Canberra Institute of Technology

Education and training of staff on human rights principles

The Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT) is committed to a workplace that promotes and protects human rights principles. It does this through a range of mechanisms, ensuring staff have access to key information and training; through its policy frameworks; and supporting and guiding staff on Respect, Equity and Diversity (RED) through its trained RED officers, and current involvement in the Beyond RED framework development. CIT provides annual refresher training which covers work health and safety and “Working Together at CIT”, which focuses on respect at work and in the classroom. All staff are encouraged to complete the ACTGOV Learn online modules which cover Inclusion, Disability Awareness, LGBTIQ+ Inclusion and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Awareness.

CIT delivers ongoing MATE Bystander training for staff and students.  MATE Bystander training is a leadership focused primary prevention program that aims to engage participants in discussion about abusive behaviour and how we create a culture that nurtures gender inequality. CIT has facilitated four MATE Bystander sessions this year across all levels of employees. We are currently exploring opportunities to implement a Train the Trainer model with the MATE Bystander training to enable 30 of our staff to be trainers in the program.

Reviews undertaken of internal policies and procedures for compatibility with human rights

CIT policies are continuously reviewed and reference to the Human Rights Act 2004 is included in their content where appropriate. All CIT policies are publicly available as Open Access Information via the CIT Website.

Any guidelines or checklists developed to incorporate consideration of public authority obligations under s 40B of the Human Rights Act in decision making.

CIT understands its obligations as a public authority and ensures that human rights are taken into consideration in decision making. Relevant CIT policies reference the Human Rights Act 2004 to provide guidance in their correct application and decision making.

Any dissemination of information about agency obligations under the Human Rights Act to clients

CIT has several accessible documents, policies and procedures that we refer staff and students to regarding their obligations and rights from employment to enrolment respectively.  These include CIT Student Code of Conduct which articulates behaviours, rights and obligations that underpin the Discrimination Act 1991 and the Human Rights Act 2004.

CIT, as part of its Open Access Information Strategy, promotes dissemination of information about agency obligations, including the Human Rights Act 2004.

CIT is exploring a Memorandum of Understanding with Women’s Legal Service to provide students with access to free legal information, advice, support on employment rights and family violence.

As with our response to staff training, CIT delivered MATE Bystander training to students including information on human rights and protected characteristics under the Human Rights Act 2004.  CIT’s strategy to increase our delivery options for this program will enable CIT to provide access to a broader client group.

CIT also works alongside the student facing organisation, CIT Student Association (CITSA), which acts to further disseminate the information regarding CIT’s obligations under the Human Rights Act 2004 to clients. CITSA acts as an intermediatory directing students to accessible documents, policies and procedures regarding their obligations and rights from employment to enrolment.

Human Rights Act considerations included in the complaints handling framework

Human rights obligations are considered by CIT for both the complainant and respondent when conducting complaint investigations and forms part of our policy approach and decision making when handling complaints for both students and staff.

Examples of this approach include the CIT Complaints Students and Community Members Policy which refers to the Human Rights Act 2004 as relevant legislation for its application.  The related procedure also includes potential escalation to the ACT Human Rights Commission.  CIT’s Complaints Students and Community Members policy and procedure include the right to natural justice and a fair process for dealing with a complainant’s concerns, and the right to equality, which requires that the complaints process be accessible to all complainants.

Section 9 of the Public Sector Management Act 1994 sets out the conduct required of an ACT public servant, including behaviour relevant to obligations related to human rights.  CIT’s Enterprise Agreements provide a complaint framework, coherent with procedural fairness and natural justice principles, that considers allegations of misconduct made against CIT staff members.

Inclusion of Human Rights Act obligations in contracts and tenders

All staff at CIT involved in the procurement of goods and services must follow the purchasing principles and guidelines as stated in the Government Procurement Act 2001 and Government Procurement Regulation 2007.  CIT use the ACT Government standardised contract and tender templates which do not explicitly contain any reference to the Human Rights Act 2004, however it is a requirement of all Respondents to abide by all relevant legislation in connection with any engagement that they might have with CIT, including meeting their obligations and compliance with the Act. Where additional obligations may be required CIT would seek advice from the ACT Government Solicitor’s Office and Procurement ACT.

Internal dissemination of information to staff on the legislative scrutiny process

CIT staff have access to whole of government messages in relation to human rights.

Liaison with the Human Rights Advisors on human rights principles or the legislative scrutiny process

CIT has not been required to liaise with any of the human rights advisors during the reporting period for human rights issues or any compatibility statements with cabinet documents or legislation.

Two cabinet submissions have been prepared during the reporting period with no specific human rights considerations identified in either submission.

Reviews or preparations for reviews of existing legislation for compatibility with the Human Rights Act

No issues were raised at CIT in the reporting period.  CIT ensures all policies are reviewed in keeping with the requirements of the Human Rights Act 2004. CIT did not administer any legislation that required compatibility with human rights during the reporting period.  As a result of the review of the Unsatisfactory Student Behaviour Policy which considered the application of the policy, specifically relating to the right to education and discrimination aspects, the Canberra Institute of Technology Act 1987 is currently being reviewed for alignment with the revised policy.

Litigation

The following case has been referred to ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT):

  • Complaint made against CIT – Discrimination (HRC Reference - CT20100051).
  • Outcome – matter referred to ACAT and currently being conciliated (ACAT reference DT 14/2021)