Aviation

Racism, sexism and homophobia: New report slams staff culture at Airservices Australia

A damning independent report has exposed a culture of bullying and harassment among Australia’s air traffic controllers.

Airservices Australia commissioned former Australian Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick to examine its employee culture after Civil Air released a report prepared by former Federal Court Judge Anthony North last July.

North’s report detailed serious concerns that the organisation’s culture was so plagued by bullying and sexual harassment that it posed a possible threat to the safety of air travellers.

Broderick’s report, which was based on extensive consultation with Airservices staff over the past nine months, called for urgent attention and reform in regards to the level of bullying and sexual harassment reported.

“The review team also found distinct areas of the culture that require immediate action and reform. The levels of bullying, in particular, as well as sexual harassment, are unacceptable. They need to be addressed as a matter of urgency,” the report concluded.

“Similarly urgent action is required to address the very low levels of reporting, particularly in relation to sexual harassment. It is clear there are work environments where people do not feel safe to speak up or to call out non-inclusive behaviour.”

According to the report, such low levels of reporting “speak to a culture that is not psychologically safe”.

It also brought to light employee testimony describing Airservices as a “boys’ club”, a “male-dominated culture”, a “culture underpinned by fear… where bullying is normalised” and as beset by “overwhelming toxic masculinity”.

The report noted that “employees told the review team of their ‘cynicism’ about management decisions and their ‘distrust’ and ‘fear’ of managers, including those in senior roles” and in relation to air traffic controllers, that “only one in three air navigation services employees feel that their work role is valued by the organisation, a rate lower than other areas within Airservices.”

In response to the findings, the report outlines 19 detailed recommendations focusing on leadership, human-centred responses to bullying and harassment, promoting dignity and creating a psychologically safe place to work.

“Airservices will implement the report’s recommendations in full to ensure that we offer a safe, diverse and inclusive workplace for all of our employees”, CEO Jason Harfield said.

“The report contains deeply disappointing reports of bullying, harassment and workplace exclusion that are completely unacceptable to me and the senior leadership team at Airservices. This behaviour has no place in any workplace and must stop.

“Airservices has zero-tolerance for all forms of workplace bullying and harassment. Our staff are required to strictly comply with the organisation’s code of conduct, which explicitly prohibits all forms of bullying and harassment.

“Breaches of the code of conduct result in disciplinary action, including dismissal. I encourage anyone who experiences conduct of this nature to report it immediately.”

However, Civil Air’s executive secretary Peter McGuane believes the report is not enough.

“Civil Air welcomes any steps to fixing the broken culture at Airservices. We agree with Ms Broderick that urgent action is necessary,” he said.

“But these changes do not go far enough. Members feel let down.

“The current management team has committed time and time again to resolve the issues and there is a real risk that the new ‘action plan’ to address the recommendations may be little more than another hollow commitment to change.

“To effectively address the broken culture, senior management must be held to account. It is essential that the composition of senior management change.

“New approaches require new management. Otherwise, there is a real risk that Airservices will continue to be weighed down by the baggage of the past.”


Featured image credit: iStock/eejay62



SEE WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

Leave a Reply

Cruise

Cunard reports biggest booking day in a decade

The rumours are that many Cunard employees went home that day with a big sack with a dollar sign on it after a massive day on the job.

Share

CommentComments

News

Travel just got easier: No more pre-departure tests for New Caledonia, Tahiti, Indonesia

What would make travel really easy for us is if a nice company out there would like to send a Travel Weekly reporter on a nice trip overseas (wink, wink, nudge, nudge @anyone please).

Share

CommentComments

Cruise

Dream Cruises ship resurrected for new cruise brand

Don’t just sit around dreaming of cruises, hop on this revived Dream Cruises ship for your first getaway in two years.

Share

CommentComments

Events

Collette wraps up its first travel forum in two years

The tour operator hosted top sellers, partners, key travel players and media friends (that’s us!) for poolside shenanigans in sunny Cairns.

Share

CommentComments

Wholesalers

“Travel is the great educator”: Collette CEO Dan Sullivan on why we need travel now more than ever

We spent the past few days sipping mojitos by the pool in Cairns… Oh, and attending Collette’s travel forum! Here’s proof we were listening.

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

“It’s our shout”: Flight Centre is giving away free holidays!

The travel giant is giving away 40 holidays to celebrate its 40th Birthday! Nobody tell them that it’s usually the other way around…

Share

CommentComments

Hotels

QT Newcastle signature restaurant and bar revealed!

It might seem like we’re calling Newcastle a ‘cutie’ but rest assured, our cutest NSW city award still goes to Griffith.

Share

CommentComments

Events

Australian Tourism Exchange 2022 concluded and next year’s location revealed!

The rumours are that next year’s event will have twice as many arancini balls and half the day will be dedicated to playing Mario Kart. Bear in mind our source for this was a 6 year old boy…

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

Japan gets closer to reopening its border with experimental group tours

Don’t worry, the fact that the tours are operating is what makes them experimental. You won’t have to remember your high school science skills for a trip to Japan (at least we don’t think so).

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

Do you want to explore South Australia? Complete a few training modules for your chance at a famil!

The team at South Australian Tourism Commission has your next holiday sorted with a famil offering for travel agents and product managers.

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

ATEC tickled pink with Labor Party tourism funding promise

As professional journalists, we at Travel Weekly remain completely unbiased when it comes to political matters. However, we’re just going to leave this here…

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

“The time is right”: industry legend, Barry Mayo, retires after 60+ years in travel

We think we speak for everyone when we say we can’t imagine an Australian travel industry without this industry stalwart!

Share

CommentComments