The Victorian Artists Society is committed to ensuring that members and staff interact and work in an environment where people are treated with mutual respect. It is important for a productive and harmonious workplace that members and staff are aware of the impact of their behaviours on others.
Inappropriate and unreasonable behaviour in a workplace can be considered bullying. Board members, VAS members and staff found to have either committed or condoned such behaviour while participating in VAS activities will be subject to disciplinary action.
The Victorian Artists Society will not tolerate inappropriate conduct under any circumstances and will:
• Promote appropriate standards of behaviour at all times.
• Treat complaints of inappropriate conduct in a sensitive, fair, timely and confidential manner.
• Implement training and awareness-raising strategies to ensure all employees know their rights and responsibilities.
• Provide an effective procedure for complaints of inappropriate conduct to be addressed.
• Encourage the reporting of behaviour which breaches the Code of Conduct policy.
• Ensure protection from victimisation or reprisals for persons reporting inappropriate conduct.
Inappropriate conduct that can be considered bullying is repeated unreasonable behaviour directed towards an employee or group of employees that creates a risk to health and safety.
This may be committed by an employee, VAS member or board member behaving inappropriately to another, or by a group of employees, VAS members or board members targeting an individual. Customers, clients and contractors might also behave inappropriately. This kind of behaviour may also amount to unlawful discrimination.
The following types of behaviour where directed towards an individual and repeated, or occurring as part of a pattern of behaviour, could be considered to be inappropriate:
• Demeaning language or verbal abuse.
• Threats, physical or verbal intimidation.
• Outbursts of anger or aggression.
• Excluding or isolating employees.
• “Ganging up” on an employee.
• Psychological harassment or intimidation.
• Giving employees impossible assignments.
• Deliberately changing work rosters to inconvenience particular employees.
• Deliberately withholding information that is vital for effective work performance.
The above list is not exhaustive.
Reasonable management actions carried out in a fair and reasonable manner are not inappropriate conduct. For example, actions could include:
• Setting performance goals, standards and deadlines.
• Allocating work to an employee.
• Rostering and allocating work hours.
• Deciding not to select an employee for promotion.
• Informing an employee about unsatisfactory work performance.
• Informing an employee about inappropriate behaviour.
• Implementing organisational changes.
• Performance management processes.
• Constructive feedback.
• Requesting information from a worker regarding incidents, injury or return to work plans and programs.
All employees have a legal responsibility to care for their own health and safety and that of co-workers, and therefore must not engage in acts which constitute inappropriate behaviour. In addition, employees are required to follow instructions given by their supervisor/manager relating to the prevention of workplace injuries and illnesses. This applies to measures to prevent inappropriate conduct in the workplace which includes monitoring the work environment to ensure acceptable standards of conduct are observed at all times.
Therefore, all staff are responsible for promoting this policy by ensuring:
• You treat other staff with respect and courtesy.
• Comply with the Code of Conduct Policy.
• Incidences of inappropriate conduct are reported to the appropriate manager or supervisor.
• You fully participate in any investigation into an incident of inappropriate conduct, and maintain confidentiality.
What can I do if I believe someone has behaved/is behaving inappropriately to me?
Employees may deal with inappropriate conduct either by resolving the issues themselves by discussing the problem with the person involved, or by seeking assistance from the VAS manager, VAS President or appropriate board member.
It is important that you do not ignore circumstances where you feel you are being bullied, thinking it will go away. Ignoring the behaviour could be wrongly interpreted as approval by the person causing the inappropriate conduct.
Below is a summary of the steps that can be taken to address individual concerns and who to contact:
• If you can, try to resolve the problem yourself with the person(s) involved as soon as possible. You may find that they didn’t mean to do what they did.
• If you’re unsure of how to handle the problem yourself, or you just want to talk about the problem with someone and get more information about what you can do, talk to the VAS Manager or VAS President.
• The VAS President will be advised of the inappropriate conduct complaint by the VAS Manager.
