Policy Directory


Date approved:

11 December 1998

Date Policy will take effect:

On approval

Date of Next Review:

December 2015

Approved by

Administrative Committee

Custodian title & e-mail address

Director, Employment Equity and Diversity Unit

Responsible Faculty/Division & Unit

Employment Equity and Diversity Unit

Supporting documents, procedures & forms of this policy

Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action Policy
Grievance Policy

Grievance Investigation Procedures

Inclusive Language Guidelines

Recruitment & Selection Policy

Student Charter

Student Conduct Rules

University Code of Conduct

References & Legislation

Anti Discrimination Act, 1977 (NSW)
Community Relations Commission and Principles of Multiculturalism Act, 2000 (NSW)

Racial Discrimination Act, 1975 (Commonwealth)

Sex Discrimination Act, 1984 (Commonwealth)

Disability Discrimination Act, 1992 (Commonwealth)

Age Discrimination Act, 2004 (Commonwealth)

Policies and Services Program


Public – accessible to anyone

Submit your feedback on this policy document using the Policy Feedback Facility.


1 Purpose of Policy

  • 1. The Respect for Diversity Policy provides an outline of the aims and strategies of the University of Wollongong to provide an environment where the diversity of its members is respected. The University seeks to equip all students and staff with the understanding necessary to effectively function in a work and study environment that is free from all manifestations of unlawful discrimination, and recognises the positive value of a diverse community of staff and students.

2 Definitions




Bullying is repeated unreasonable behaviour directed towards others in the work/study environment that creates a risk of physical and/or psychological harm. It may be one-on-one or ‘mobbing’ by a group. It may be carried out openly or more subtly, privately or in front of others.


Direct discrimination means someone is treated unfairly compared to someone else in the same or similar circumstances, and this is because of their sex, pregnancy, race, age, marital status, homosexuality, disability, transgender status or carers’ responsibilities. For example, if an employer will not employ someone just because they are a woman this is likely to be direct sex discrimination.

Indirect discrimination means a requirement (or rule) that is the same for everyone but has an effect or result that is unequal and unreasonable having regard to the circumstances. For example, an employer who says that they need a person over 180 cm tall to do a certain job could be indirectly discriminating against women and some ethnic groups, who are less likely to be this height than men or people from other ethnic groups. Where there is a genuine occupational requirement, discrimination does not apply.


Refers to the broad spectrum of backgrounds, beliefs, attitudes, social, sexual orientation, economic, age, cultural, political and religious backgrounds of a community.

EO Online

EO Online is a self-paced online equal opportunity training program for employees. It covers all aspects of harassment and bullying and provides case studies and real life examples.


Means fairness for all. Treating people equitably does not mean treating all people the same.


Harassment is any form of behaviour that:

      • is unwelcome to the recipient/s
      • offends, intimidates or humiliates the recipient/s
      • targets the recipient/s for one of the reasons covered by anti-discrimination laws, such as their sex, race or disability.

Australian Indigenous People

Refers to Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people.


NAIDOC originally stood for ‘National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee’. This committee was once responsible for organising national activities during NAIDOC Week and its acronym has since become the name of the week itself.

NAIDOC Week celebrations are held across Australia each July to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.


A person with a prejudiced belief that one race is superior to others.


Reconciliation is about unity and respect between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and non-Indigenous Australians. It is about respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage and valuing justice and equity for all Australians.


A positive feeling of esteem or deference for a person or other entity (such as a nation or a religion), and also specific actions and conduct representative of that esteem.

RRR Online

Responsibilities Rights and Respect Online (RRR Online) is an interactive online program for students, covering aspects of harassment and bullying and providing strategies for addressing the situations described.


  • An employee, whether full time, part time, or casual and whether employed as an academic or general staff member
  • An affiliate, as defined in the University Code of Conduct
  • The holder of any University office
  • Any member of a University committee
  • Any contractor engaged by the University, including where that contractor is a corporate entity, the principals, employees or agents of that contractor
  • Any sub-contractor engaged by a contractor to the University, including where that contractor is a corporate entity, the principals, employees and agents of that subcontractor.


A person registered for a course at the University of Wollongong.

