A-Z Policy Listing

INCLUSIVE LANGUAGE GUIDELINES

Date first approved:

December 2012

Date of effect:

December 2012

Date last amended:
(refer to Version Control Table)

21 July 2017

Date of Next Review:

21 July 2018

First Approved by:

Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor

Custodian title & e-mail address:

Director, Human Resources
personnel_managers@uow.edu.au

Author:

Director Employment Equity and Diversity
Lynne Wright

Responsible Division & Unit:

Human Resources Division

Supporting documents, procedures & forms:

Respect for Diversity Policy

Relevant Legislation & External Documents:

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)

Audience:

Public

Contents

1 Purpose of the Guidelines

    1. The purpose of this document is to establish guidelines for Inclusive Language. The University promotes an inclusive campus culture that is respectful to staff, students and the wider community.

    2. These guidelines are intended to assist staff and students in using language that is free from demeaning inferences and negative stereotypes that can make some individuals feel excluded. The examples contained in these guidelines are by no means complete but assist in raising awareness in how language can discriminate against certain groups in our community.

2 Definitions

Word/Term

Definition (with examples if required)

Bisexual

Refers to a person who is sexually and emotionally attracted to members of both dominant sexual identities (male and female)

Disability

Disability, in relation to a person, includes:a. total or partial loss of a person's bodily or mental functions;

b. total or partial loss of a part of the body;

c. the presence of a body of organisms causing disease or illness;

d. the presence of a body of organisms capable of causing disease or illness;

e. the malfunction, malformation, or disfigurement of a part of a person's body;

f. a disorder or malfunction that results in the person learning differently from a person without the disorder or malfunction; or

g. a disorder or illness that affects a person's thought processes, perception of reality, emotions, or judgment or that results in disturbed behaviour;

and one which

h. presently exists;

i. previously existed but no longer exists;

j. may exist in the future; or

k. is imputed to a person.

Discrimination

When someone is treated unfairly because they belong to a particular group of people or have a particular characteristic.

For example treating someone unfairly or differently because of their sex, pregnancy, race (including colour, ethnicity and descent), disability, sexual preference, religion, transgender, carer’s responsibilities, marital status, social origin, political belief, employee association activity, irrelevant criminal record or age.

Indirect discrimination occurs when there is a requirement or rule that is the same for everyone but in effect disadvantages people from a particular group more than people from other groups - unless the requirement is reasonable in the circumstances.

Diversity

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

Gay

Men attracted emotionally, romantically, and/or sexually to men.

Heterosexuality

Refers to a sexual feeling or behaviour directed toward a person or persons of the opposite sex.

Inclusive Language

Refers to language that does not demean, insult, exclude, stereotype, or trivialise people on the basis of their disability, race, gender and sexuality. It means avoiding terminology that may be offensive or portray any group in a stereotypical way.

Indigenous People

Refers to Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people.

Intersex

Is a biological condition where a person is born neither exclusively male nor female. The previous term for intersex was hermaphrodite.

Language

For the purpose of these guidelines the term language is used to refer to both written and verbal communication.

Lesbian

A woman who is emotionally, romantically, or sexually attracted to other women.

Sexist language

Refers to discrimination as it favours one sex over the other.

Sexuality

Refers to sexual identities such as heterosexual, gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender and intersexual.

Transsexual

Refers to a person who identifies with a gender other than the one to which they were assigned at birth or soon after.

3 Application & Scope

Background

  • 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. These Guidelines supplement the Respect for Diversity Policy.

Scope

  • 3. These Guidelines apply 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 in any capacity.

4 Guideline Principles

  • 1. The University acknowledges that language can be reflective of community values, knowledge and personal experiences and it is, therefore, an expression of diversity. The use of language can contribute to positive and negative situations that staff and students experience. The use of inclusive language is paramount in being respectful to diversity and being considerate to students and colleagues in general.
  • 2. The guidelines outlined in this document are provided to eliminate discriminatory language and create a positive climate of inclusive interactions and relationships. It is noted that discrimination, in many of its manifestations, is unlawful under State and Federal legislation. The University takes seriously its obligations under the NSW State and Federal legislation.

