- Completed the Workplace Equality and Respect (WER) project including supporting White Ribbon reaccreditation across all 24 South Australian Government agencies.
- Undertook two significant reviews of harassment in South Australian workplaces - one in the Parliamentary workplace; the other in the legal profession.
- Continued to provide high quality and timely services through enquiry, complaint and conciliation work, education and community engagement.
The OCEO maintained its core service delivery to the community throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. It shifted to a remote working model and embraced technology to ensure its functions were delivered.
|Key objective||Office’s contribution|
|Lower costs||· Used resources efficiently and effectively.|
|· Streamlined services.|
|Better services||· Undertook reviews of workplaces to raise awareness of harassment and discrimination and make recommendations to ensure safety and inclusion.|
|· Provided timely information, advice and conciliation services to the community on equal opportunity matters.|
|· Used partnerships to inform individuals and businesses about their legal obligations and rights.|
Implementation of the Workplace Equality and Respect Program including supporting White Ribbon reaccreditation of agencies
Government agencies contributed $750,000 over three years to the Office of the Commissioner for Equal Opportunity (OCEO) to implement the Workplace Equality and Respect (WER) Project.
Commencing in January 2018, the WER Project aimed to strengthen gender equality and promote safe and respectful workplace cultures across the SA public sector.
Each of the 24 State Government agencies participating in the WER Project implemented an agency-specific Gender Equality and Respect Action Plan that aligned with best practice Workplace Equality and Respect Standards developed by Our Watch (national leader in the primary prevention of violence against women and children).
All agencies participating in the WER Project sought reaccreditation as White Ribbon workplaces. Each was successfully reaccredited. The OCEO coordinated the whole-of-government process for the reaccreditation.
Completion of the Review of Harassment in the South Australian Parliament Workplace
The Review of Harassment in the South Australian Parliament Workplace was established following a motion passed in both Houses of Parliament on 12 November 2020 and received partial funding from Parliament.
The review report was provided to the Houses of Parliament on 26 February 2021 by Ms Emily Strickland, then-Acting Commissioner, and tabled on 2 March 2021.
It made 16 recommendations aimed at supporting the development of a safe and inclusive workplace.
The OCEO is providing advice and support to the parties responsible for the recommendations as required.
Completion of the Review of Harassment in the South Australian Legal Profession
The Review of Harassment in the South Australian Legal Profession arose from a motion passed in the Legislative Council on 14 October 2020 calling for the Attorney-General, on behalf of the Parliament, to appoint the Commissioner for Equal Opportunity to conduct it.
The review report was provided to the Attorney-General on 9 April 2021 by Ms Steph Halliday, then-Acting Commissioner, and tabled in Parliament on 20 April 2021.
It made 16 recommendations aimed at supporting the development of safe and inclusive workplaces in the legal profession.
Education on equal opportunity through partnership with industry
The OCEO operated a Training Referral Program (TRP) to ensure that individuals and organisations can receive education on equal opportunity matters. The TRP includes a panel of training providers approved by the OCEO to deliver high-quality training to the community. The OCEO undertook a small number of its own training sessions during the year.
A total of 39 training and education sessions were delivered in the 2020-21 financial year, against a target of 60.
Fairly administered laws
Complaint assessment and conciliation
The OCEO received 230 complaints during the 2020-21 financial year, against a projection of 215.
All complaints were assessed to determine what action can be taken by the OCEO. A part-time assessment officer commenced during the financial year to ensure a thorough assessment of complaints. 111 complaints were accepted, against a projection of 150.
This new model reduced the number of complaints requiring work by conciliation officers, allowing for reductions in complaint handling time. On average, accepted complaints were completed within 2.4 months, ensuring a timely outcome for complainants and respondents.
In addition, 67% of accepted complaints were successfully conciliated.
An efficient and effective justice system
Partnering with the University of Adelaide to provide legal advice and research
During the 2020-21 financial year the OCEO continued its partnerships with the University of Adelaide.
The Legal Advice Service provides legal advice and assistance on discrimination, harassment and victimisation, and support preparing for conciliation conferences and tribunal hearings. Final year law students provided advice, supervised by a legal practitioner. The service assisted 89 individuals.
As part of the University of Adelaide’s Law and Justice Internship Program the Internship Program provided for an exceptional penultimate year law student to undertake research on a topic relating to the work of the OCEO during a 22-25-day internship. Three interns were hosted during the year, providing research on:
The PhD Program placed PhD candidates at the OCEO for one day a week to undertake research into a key workplace and cultural equity issue affecting South Australians. During the year, two PhD students continued their research into:
The PhD program concluded at the end of 2020-21.
Our people meet customer needs
Providing information and advice to individuals and organisations
The OCEO provided advice and information to the community through telephone and email services. During the 2020-21 financial year, the OCEO received 659 enquiries to these services, against a projection of 600.
Business continuity during COVID-19 pandemic
In 2020-21 the OCEO continued to provide services to the community. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic it maintained its service delivery, utilising technology to assist the public remotely. Conciliation conferences were moved to a virtual environment, ensuring minimal disruptions to dealing with and resolving complaints.
Community engagement using the OCEO’s website
The OCEO operates a website providing the public with information, resources and online forms for complaints and enquiries.
It had 170 972 visitor sessions throughout the 2020-21 financial year, against a target of 150 000. *
A new website (www.equalopportunity.sa.gov.au) was developed during the 2020-21 financial year with accessibility, mobile responsiveness and community engagement as a focus. It launched on 1 July 2021.
* System errors resulted in underreporting of daily visitor sessions between 29 September 2020 and 18 November 2020. The daily average was substituted for these dates.
The OCEO is a business unit of AGD. Information on corporate performance appears in the 2020-21 Annual Report for the Attorney-General’s Department.
Information on employment opportunity programs appears in the 2020-21 Annual Report for the Attorney-General’s Department.
Information on performance management systems appears in the 2020-21 Annual Report for the Attorney-General’s Department.
Information on the work health, safety, and return to work programs appears in the 2020-21 Annual Report for the Attorney-General’s Department.
Nil - the Commissioner is a statutory appointment.