If you do make a complaint about inappropriate conduct, you are responsible for ensuring that you:
• Make the complaint honestly and in good faith.
• Provide all the facts relevant to the complaint.
• Co-operate with the investigation and resolution processes.
The Victorian Artists Society may not assist you to deal with a complaint of inappropriate conduct where:
• The complaint has been satisfactorily dealt with or resolved previously (unless another inappropriate conduct incident has occurred since).
• The complaint is made anonymously without sufficient detail being provided so as to allow investigation or resolution of the matter.
• The complaint is frivolous, vexatious or malicious, for example where false or misleading information is provided, relevant information is withheld, facts are distorted or there is no demonstrated commitment to resolution. (Note: Depending on the circumstances, these types of complaints could lead to disciplinary action including dismissal action being taken against the person making the complaint).
• The complaint does not constitute inappropriate conduct as defined by the policy.
If you observe an incident in which another employee is being treated inappropriately, bring it to the attention of the VAS Manager.
If a complaint of inappropriate conduct has been made about you, you are responsible for ensuring that you:
• Cooperate with the investigation and resolution processes.
• Provide a written or verbal response to the complaint which has been made.
• Provide all relevant facts to the person conducting the investigation.
Anyone involved in a complaint of inappropriate conduct, or its investigation, must ensure that the circumstances and facts of the complaint are disclosed only to those people who are directly involved in progressing its investigation and resolution, or have a ‘need to know’. In particular, it is important that staff who either make a complaint, or may be witnesses to the circumstances giving rise to the complaint, do not discuss the matter outside the investigation and resolution processes.
If an employee, member or board member brings an allegation of inappropriate conduct to your attention:
• Behave consistently with the Code of Conduct Policy.
• Resolve the complaint as quickly as possible.
• Be sympathetic, sensitive and serious; the complaint is obviously serious to the person making it.
• Enquire into the matter within 2 working days, and attempt to resolve it as soon as possible.
• Take preventative measures in the workplace (eg. staff education).
• Ignore the complaint.
• Tell the person making the complaint to sort it out themselves.
• Make a judgement about whether the complaint is true or not.
• Say that the employee should put up with the inappropriate conduct.
• Talk to anyone about the issue except those involved in the investigation and resolution of the complaint.
• Prejudge the merits of the complaint.
1. Notify the VAS President immediately.
2. Document the complaint.
3. In discussion with the VAS President or their designate, determine who should investigate, and if possible, mediate the complaint.
• Investigation of the complaint of inappropriate conduct must commence within 2 working days of receipt of the complaint.
• With the VAS President or their designate, determine who is the appropriate person to investigate the complaint.
• The investigator must be someone who is impartial, suitably qualified and is competent to conduct investigations. This person may need to be sourced from outside the organisation.
• The investigator must speak to the parties involved, and all witnesses if any. The investigator must report on whether or not the complaint has been substantiated, and the proposed action to be taken in response.
• The investigator must document all findings and outcomes, and keep detailed notes of conversations including messages left.
• Keep the complainant, and the person against whom allegations were made, informed of progress. This should be done in the form of written memos.
• Mediation should be the first consideration in resolving a inappropriate conduct complaint. This form of dispute resolution is appropriate only if the person making the complaint agrees.
• The appropriate action, based on the findings of the investigation, must be undertaken promptly. Such action may include:
1. Determine whether an interpreter is required.
2. The complainant may bring a support person with them (eg. Chaplin, family member, friend).
3. Arrange an appropriate venue to meet with the complainant. The venue should be private and free of interruptions, and wherever possible put the complainant at ease. The venue must be conducive to maintaining confidentiality.
4. Allocate enough time to discuss the complaint in full.
5. Explain how the investigation process is conducted, and the possible outcomes.
6. Advise the complainant that the matters discussed are confidential, and that the complainant must only discuss the issue with those persons investigating the complaint, or who are formally supporting them through the process.
7. Obtain a broad outline of the complaint, followed by a detailed description of what is alleged to have happened, when it is alleged to have happened (including dates and times), where it is alleged to have happened and by whom. Obtain and record all relevant facts.
