Bullying and Harassment

Background

The University of New South Wales Medical Society (herein MedSoc) aims to ​engage, enrich and advocate​​ for its 1600 medical student members. ​It is MedSoc’s ethos that involvement should be an enjoyable and positive experience and thus it seeks to prevent all forms of bullying, harassment and intimidation. MedSoc has a duty to ensure that the mental health and wellbeing of its members are prioritised, especially those in the executive and council who volunteer their time and effort for our student body. By law, our members are protected from physical and sexual harassment. It should also be made known that all behaviour (in person or otherwise) is subject to the UNSW Student and Staff Code of Conduct where applicable. This policy functions to protect MedSoc members from bullying and other forms of harassment by either another MedSoc member, a member of the student body, or an external party, and supersedes the Complaints Policy which is relevant should an external party or MedSoc member wish to make a complaint against the actions of a MedSoc member or the organisation as a whole. This policy applies to behaviour in-person as well as online, and works in parallel to the Social Media Policy. Bullying and harassment are behaviours which a “reasonable person” would consider to be offensive, intimidating or intended to humiliate or threaten. It is unwelcome and unsolicited.

Bullying

Bullying ​is repeated, unreasonable behaviour directed towards a worker or a group or workers, which creates a risk to their mental or physical health and safety. The following types of behaviour can constitute as bullying (the list is not exhaustive):

  • Aggressive and intimidating behaviour
  • Verbal abuse, shouting
  • Threats, demeaning remarks or nonconstructive criticism
  • Accusatory or offensive tone/language
  • Unjustified criticism or complaints
  • Criticism that is delivered with yelling or screaming
  • Serious invasion of privacy
  • Silent treatment
  • Assigning meaningless tasks unrelated to the position or giving impossible assignments
  • Deliberately withholding information needed for effective work performance
  • Unreasonable expectations

Harassment

Harassment ​occurs when someone is made to feel intimidated, insulted, or humiliated because of any of their protected attributes. These include:

  • Age
  • Compulsory retirement
  • Cultural background
  • Disability (physical,intellectual,psychiatric,sensory,neurological or learning disability, physical disfigurement, the presence in the body of an organism capable of causing disease, and current, past, future or imputed disability)
  • Family/Carer’s responsibility
  • Gender (including maternity and pregnancy)
  • Marital status and civil partnership
  • Physical appearance
  • Political affiliation, beliefs and views
  • Race
  • Religious affiliation, beliefs and views
  • Sex or sexual harassment
  • Sexual orientation
  • Transexuality, transgender or gender identity
  • Any other characteristic specified under anti-discrimination or human rights legislation
  • Actual or imputed characteristics of above
  • Association with a person identified by the attributes listed above

Examples of harassment include but are not limited to:

  • Telling insulting jokes about particular racial groups or genders
  • Sending offensive or insulting emails
  • Displaying offensive posters or screen savers
  • Making derogatory comments about someone’s race or religion etc.

Policy

  1. Introduction
    1. Any criminal matter, including sexual harassment or physical abuse, should immediately be escalated to the Police, Faculty of Medicine or UNSW Student Complaints Process.
  2. Regarding resolving distressing communication
    1. MedSoc emails should be the preferred means of communication by members, and a MedSoc member has the right to limit communication to this form exclusively at his or her own discretion.
  3. Bullying and harassment within the UNSW medical student cohort
    1. Mediated local resolution.
      1. The matter should be escalated to the Vice President or any member of the Executive who has taken the first aid mental health course, who will mediate discussion between the two parties either in person or via email with the aim of resolution.
      2. Any executive member with conflict will be excluded from this process.
      3. The mediator must write minutes for any in-person exchange.
    2. Executive decision.
      1. If the matter is not resolved by local resolution the evidence of the offensive communication, and the transcript from the prior attempted resolution will be submitted to the executive for review.
      2. Members who indicate they have a conflict of interests, or either of the two parties reasonably believe to have a conflict of interest, will be stricken from this executive discussion.
      3. The Executive will determine if MedSoc will act directly or refer to other escalation processes, based on a majority vote using the criteria of repeated evidence of one or more of the following unwelcome and unsolicited behaviours:
        1. Accusatory or offensive tone/language;
        2. Unreasonable expectations;
        3. Threats, demeaning remarks or unconstructive criticism;
        4. Serious invasion of privacy;
        5. The recipient considers the behaviour to be offensive, intimidating, intended to humiliate or threatening; and a “reasonable person” would consider the behaviour to be offensive, intimidating, intended to humiliate or threatening.
      4. Should the Executive decide that MedSoc will act directly,
        1. Both parties will be informed of the conclusions and directive of the Executive via email.
        2. Possible ramifications may include:
          1. being barred from MedSoc events;
          2. privileges being stripped on affiliated social media pages;
          3. should the offender hold a position within MedSoc, a vote of no-confidence may be called at the next Council to remove them from their position.
        3. MedSoc reserves the right to escalate this to the Faculty of Medicine.
    3. Support and escalation.
      1. Support and escalation options include:
        1. General support and advice: ARC Legal and Advocacy Service, CAPS UNSW, Uni Health, Medicine Faculty Welfare Officer
        2. Escalation to the Medicine Faculty: appropriate contact points include the Medicine Faculty Welfare Officer, Course Convenor, Phase Convenor, Chancellor and Associate Dean of Education
        3. If, following escalation, the complaintant feels the matter hasn’t been dealt with sufficiently by Faculty, it can be submitted to the Conduct and Integrity Unit, via the Student Complaints and Appeals Process (https://student.unsw.edu.au/complaints​)​
      2. Medical students are able to access all these support and escalation options at any point of the process, independent of MedSoc’s actions, advice, decisions or opinions.
      3. This should be clearly explained in all events that MedSoc is approached with a complaint of Bullying and Harassment.
  4. Bullying and harassment of medical students by university and faculty staff
    1. Such staff members include lecturers, SG facilitators, clinical teachers, and tutors
    2. If approached, MedSoc will advise escalation to MedFac, and inform student of the support, advice and escalation options
    3. Support options (available at any point of the process)
      1. ARC Legal and Advocacy Service, CAPS UNSW, Uni Health, Medicine Faculty Welfare Officer
    4. Escalation to the Medicine Faculty: appropriate contact points include the Medicine Faculty Welfare Officer, Course Convenor, Phase Convenor, Chancellor and Associate Dean of Education
    5. If, following escalation, the complaintant feels the matter hasn’t been dealt with sufficiently by Faculty, it can be submitted to the Conduct and Integrity Unit, via the Student Complaints and Appeals Process (https://student.unsw.edu.au/complaints​)​
  5. Bullying and harassment of medical students by external supervisors
    1. Such supervisors include hospital staff and ILP supervisors
    2. If approached, MedSoc will advise escalation to their hospital Clinical Teaching Unit, and inform student of the support, advice and escalation options
    3. Support options (available at any point of the process)
      1. NSW Health Anti-Bullying Advice Line, ARC Legal and Advocacy Service, CAPS UNSW, Uni Health, Medicine Faculty Welfare Officer, ILP/Honours Convenor
    4. In the event of a hospital clinical supervisor-related complaint, escalation should occur through the associated Hospital Clinical Teaching Unit.
    5. This process will involve raising the matter with an academic or supervisor, who will then refer it onto the appropriate hospital channels.
    6. In the event of an non-hospital affiliated supervisor-related complaint (e.g. ILP/Honours), escalation should occur through the protocols of their relevant institution.
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