|College||Melbourne School of Theology|
|Executive Management Team||This group comprises the Executive Principal, Vice Principal (Academic), Vice Principal (Community & Operations), Vice Principal (Head of Eastern College Australia)|
|Faculty||Those staff who have been designated and remunerated as teaching members of staff, and for which specific policies apply because of their role in teaching.|
|MST||Melbourne School of Theology|
|Sexual Harassment||Legal Definition - Sexual harassment is an unwelcome sexual advance, unwelcome request for sexual favours or other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature which makes a person feel offended, humiliated and/or intimidated, where a reasonable person would anticipate that reaction in the circumstances.
|Staff||This is the general term used for all people employed by MST, whether full-time, part-time or casual.|
Melbourne School of Theology is a charitable corporation. Its directors, officers and staff are obliged to act always in the best interests of the college. Faculty, staff and students are expected to act in ways which foster spiritual well-being in each other and build up the college as a Christian community.
As a religious institution the college has an exemption from compliance with State and Commonwealth equal opportunity and discrimination legislation. However, subject to its paramount obligation the college wishes to honour in principle the "spirit" of such legislation where it is supported in scripture. The college does not discriminate on the basis of race, colour, national or ethnic origin, nationality, gender, handicap or disability, medical record, or age, in any of its policies, procedures, or practices.
Intimidation and sexual harassment are violations of Christ's commandment to love our neighbour as ourselves. They deny the image of God in the other and negate our oneness in Christ. Both usually involve an abuse of power. They interfere with shared ministry and sever the Body of Christ. When one suffers, all suffer together. This policy aims to prevent the occurrence of such dysfunction and harm in the college community and to reinforce helpful principles for attitudes and behaviour outside the college. Faculty, staff, students or volunteers may seek advice or complain under this policy if they believe they have been subjected to intimidation or sexual harassment. The college intends to take action to prevent, correct and if necessary, discipline behaviour which violates this policy. Where behaviour violates civil or criminal law, it will be reported as appropriate.
Intimidation can occur in the form of exploitation, such as favours solicited by the threatened use of personal strength, or in the form of explicit or implicit threats. Intimidation or harassment can be based on racial or other personal differences and include personally offensive comments, jokes, name calling and teasing. Sexual harassment is an unwelcome sexual advance or unwelcome request for sexual favours or other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature which results in offence, humiliation or intimidation. Sexual harassment may occur as a single incident or a series of incidents and may include:
- Personally offensive comments
- Sexual or smutty jokes
- Comments or teasing about a person's appearance or private life
- Persistent unwelcome invitation/s, telephone calls, written messages or emails on campus or at home
- Being followed home
- Interfering with personal privacy
- Offensive hand or body gestures
- Physical contact such as patting, pinching, touching, embracing
- The display of sexually suggestive material
- Unwanted declarations of affection
- Sexual assault and rape.
Forms of intimidation and sexual behaviour which may initially appear mild or trivial can constitute severe harassment in staff/faculty-student or employer-employee relationships where:
- there is formal inequality of personal status. In particular, where:
- Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a condition of instruction, academic support, employment, or participation in some other college activity;
- Submission to such conduct by an individual or group is used, or threatened, as a basis for an academic or administrative decision affecting that individual or group;
- Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's performance in academic, employment related, or other college activity.
Both men and women may be victims of intimidation and sexual harassment. Perpetrators may not be aware of their behaviour. In determining whether intimidation or sexual harassment has occurred, consideration shall be given to the totality of the circumstances and to the context of the alleged conduct. Where it is decided that intimidation or harassment has occurred, in determining the penalty the offender's record as a whole will be taken into account.
To set out MST's position on sexual harassment and procedures for dealing with sexual harassment.
This policy applies to all MST employees and students
A. Designated individuals
- MST’s Executive Management Team shall appoint at least one male and one female Designated Individual. A Designated Individual may be a student leader or a faculty or staff member. The Principal, Vice Principals and Dean may not be appointed as Designated Individuals. If any Designated Individual is involved in a complaint as complainant or respondent, another Designated Individual must be appointed.
- Designated Individuals must be trained in issues relating to intimidation, sexual harassment and conflict resolution. They must also undertake an annual review of college policies and procedures with respect to intimidation or sexual harassment.