3 Application & Scope


  • 1. The University of Wollongong actively recruits and attracts students and staff from over 70 countries and from diverse socio-economic and religious backgrounds, diverse sexualities and genders, and a cross section of ages. Respect for diversity is therefore critical to maintaining a harmonious environment within all work, teaching and learning, research and social activities of the University.
  • 2. This Policy is supported by the Inclusive Language Guidelines, previously titled the Non-Discriminatory Language Practice and Presentation Policy and Guidelines.


  • 3. This policy applies to all University of Wollongong students and staff studying and/or working on any Australian campus or representing the University in any location within Australia and internationally in any capacity.
  • 4. For staff who are employed by UOW and are working at international locations, the laws of the country will be applied, however staff are expected to abide by the principles outlined in this Policy.
  • 5. All persons subject to this policy, along with visitors to UOW facilities are entitled to expect to be treated with the principles of respect outlined in this policy.

4 Policy Principles

  • 1. The policy is based on the following guiding principles:
    • a. That individuals have the right to express their ideas, theories and opinions while respecting the rights of others without fear of discrimination, harassment or bullying.
    • b. That all discriminatory behaviour which is unlawful or offensive is unacceptable and contrary to the University’s objective of creating an environment which allows all students and staff to achieve their full potential.
    • c. That discrimination, in its many manifestations, is unlawful under State and Federal legislation. The University takes seriously its obligations under NSW State and Federal legislation.

5 Legislative Requirements

  • 1. The following legislative requirements should be considered in conjunction with this policy:
    • a. The Anti Discrimination Act, 1977 (NSW) makes it unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of:
      • i. race, colour, ethnic background, ethno-religious background, descent or nationality;
      • ii. sex;
      • iii. marital status;
      • iv. actual or perceived past, present or future disability;
      • v. age;
      • vi. actual or perceived transgender status, or actual or perceived homosexuality; or
      • vii. actual or perceived, past, present or future carers' responsibilities.
    • b. The Community Relations Commission and Principles of Multiculturalism Act, 2000 (NSW), sets a legislative requirement for the CEO of each public authority to implement the principles of multiculturalism. The University of Wollongong Multicultural Plan provides a framework for reporting multicultural activities.
    • c. The Racial Discrimination Act, 1975 (Commonwealth) makes it unlawful to discriminate because of race, colour, nationality, ethnic or ethno-religious background.
    • d. The Sex Discrimination Act, 1984 makes it unlawful to discriminate because you are a man or because you are a woman. It is unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of sex, marital status, pregnancy, or potential pregnancy.
    • e. The Disability Discrimination Act, 1992 (Commonwealth) provides protection for everyone in Australia against discrimination based on disability. It is unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of disability. This includes physical, intellectual, psychiatric, sensory, neurological or learning disabilities, physical disfigurement, and illnesses such as HIV/AIDS.
    • f. The Age Discrimination Act, 2004 (Commonwealth) prohibits less favourable treatment not only because of age, but also because of characteristics generally pertaining to age and characteristics generally imputed to people of that age.

6 Policy Statement

  • 1. The policy supports the following University principles and policies:
    • a. The University’s Principles of a shared commitment to promoting and celebrating:
      • i. Mutual respect and collegiality
      • ii. Diversity of cultures, ideas and peoples
      • iii. Receptiveness to the diversity of cultures, ideas and peoples
      • iv. Indigenous perspectives and reconciliation
      • v. Equity and social justice
    • b. The UOW Graduate Qualities:
      • i. Responsible: Understand how decisions can affect others and make ethically informed choices. Appreciate and respect diversity. Act with integrity as part of local, national, global and professional communities.
    • c. The Student Charter:
      • i. The Right to a safe and secure environment that is free from discrimination, bullying or harassment.
      • ii. A Responsibility to:
        • i. Respect the diversity of the University and broader communities.
        • ii. Behave responsibly and honestly in ways that are considerate of the rights and needs of others and refrain from behaviour that may adversely affect the experiences of others.
        • iii. Recognise and respect the cultural background and heritage of others.