8. Ask the complainant whether there are any witnesses, or other evidence that supports their version of events. Record the names of any witnesses to the alleged inappropriate conduct, and obtain copies of any documentation provided to support the allegations. Advise the complainant that witnesses will be interviewed, and that the complainant should not speak to the witnesses about the issues.
9. Explain any other action that will be taken, eg. speaking to the alleged bully.
10. Ask the complainant what they want done in regard to the alleged inappropriate conduct. It is at this point that mediation should be offered as a means of resolving the complaint. If mediation is accepted, the mediation should be arranged to occur as soon as possible.
11. Counselling should be offered to the complainant. If accepted, this may be arranged through the Employee Assistance Program provider.
12. Advise the complainant when they can expect to be advised of an outcome to their complaint.
1. Determine whether an interpreter is required.
2. The respondent may bring a support person with them (eg. Chaplin, family member, friend).
3. Arrange an appropriate venue to meet with the respondent. The venue should be private and free of interruptions, and wherever possible put the respondent at ease. The venue must be conducive to maintaining confidentiality.
4. Allocate enough time to discuss the allegation(s) in full.
5. Explain to the respondent your role in the investigation of the complaint against them, and that it is important that their version of events is obtained.
6. Advise the respondent that the matters discussed are confidential, and that the respondent must only discuss the issue with those persons investigating the complaint, or who are formally supporting them through the process.
7. Explain to the respondent exactly what it is that they have been accused of saying or doing, including names, dates, times and locations.
8. Provide the respondent with a written memo stating the allegations.
9. Ask the person to respond, either verbally or in writing, to the allegations.
10. Take notes of the respondent’s version of events. Obtain and record all relevant facts.
11. Ask the respondent whether there are any witnesses, or other evidence that supports their version of events. Record the names of any witnesses, and obtain copies of any documentation. Advise the respondent that witnesses will be interviewed, and that the respondent should not speak to the witnesses about the issues.
12. If the allegations are denied, ask the respondent if they can think of a reason why these allegations have been made.
13. Ask the respondent what they believe may resolve the matter.
14. Inform the respondent that they must not victimise or bother the complainant in any way. Doing so will result in immediate action against them, eg. being stood down pending the outcome of the investigation.
15. Counselling should be offered to the respondent. If accepted, this may be arranged through the Employee Assistance Program provider.
16. Advise the respondent when they can expect to be advised of an outcome of the investigation.
• Determine whether or not the allegations are substantiated, or whether there is insufficient evidence or information to make a conclusion. Record in writing your conclusions, and the reason for them.
• If the alleged inappropriate conduct is substantiated, there may be a basis for disciplinary action against the person responsible. If termination of employment is appropriate, this must comply with unfair dismissal laws.
• If the allegations of inappropriate conduct are unsubstantiated, ensure that there is no action taken against the person whom the complaint was made, and that no notes about the complaint are retained in their personnel file.
• If there is insufficient information to make a determination in regard to an allegation of inappropriate conduct, the report notes should be kept in the VAS files, and no action is to be taken against either party.
• Advise the complainant and the person about whom the complaint was made of the investigation findings and actions. If the allegation is substantiated, action will include a written record of the investigation being placed in the perpetrators personnel file.
• Provide a written summary to the VAS President.
• The VAS Manager will store all inappropriate conduct complaints files securely and confidentially.
• Preventing and responding to bullying at work (WorkSafe Victoria Guidance Note).
• How WorkSafe applies the law in relation to employing or engaging suitably qualified persons to provide health and safety advice (WorkSafe Victoria Guideline).
• Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004.
• Sex Discrimination Act.
• Race Discrimination Act.
• Disability Discrimination Act.
• Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workforce Act.
• Human Rights and Equal opportunity Commission Act.
• Workplace Relations Act.
• Crimes Act.
• Fair Work Act.
We would like to pay our respects to the traditional owners of the land on which our building stands, their leaders, past, present and emerging.