Australian University Staff Told To Keep Silent About Harassment CaseBy Emily Marks, UniversityHerald Reporter
Australian school Deakin University has been accused of perpetuating a "culture of silence" over its former employee's harassment case. Apparently, the gag order was a result of a settlement between the institution and the employee.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported that a whistleblower, Dr. Melanie Thomson, has spoken out against Deakin University and how it handled a harassment case for its former employee. Apparently, the school imposed a gag order on its staff to stop them from talking about complaints on a scientist. The scientist has since transferred to another university with a more senior position.
Dr. Thomson is a former lecturer in the school of medicine at the institution. She admitted that the scientist revealed to her that, at his previous workplace, he also had similar complaints about his actions.
At one point, a female colleague had to resort to placing a line of tape on the floor around her desk and told the scientist to stay behind it. This came even after the employee complained about the scientist's inappropriate behavior.
According to Thomson, the gag order imposed by Deakin University forced her into a "morally bankrupt" position. "It put me in an awkward position of basically having to lie, or omit the truth," she said.
She has decided to go public about the issue since she is concerned about the "mental health of all the staff" at the scientist's new workplace. She also describes this type of gag order as "unethical" because it prevents future employers from being warned about inappropriate behavior of potential employees.
The order was part of an agreement reached by Deakin University and the employee last year. The scientist was asked to leave after complaints about bullying and harassment were investigated.
There have been a lot of reports on sexual misconduct and assault in the campus. It is important to give these victims a voice.
Be an active bystander and get involved when you hear or see something problematic happening. Moreover, you would also need to proactively prevent these things from happening in the first place through sending messages of violence prevention.