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

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

Latest News

  • Hotels

Minor Hotels announces a new luxury Anantara on Bali’s Seseh Beach

Minor Hotels has signed an agreement to manage a new-build Anantara resort and branded residences on Seseh Beach in Bali, opening in 2027. The news Anantara Dragon Seseh Bali Resort will be the first luxury beachfront resort on Seseh Beach and the third Anantara Hotels & Resorts property in Bali. The Anantara Dragon Seseh Bali […]

  • Aviation

Solomon Airlines fills Air Vanuatu gap with flights from Port Vila to Auckland

Solomon Islands’ national carrier will commence direct flights between Port Vila and Auckland from 27 May, using Solomon Airlines aircraft to continue air services linking Vanuatu and New Zealand. Solomon Islands officials together with the Vanuatu Government has worked closely with relevant New Zealand authorities to continue interim flights servicing Auckland from Port Vila. This included […]

  • Aviation

Board Air Canada in Sydney’s CBD via a sleek Light Rail

Visitors flocking to Vivid Sydney will glide through the CBD in the newest addition to the Air Canada fleet – a sleek Light Rail tram wrapped in the airline’s unique livery. The Air Canada-themed tram is part of a new marketing campaign designed to put Air Canada in lights during the Vivid Sydney festival (25 […]

  • Cruise
  • News

Carnival Splendor to the rescue of Aussies and Kiwis left stranded in Vanuatu

Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Splendor has come to the aid of a group left stranded in Vanuatu, following the collapse of Air Vanuatu. The group, eight Australians and one New Zealander, were visiting the island of Santo when Air Vanuatu cancelled all flights, leaving them without a way home. Carnival Cruise Line responded by offering […]

  • Hotels

QT Singapore set to open in heritage Eastern Extension Telegraph building

Bookings open today for QT Singapore, in the historic former Eastern Extension Telegraph building along Robinson Road, the first property from QT Hotels & Resorts to open outside Australian and New Zealand. Previously Accor’s So Singapore, then the Hotel Telegraph, QT Singapore will officially launch on September 16 and will feature 134 rooms, ranging in […]

  • Hotels
  • News

Minor Hotels’ Anantara group reimagines the brand as its portfolio surpasses 50 properties

Anantara Hotels & Resorts is marking a significant milestone with a reimagined brand identity as recent openings across Europe, Middle East and Asia have propelled the brand portfolio beyond 50 properties. Part of the Minor Hotels group, the Anantara visual refresh takes an elegant, pared-back approach that enables each hotel’s unique character to shine – […]