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Module 2: Commencement and Collaboration – Putting Ideas Into Practice

5.1 Identification of legislative and policy requirements

One of the key resources for any project  is human resources. This includes both those people who are members of your research team – those employed already by the university or the stakeholder organisation – as well as any students that will be working on the project. It also includes any additional staff that might be employed to work specifically on the project: research assistants, post-docs, those with specific technical skill, project managers, and so on. If there is only you and one student, there is still the need for you to be clear about what the university’s requirements of you as a leader are.

At the commencement of your project, in the early stages of planning for recruitment, it is important for you to make yourself familiar with the legislative and policy requirements surrounding the recruitment and employment of staff. Your recruitment planning must conform to any relevant legislative restrictions, as well as complying with university policy requirements.

Some examples of legislation relevant to recruitment and employment include:

  • Equity and diversity
    Universities accept that, as employers, they have a responsibility to eliminate any source of direct or indirect discrimination on the basis of any factors not related to work. Universities have a continuing obligation under legislation to develop and implement affirmative action initiatives. Assumptions made about an applicant's suitability, which are based on stereotyped views, may involve unfair discrimination and may be unlawful. Legislation to be mindful of in selecting people for appointment include:
    • The Racial Discrimination Act 1975
    • The Racial Hatred Act 1995
    • The Sex Discrimination Act 1984
    • The Discrimination Act 1991
    • The Disability Discrimination Act 1992
    • Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act 1999.
  • Freedom of Information and Confidentiality
    The university is subject to legislation that may give persons the right to obtain access to documents, including referee reports, held by the university.
    • Freedom of Information Act 1991
  • OHS (Occupational Health and Safety)
    In most universities it is the responsibility of a supervisor to ensure a safe and healthy workplace, that documented safe work procedures are provided, and are understood and observed by the staff they supervise, and that any incidents, exposures, hazards, or OHS concerns within their jurisdiction are reported. The following Commonwealth Acts pertain to OHS.
    • Commonwealth Occupational Health and Safety Act 1991
    • Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988
    • Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Act and Regulations
    • Nuclear Non-proliferation (Safeguards) Act 1987
    • Gene Technology Act and Regulations
    • Quarantine Act 1908.

Universities have policies in place to ensure that they comply with legislation, and provide equitable, safe working conditions for their staff. Some examples of such policies include:

  • Education and research
  • Occupational health, safety, and welfare
  • Equity and diversity
  • Equal opportunity
  • Sexual, racial, and disability harassment
  • Copyright
  • Freedom of information
  • Intellectual property
  • Smoking on campus
  • Staffing issues
  • Environment policy
  • Student-related policies & procedures.

University employment terms, conditions, and salaries are identified for individuals in the ‘letter of offer of employment’ and the university's Enterprise Agreement.


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