SAET Members Appropriate Workplace Conduct Policy

03 November 2022

On 19 August 2022, the Heads of Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, District Court, Magistrates Court, Coroners Court and Youth Court published the Appropriate Workplace Conduct Policy. After a period of consultation, as the President of the South Australian Employment Tribunal (SAET) I have decided to adopt and mirror that policy for SAET’s Presidential members and Commissioners, collectively referred to as SAET members.

The SAET’s policy is as such set out below:


SAET seeks to foster a safe and supportive workplace for all and does not tolerate inappropriate workplace conduct by SAET members. SAET members must not engage in inappropriate workplace conduct.

Inappropriate conduct may occur in any workplace but is more likely to occur, and is more likely to have significant consequences, in workplaces where there are substantial power differences.

As judicial officers, Presidential members are also subject to the jurisdiction of the Judicial Conduct Commissioner.

This policy is to be read and understood in light of the Attorney-General’s Department (AGD) Professional and Ethical Conduct Policy which states:      

AGD is committed to a professional, respectful and courteous work culture free of unlawful discrimination, bullying, harassment, victimisation and sexual harassment.

Employees will role model professional conduct that supports a respectful and ethical work culture. Managers will take a lead role in modelling and being ‘champions’ of professional and ethical behaviour to foster this culture.

All SAET members are committed to upholding and adhering to the standards of conduct as set forth in the AGD policies and in this document.

SAET members will report the failures of others whose conduct in the workplace is on their observation inappropriate, in accordance with procedures promulgated in connection with this policy.

What is inappropriate workplace conduct?

Inappropriate workplace conduct may amount to unlawful conduct and includes:

  • Bullying – repeated, unreasonable behaviour towards a person.  It includes abusive, insulting or offensive language or comments; aggressive or intimidating conduct; belittling or humiliating comments; unjustified criticisms or complaints; intentionally setting unreasonable timelines; and ignoring or excluding a person from work-related activities.
  • Discrimination – treating a person unfairly because of a particular characteristic or because they belong to a certain group.
  • Harassment – conduct that is unwelcome, and that, in the circumstances, a reasonable person would anticipate would humiliate, offend or intimidate.  While harassment generally involves a pattern of behaviour, it may include a one-off event.  It may include sexual, racial or general workplace harassment which has the potential to create an intimidating, hostile, offensive or distressing work environment.  It includes making offensive or insulting jokes, taunts or comments relating to a person’s gender, sexual orientation, race, culture, religion, disability, physical features or age.
  • Sexual harassment – unwelcome sexual advance or any other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature in relation to another person in circumstances in which a reasonable person would have anticipated the possibility that the other person would be offended, humiliated or intimidated.  Sexual harassment may include unwelcome physical contact of a sexual nature; comments, jokes or questions of a sexual nature (including where made in the presence of a person but directed at another person); sexually suggestive behaviour such as leering or staring or offensive gestures; touching, hugging or brushing up against a person; or sending or displaying sexually explicit images.
  • Victimisation – treating or threatening to treat a person unfavourably because they have made, or it is anticipated they may make or assist someone to make, a complaint of bullying, discrimination or harassment (including sexual harassment), or associated with allegations of inappropriate workplace conduct.

Inappropriate workplace conduct includes conduct directed towards other SAET members, SAET staff, other AGD employees at SAET, representatives, litigants, witnesses or other court users.

It includes conduct that occurs outside the workplace but while undertaking work activities or at work related events, such as a work sanctioned social event or during travel for the purpose of work.  It also extends to conduct that occurs anywhere outside the workplace which rests upon a power imbalance within the workplace.

Consensual workplace relationships

SAET members recognise the significance of any power imbalance in a personal relationship in the workplace, including by reason of seniority in position or age.  Consequently, SAET members also recognise that sexual relationships (whether casual or ongoing) between a SAET member and another SAET member, a SAET staff member or another AGD employee at SAET may by reason of this power imbalance, be inappropriate.

In the event of a sexual relationship between a SAET member and another SAET member, a SAET staff member or another AGD employee at SAET, that sexual relationship must be disclosed by the SAET member to the President, or if involving the President, to the next most senior Presidential member, so as to ensure that any workplace issues arising out of that relationship may be appropriately managed and that any workplace arrangements that may be considered appropriate may be put in place.

The Honourable Justice Steven Dolphin
South Australian Employment Tribunal