Harassment Policy

1. Anti-Discrimination & Sexual Harassment Policy

The following policy on anti-discrimination and sexual harassment is based on the policy of the Australian College of Theology.

The Reformed Theological College does not tolerate any form of discrimination or sexual harassment.

We believe that all employees, students, and residents have the right to work, study, and reside in an environment free of discrimination and harassment. The College is committed to providing an environment that is safe for its employees, students, and residents.

Discrimination occurs when someone is treated unfavourably because of: his or her sex; marital status; pregnancy; parental status; breastfeeding; age; race; impairment; religious belief or activity; political belief or activity; trade union activity; lawful sexual activity; gender identity; sexuality; family responsibilities; and, association with, or relation to, a person identified on the basis of any of the above attributes.

It is the responsibility of the College leadership to ensure that there is no discrimination in its operations.

Harassment in general, and sexual harassment in particular, is of concern, as it may adversely affect a staff member’s performance of duties, and a student’s or a resident’s progress within a course of studies.

It also brings into question the integrity and standing of the College and its programmes.

Any reports of discrimination or harassment will be treated seriously and investigated promptly and impartially. It is the responsibility of the College to ensure that no one feels uncomfortable, embarrassed, scared or worried about reporting an incident, which has caused him or her distress.

Positively it is the responsibility of staff to treat their colleagues and the students equitably and with due respect.

Should any staff member, student or resident wish to report an incident of discrimination or harassment this should, in the first instance, be referred to the Dean of Students or College Principal. If the complaint is substantiated the matter will be referred to the full faculty for their consideration. Details of any action taken by the Dean of Students or Principal will be conveyed to the complainant. No one will be disadvantaged in his or her employment opportunities, student status or resident status as a result of lodging a complaint.

The procedures for dealing with a complaint of harassment or sexual harassment are set out in the following section.

If students have grievances of a personal nature, resulting from conflict with other students, residents or staff, both students, residents and staff should respond to the conflict according to the following principles:

  • We will seek to glorify God by maintaining a non-judgmental and forgiving attitude and praying for each other.
  • We will take responsibility for our own contribution to the conflict.
  • We will not talk about others behind their backs.
  • We will choose to overlook minor offences and will talk directly and graciously with those whose offences seem too serious to overlook.
  • If the conflict cannot be resolved in private we will ask others in the body of Christ (e.g. a student rep, a member of staff, residence supervisors) to help us settle the matter in a biblical manner. If the matter still cannot be resolved, it should be taken to the Dean of Students or Principal, as appropriate, who will be the final arbiter of disputes.

2. Procedures for dealing with a Complaint of Harassment or Sexual Harassment

2.1 The Nature of Harassment and Sexual Harassment

Harassment is a form of abuse and encompasses a wide range of physical and verbal behaviours which erode the dignity of an individual. It violates the boundaries the individual has drawn around his/her person and property.

Its nature may be implicit (e.g. poking fun at a person’s values, the inappropriate exercise of power over a person) or explicit (eg. intrusion into an individual’s “personal space” and/or refusal to leave a person and his/her property alone when asked to).

It may take the form of an isolated incident or a series of incidents. It includes:

  • behaviour which a reasonable person would consider to be:
  • offensive
  • intimidating
  • humiliating
  • threatening to a person or group of persons
  • bullying
  • the use of rude, foul and abusive language
  • constant criticism
  • humiliating and demeaning conduct in front of others
  • taunts and ridicule
  • provision of offensive material

Sexual harassment is a form of abuse involving unwelcome sexual gestures. It encompasses a wide range of physical and verbal behaviours which erode the dignity of an individual by degrading the sexuality of the individual.

Sexual harassment may be implicit (eg. stares, gestures, sexual innuendo) or explicit (eg. touching, fondling, sexual proposition). It includes the demeaning of persons whether by persons of the other gender or of the same gender. It may take the form of an isolated incident or a series of incidents.

2.2 Complaints by students against fellow students

  • Any student may make a complaint concerning harassment in general or sexual harassment in particular, to the Dean of students.
  • Both verbal complaints and written complaints may be made and will be taken seriously.
  • In either case, there should be clear and sufficient information to allow a complaint to be assessed and dealt with.

In the case of verbal complaints:

  • Either the Dean of Students or Principal, with whom the complaint has been lodged, will assess the substance of the complaint and may confer with the faculty/staff in doing so.
  • Where he deems appropriate, he will either
    ~ speak with the student against whom the complaint has been made (the respondent), seeking to deal with the situation pastorally, or
    ~ recommend that the complainant lodge a formal, written complaint.
  • Where action is taken, including pastoral action, the respondent will have the right to know the precise nature of the complaint and who has made it, unless, in the view of the Dean of Students and Principal, there is a reasonable probability of risk for the complainant in so informing the respondent.
  • An appropriate outcome from pastoral action may include a verbal or written apology, mediation (only in minor matters and only by mutual consent), or an undertaking by the respondent that he/she will undergo counselling.
  • Where pastoral action is undertaken and it fails to achieve a satisfactory outcome, the complainant has the right to lodge a written complaint to the Faculty, so that further action might be taken.
  • The complainant will be informed of action being taken and of any decisions made in regard to the complaint.
  • Pastoral care will be provided for the complainant, including doing whatever is feasible to protect the complainant from further harassment.

In the case of written complaints:

  • The Dean of Students or Principal will assess the substance of the complaint and may confer with the faculty/staff in doing so.
  • Where he/she deems appropriate, he/she will either
    ~ speak with the student against whom the complaint has been made, seeking to deal with the situation pastorally, or
    ~ where the complaint is of a particularly serious and substantial nature, refer the matter to the full faculty and/ or Chairman of the Board for consideration.
  • Where action is taken, including pastoral action, the respondent will have the right to know the precise nature of the complaint and who has made it, unless, in the view of the Dean of Students and Principal, there is a reasonable probability of risk for the complainant in so informing the respondent.
  • An appropriate outcome from pastoral action may include a verbal or written apology, mediation (only in minor matters and only by mutual consent), or an undertaking by the respondent that he/she will undergo counselling.
  • Where pastoral action fails to achieve a satisfactory outcome, and where the complaint is of a serious nature and able to be substantiated, the matter will be referred to the full faculty and/or Chairman of the Board for consideration.
  • Where the matter is so referred the respondent will be notified in writing that this action is being taken and he/she will have the right to submit a written response to the complaint to faculty.
  • Action by the faculty, in the event of a complaint being substantiated in its view, may include a requirement that the respondent enter into an accountability relationship with an appropriate person, a requirement that the respondent undergo counselling, suspension of the respondent, or expulsion of the respondent.
  • Pastoral care will be provided for the complainant, including doing whatever is feasible to protect the complainant from further harassment.
  • The faculty may, at its discretion, undertake to provide counselling for the complainant.
  • The complainant will be informed in writing of action being taken and of any decisions made in regard to the complaint.

2.3 Complaints by students against faculty/staff

The above procedures will apply except that complaints are to be made directly to the Principal. If the Principal is the one against whom a complaint is being made, a complaint will be made to the Chairman of the Board.

2.4 Complaints by faculty/staff against students

The above procedures will apply except complaints are to be made to the Principal. If the Principal is the one making the complaint, it will be made to the Chairman of the Board.