Strategies designed to engender respect for diversity

  • 2. The University aims to achieve its goals of developing and maintaining an inclusive environment through educational and developmental strategies. These include:
    • a. Requiring all staff to complete EO Online Module One in the first six months of employment, and managers and supervisors are also required to complete EO Online Module Two.
    • b. Requiring all incoming undergraduate students to complete Responsibilities, Rights and Respect Online (RRR Online) in their first year of study.
    • c. Establishing inclusive teaching, learning and research activities where diversity and different learning styles are valued.
    • d. Considering the principles that support diversity, anti-racism and non-discrimination when reviewing the content of subjects and courses.
    • e. Providing effective induction and development programs for staff to improve their ability to work effectively in an environment that reflects the diversity of the Australian community.
    • f. The use of inclusive language in all academic and administrative written and spoken communication.
    • g. Raising awareness that body language can be both inclusive and exclusive.
    • h. Encouraging student and staff involvement in celebrating diversity through campus wide activities including International Week, NAIDOC Week, Reconciliation Week and Sexuality Week.
    • i. Celebrating and capitalising on the diverse experiences and talents of students and staff.
    • j. Expanding links with the local communities to promote values of inclusiveness.
    • k. Educating all students and staff to understand their responsibilities under this policy, and appreciate the consequences of non-compliance with University Policy and relevant state and federal laws.

When there is a lack of respect for diversity

  • 3. If students or staff members experience or observe discrimination or racist behaviour or practices on campus, they are encouraged to address the matter at the time, in the context, and with the people involved, at the most local level possible to prevent repetition or escalation. This may include: providing feedback to the person that the terminology or behaviour was offensive; that terminology was misused or behaviour was construed as intimidating or similar; asking the person to stop a particular behaviour or cease use of the terminology. In situations where this is not possible or the circumstances do not provide an opportunity to do this, the student or staff member should report the incident to an appropriate staff member such as an immediate supervisor or senior staff member.
  • 4. Confidential advice to assist with addressing the matter may be sourced from:
    • a. Director EED
    • b. Manager WHS
    • c. HR Advisors
    • d. University Grievance Advisors
    • e. Staff or Union Representatives
    • f. University Counsellors
    • g. Residence Managers
    • h. Student Advocacy Officers
    • i. Student Support Advisers
    • j. Student Ombudsman
  • 5. Where a staff member wishes to make a formal complaint they should refer to the Grievance Policy and Grievance Investigation Procedures which outlines the process for reporting and managing inappropriate or unlawful behaviour.
  • 6. Where a student wishes to make a formal complaint they should refer to the Student Conduct Rules.

7 Roles & Responsibilities

  • 1. Deans, Directors, Heads of Schools and Managers of Units are required to:
    • a. implement this policy in their work area to enable a workplace and study environment where respect for diversity is expected;
    • b. ensure that any incident of deliberate lack of respect, that is observed or reported, is dealt with promptly;
    • c. provide leadership in demonstrating respect for diversity; and
    • d. role model appropriate, respectful professional behaviour.
  • 2. All staff and students are responsible for their own actions, and are responsible for educating themselves in the appropriate standards of behaviour expected of them.
  • 3. Roles and responsibilities in relation to investigating a lack of respect for diversity are outlined in the Grievance Policy and Procedures for Investigating Grievances and/or the Student Conduct Rules.
  • 4. All staff and students have a responsibility to address concerns regarding respect for diversity in a professional manner. Any staff member or student who is found to have made allegations against another person which are not in good faith or which they know to be false may be subject to disciplinary action. This may include an apology, counselling, exclusion from the University, or in the case of staff, dismissal.

8 Review and Change History

Version Control

Date Effective

Approved By



11 December 1998

University Council

First Version – Respect for Cultural Diversity Policy


6 March 2007

Administrative Committee

Replacement of Version 1 – Respect for Cultural Diversity Policy


6 May 2009

Vice-Principal (Administration)

Migrated to UOW Policy Template as per Policy Directory Refresh


9 March 2010

Vice-Principal (Administration)

Future review date identified in accordance with Standard on UOW Policy



Administrative Committee

Major policy review: Updated Definitions, revised Purpose of Policy, Legislative Requirements expanded, added Policy Statement, additional strategies to engender respect for diversity, removed Staff Recruitment and Retention Strategies, added contacts to assist with disputes, added Roles & Responsibilities.


30 Nov 2012

Vice-Principal (Administration)

Updated to reflect change from OHS to WHS.


13 February 2014

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education)

Update to reflect change from Dean of Students to Student Ombudsman.

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