5 Guidelines for Inclusive Language

Use of gender neutral terms

  • 1. Inappropriate and insensitive use of gender terms can lead to sexist language. Sexist language is discrimination as it favours one sex over the other. The use of such language can result in some people having a decreased status and role in society and is not acceptable within the University.

Alternatives for using ‘man’ as a generic term

  • Avoid
  • Man
  • Alternative/s
  • Human, human being, man and woman, women and men
  • Avoid
  • The best man for the job
  • Alternative/s
  • The best person/candidate for the job
  • Avoid
  • Man of letters
  • Alternative/s
  • Scholar, academic
  • Avoid
  • Men of Science
  • Alternative/s
  • Scientists
  • Avoid
  • Manpower
  • Alternative/s
  • Workforce, personnel, staff, human resources
  • Avoid
  • Man-made
  • Alternative/s
  • Artificial, constructed, fabricated, handmade

The use of ‘man’ as a verb

  • Avoid
  • We need someone to man the desk/phones
  • Alternative/s
  • We need someone to staff the desk/phones

Alternatives to traditional male and female activities

  • Avoid
  • Sportsmanlike
  • Alternative/s
  • Fair, sporting
  • Avoid
  • Housewife
  • Alternative/s
  • Homemaker, parent, caregiver
  • Avoid
  • Mothering/Fathering
  • Alternative/s
  • Parenting

Alternatives to sex specific occupation terms

  • Avoid
  • Chairman
  • Alternative/s
  • Chair, chairperson, convenor
  • Avoid
  • Businessman
  • Alternative/s
  • Business person
  • Avoid
  • Groundsman
  • Alternative/s
  • Grounds person, Gardener

Alternatives to avoiding the pronoun ‘he’ when referring to both sexes

  • Avoid
  • The student may exercise his right to appeal
  • The staff member may use her discretion
  • Her right to a workplace free from discrimination and harassment
  • Alternative/s
  • The student may exercise their right to appeal
  • The staff member may use his or her discretion
  • One’s right to a workplace free from discrimination and harassment

Alternatives to avoid patronising expressions

  • Avoid
  • The office girls
  • Alternative/s
  • The administrative/office assistants
  • Avoid
  • Ladies
  • Alternative/s
  • Women
  • Avoid
  • Colloquialisms such as darl, darling, doll, chick, ma’m (madam), love
  • Alternative/s
  • Use person’s name, refrain from calling them generic condescending term

Alternatives to avoid sex-role stereotyping

  • Avoid
  • Lecturers have wives to support
  • Alternative/s
  • Lecturers have partners/families to support

Inclusive sexuality terms

  • 1. Sexuality can be experienced and expressed in various forms. It refers to sexual identities such as heterosexual, gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender, and intersexual. A bias exists towards heterosexuality and this means that other sexual identities are often discriminated against both directly and indirectly. This existent bias can narrow possibilities for sexual identities and make people feel inferior.

Inclusive sexuality terms

  • Avoid
  • Dyke, fag, fairy, poofta
  • Alternative/s
  • Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex - person and people
  • Avoid
  • Straight
  • Alternative/s
  • Heterosexual
  • Avoid
  • Transsexual
  • Alternative/s
  • Transgender, intersex
  • 2. The term “Queer” in the past has been used as a derogatory term and more recently has been adopted as a term to refer to all people who identify as gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender, and intersexual (GLBTI). The GLBTI student group at the University is called the “Queer Collective”. It is now acceptable to add “Q” to be added to GLBTIQ.

Race and ethnicity

  • 3. Australia’s diverse population consists of individuals from differing cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Language has a dominant role in the expression of all individuals and groups in society. This, in turn, can lead to negative group relations and conflicts due to the misuse and labelling of particular populations. There are various ways in which language can be used to foster an inclusive and respectful environment.

