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Ministers' Office Handbook

Attachment L

Workplace Conduct

What is Bullying, Harassment and Discrimination

Bullying is the repeated, unreasonable behaviour directed towards a staff member or a group of staff members, that creates a risk to health and safety.

Harassment is a form of unlawful discrimination. It is behaviour that the other staff member does not want, and offends, embarrasses, intimidates, threatens, humiliates or insults the other staff member, and based on the available information, a reasonable person would consider it to be offensive, embarrassing, intimidating, threatening, humiliating or insulting. Harassment may include physical threats and sexual harassment, which may lead to criminal charges.

Discrimination can be characterised as either direct or indirect. Direct discrimination is when a staff member is treated less favourably compared with another staff member in the same or similar circumstances due to their attributes or characteristics. Indirect discrimination is when a requirement (or rule) that is the same for all staff members has an unfair effect or result on  a particular staff member or a group of staff members.

Staff members should not be bullied, harassed or discriminated against on the grounds of sex, pregnancy, marital status, carer’s responsibilities, race, religion, disability or illness, age, sexual preference (actual or presumed), transgender status (actual or presumed), political opinion/affiliation, union involvement/non-­involvement and irrelevant criminal record.

What Bullying, Harassment or Discrimination, is Not

It is not bullying, harassment or discrimination to:

  • Express a difference of opinion or provide constructive feedback in a courteous manner.
  • Carry out legitimate management decisions, such as transfer, reallocation of work, recruitment decisions or termination of a staff member.
  • Give legitimate instructions and expect them to be carried out.
  • Set realistic standards of performance, and discuss and guide work performance improvements.
  • Counsel regarding work performance.

Raising a Grievance

A grievance is a clear statement, oral or written, by a staff member of a work related problem, concern or complaint, including those involving bullying, harassment, communication problems, interpersonal conflicts and discriminatory behaviour.

In the first instance the grievance should be managed by the Chief of Staff. If the grievance concerns the Chief of Staff or it cannot be resolved at the local office level it needs to be raised, in the case of Government Office Holder staff, with the Premier’s office, and in the case of other Office Holder staff with CMS.

If a grievance relates to alleged corrupt conduct, possible maladministration or serious or substantial waste of public money, the provisions of the Public Interest Disclosures Act 1994 may apply.


Victimisation is a serious matter. It is the responsibility of the member of staff handling the grievance to monitor the situation to ensure that the complainant does not suffer any repercussions. The appropriate member of staff must also ensure that the respondent is not victimised or disadvantaged.

If the matter concerns unlawful discrimination, the complainant needs to be informed of their right to make a complaint to the Anti-­Discrimination Board or the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. More information is available at:  and


The principles of Multiculturalism enshrined in the Community Relations Commission and Principles of Multiculturalism Act 2000 are:

  • All individuals in NSW should have the greatest possible opportunity to contribute to and participate in, all aspects of public life in which they may legally participate.
  • All individuals and institutions should respect and make provision for the culture, language and religion of others within an Australian legal and institutional framework where English is the common language.
  • All individuals should have the greatest possible opportunity to make use of and participate in relevant activities and programs provided or administered by the Government of NSW.
  • All institutions of NSW should recognise the linguistic and cultural assets in the population of NSW as a valuable resource and promote this resource to maximise the development of the State.
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