- Members of the college community with a concern or complaint which may involve intimidation or sexual harassment are encouraged to discuss their concern with one of the nominated Designated Individuals. The designated individual can provide information about applicable college policies and procedures, outline available options for addressing the concern or complaint, and, if requested, attempt to resolve the matter through informal mediation.
- Consultation with designated individuals does not constitute formal notice of an incident of intimidation and sexual harassment. Designated individuals do not maintain any written record which would identify individuals involved or alleged to be involved in a complaint.
B. Supervisors and Student Leaders
An individual in a supervisory or student leadership capacity having direct knowledge of intimidation or sexual harassment by a member of the college community has an affirmative duty to bring the matter to the attention of a designated individual. The designated individual may serve as the complainant in such matter and may pursue the matter through the informal and/or formal complaint resolution process.
In an emergency in which the health or well-being of a member of the college community is threatened, the person so threatened, or a designated individual, supervisor, or other person who may be aware of the emergency, should promptly inform a Vice Principal. All Vice Principals are authorised to take such action as is necessary and appropriate to ensure the well-being of the community.
COMPLAINT RESOLUTION PROCEDURES
Both informal and formal complaint resolution processes are available to students, faculty and staff whenever there is an allegation of intimidation or sexual harassment against another member of the college community. Time off with pay during the scheduled working hours of the complainant, the complainant’s representative, anyone alleged to be involved, and any witnesses or other concerned parties will be granted if requested for the interview period(s) with the designated individual, designated administrator, or the Fact-Finding Committee. Filing a formal complaint constitutes notice to the college of an allegation. Formal complaints must be filed in writing to a designated administrator within 90 calendar days from the time a complainant knew or should have known of an act or acts of intimidation or sexual harassment or action taken as a result of alleged sexual harassment, or within 30 calendar days after the conclusion of informal mediation process, whichever is later.
A. Informal complaint resolution
Informal complaint resolution begins when a complainant asks a designated individual for assistance beyond mere consultation. When so requested, a designated individual may act as a mediator to clarify and overcome any misunderstanding, to arrive at a mutually agreed resolution of the situation, and to set conditions which discourage similar incidents or misunderstandings in the future. By way of example but not limitation, a designated individual acting in this mediating capacity may utilise any of the following procedures:
- Advise the complainant of actions and resources to alleviate any discomfort or harm.
- Discuss the matter separately with the complainant and the person complained against (respondent).
- With the prior consent of both the complainant and respondent, discuss the matter with both parties.
- Where desired by both parties, serve as a mediator to set satisfactory conditions for further interaction by the parties.
- Recommend that the formal complaint resolution procedures be utilised.
If the complainant is not satisfied with the results of the informal complaint resolution process, the complainant may file a formal complaint. The complainant is not obligated to use or exhaust the informal complaint resolution process before filing a formal complaint.
If the complainant withdraws the complaint or is satisfied with the results of the informal complaint process, the college nevertheless reserves the right to continue and pursue the matter through either the informal or formal complaint process as circumstances may warrant or the law may require.
B. Formal complaint resolution
Filing a formal complaint
The complainant shall file a written complaint with the Vice Principal (Community & Operations). The Vice Principal (Community & Operations) is the designated administrator. The complainant may ask a designated individual, or other person selected from among the members of the college community, for assistance in preparing the complaint. The complainant shall record with specificity the circumstances and nature of the alleged intimidation or sexual harassment.
The designated administrator will convene a Fact-Finding Committee consisting of three members, including the administrator as chair and one member from each category of the college community to which the complainant and the respondent belong. If the complainant and respondent are from the same category, the chair may appoint two members from the same category, or one member from the shared category and a member from a different category. Appointees must serve in an official capacity at the college (a student leader, a faculty member, or a staff member). If a conflict of interest or other valid reason prevents a committee member from serving, the chair shall select an alternate. The chair shall make every effort to ensure that a fair, impartial and representative committee hears the matter. If the appropriate designated administrator is not available at the time a complaint is filed, or if a conflict of interest is present, the Vice Principal (Community & Operations) will appoint an administrative alternate to convene and chair the Fact-Finding Committee.