Race and ethnicity

  • Avoid
  • Using the term ‘Australian’ in ways that exclude migrant minorities
  • Alternative/s
  • ‘Australian’ should be used to refer to any Australian citizen irrespective of the person’s ethnic or racial background or country of birth
  • Avoid
  • Asian
  • Alternative/s
  • If the person is from a country in Asia, it is more respectful to specify the country of birth/origin. For example, a person from Japan.
  • Avoid
  • Non English Speaking Background (NESB)
  • Alternative/s
  • Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD)
  • Use specific terms to describe certain groups such as immigrants, people born overseas, people whose first language is not English, people born to a particular region or country. For example, Australian whose first language is Vietnamese.
  • Avoid
  • Pom
  • Alternative/s
  • Person from England
  • Avoid
  • Kiwi
  • Alternative/s
  • Person from New Zealand
  • Avoid
  • Yank
  • Alternative/s
  • Person from the United States of America

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People

  • 4. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People are Indigenous Australians. Language is often used negatively in a stereotypical sense to describe Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People. For instance, the terms ‘blacks’ and ‘Aborigines’ can imply primitiveness and do not emulate the collective group and individual names that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people would prefer.
  • 5. It is imperative to show respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by ensuring that the terms ‘Indigenous’ and ‘Aboriginals’ are always capitalised, and they should never be abbreviated
  • 6. Many Aboriginal groups identify themselves through their own language using local terms, for example, the term Koori is used in parts of south eastern Australia. Such terms should be utilised in order to establish and maintain positive relations and networks with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People

  • Avoid
  • Full-blood Aboriginals, half caste, part Aboriginal
  • Alternative/s
  • People who identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
  • Aboriginal man/woman, Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people/person
  • Avoid
  • Aborigine
  • Alternative/s
  • Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people/person, First Nations people, Indigenous Australians, Australian Indigenous, Australian Aboriginal, Aboriginal Australian
  • Avoid
  • ATSI
  • Alternative/s
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (use full spelling)

Ability

  • 7. Language regarding disability or ability has often been used to emphasise the disability rather than the person and their unique qualities. The use of such language can lead to people with a disability being labelled as suffering or as victims. Ultimately, it is vital to focus on the individual and not the disability to sustain inclusive diverse relations with people.

Ability

  • Avoid
  • Handicapped person
  • Alternative/s
  • Person with a physical disability
  • Avoid
  • Disabled, retarded
  • Alternative/s
  • People with an intellectual disability
  • Avoid
  • Deaf
  • Alternative/s
  • Person with a hearing disability
  • Avoid
  • Spastic
  • Alternative/s
  • Person with cerebral palsy
  • Avoid
  • Cripple
  • Alternative/s
  • Person with mobility impairment
  • Avoid
  • Confined to a wheelchair/wheelchair bound
  • Alternative/s
  • Uses a wheelchair/wheelchair user
  • 8. Style manuals for authors, editors and publishers are available for different disciplines and can provide a valuable resource for inclusive language in particular disciplines. For example, The American Psychological Association Style and the Style Manual for Authors, Editors and Printers published by the Australian Government Publishing Services Press.

6 Roles & Responsibilities

  • 1. All staff have a responsibility for their personal use of language, and as a student or staff member how their language is used in a research, and teaching and learning context.
  • 2. Refer to the Respect for Diversity Policy if there is a deliberate and blatant misuse of language that is offensive or discriminatory.

7 Version Control and Change History

Version Control

Date Effective

Approved By

Amendment

1

December 2012

Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor

First Version. Replaces the Non-Discriminatory Language Practice and Presentation Policy and Guidelines

2

21 July 2017

Vice-Chancellor

Minor amendment to “disability” and “discrimination” definitions, allocation of new Policy Custodian.

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