Procedures

(26) Nil.

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Section 5 - Guidelines

(27) Nil.