The Chair shall give the respondent written notification that a complaint has been filed, as well as a copy of the complaint. The respondent may file a written response with the chair. The respondent may ask a designated individual, or other person selected from among the members of the college community, for assistance in preparing this response. The chair shall provide the complainant with a copy of the response.
The following standards for investigation will be observed:
- In conducting the investigation, the committee shall receive and review the complaint, the response, and other pertinent statements or documents. The complainant and respondent may each have a personal advisor, selected from among the members of the college community, to assist them in the course of the committee’s investigation. The committee chair should be notified in advance of the advisor who will accompany the complainant or respondent to any interview or meeting with the committee.
- The complainant and respondent shall be given the opportunity to respond to one another’s statements, to present witnesses and evidence on their own behalf, and to respond to evidence presented.
- The committee will interview witnesses and concerned parties individually and in conformity with privacy requirements, as it deems necessary.
- In determining whether or not a complaint of intimidation or sexual harassment has been sustained, the committee shall consider the totality of the circumstances, including the nature of the action and the context in which the alleged harassment occurred.
When, in the judgment of the committee, the positions of the complainant and respondent have been equitably heard, the committee shall submit a written Fact-Finding Report to the Principal. The Fact-Finding Report shall contain the following:
- a statement of the issues under review
- the positions of the parties
- a finding of the results of the investigation
- conclusions as to whether there is probable cause to believe that the conduct found to have occurred falls within the definition of sexual harassment as defined by this policy
- recommendation for action to be taken.
Outcome of the complaint and disciplinary action:
- The Principal will make the decision about action to be taken. The factual conclusions contained in the Fact-Finding Report shall be binding upon the Principal for the purposes of this determination.
- The Principal will discuss the decision with the designated administrator prior to taking action if the action to be taken is different than that recommended.
- The Principal will immediately notify the complainant and the respondent in writing of the outcome of the complaint after the decision has been made. In the event that discipline of an employee is to be undertaken or the decision involves other elements personal to the complainant or respondent, information provided to the complainant or respondent will be in accordance with applicable federal and state law governing the disclosure of such information.
- The Principal may initiate disciplinary action against the respondent. Sanctions undertaken shall be in accordance with those laid down in the Student Handbook or Faculty & Staff Handbook as applicable, and may, depending on the severity of the conduct, range from placing a statement in the respondent’s personnel or student file, to changing the respondent’s job position or course enrolment, to suspending temporarily the respondent from work without pay or from college, to termination of the respondent from employment or expulsion from college.
- The decision of the Principal will be made within ten working days of the receipt of the Fact-Finding Report.
If discipline is taken, the person disciplined has the right to file a formal appeal challenging the disciplinary action or alleging that applicable policies or contractual provisions were violated. The complainant also has the right to file a formal appeal challenging the Principal’s decision or alleging that applicable policies or contractual provisions were violated. Appeal must be made in writing to the president of the College Board no later than 15 working days from the date of the Principal’s notification of the decision. The President will notify the party making the appeal of the President’s decision in the matter within 15 working days of the date of the appeal. The President’s decision shall be final.
It is the intent of the College to resolve alleged intimidation and sexual harassment incidents in as timely a manner as possible. However, the time limits set forth herein may be extended for good cause.
The college values responsible speech and seeks to create and maintain a redemptive environment. Therefore, in the mediation and complaint resolution procedures, every reasonable effort is made to protect the privacy of all parties. All records pertaining to investigations conducted by the designated administrator and the Fact-Finding Committee and to the outcome of the complaint shall be maintained by the designated administrator and, upon finalisation of the complaint, by the Principal. Such records will be made available to individuals involved or alleged to be involved in a complaint, to college officials who have a need to know, and otherwise, only in accordance with applicable state or federal privacy legislation, and only to the extent required by legislation.
D. Retaliation prohibited
The college strictly prohibits retaliation against a member of the MST community who opposes the practice prohibited by this policy, who files a complaint, against whom a complaint is filed, or who otherwise is a participant in the informal or formal complaint resolution procedure. Such retaliatory conduct includes, but is not limited to, decreasing an employee’s pay, reducing a student’s grade, or downgrading a person’s performance evaluation.
Sex Discrimination Act 1984