Workplace harassment and bullying procedure

Who should use this procedure: 
All ABA Employees, Volunteers and Contractors
When this procedure should be used: 
When reporting or investigating workplace harassment and bullying.

To provide direction to those who are reporting or investigating workplace harassment and bullying

Word or phraseDefinition
EEOEqual Employment Opportunity
EmployeesA person employed for salary or wages
ManagersAll positions with “Manager” in their designation and includes Branch Presidents. Includes paid and unpaid managers
OthersIncludes clients and visitors to ABA premises, group meetings, conferences, seminars and students enrolled in ABA courses
Responsible OfficerChief Executive Officer
VolunteersA person who freely offers to take part in an enterprise or undertake a task for or on behalf of the Association. This includes the directors on the board of the Australian Breastfeeding Association
WorkplaceAnywhere where ABA business is conducted including group meetings, conferences and seminars, online and where people are working together using technology


Please refer to ABA’s Bullying and Harassment policy


  • ABA is committed to providing all employees, contractors, trainees and volunteers with a work environment that is free from bullying, discrimination or harassment. Conduct that constitutes bullying, discrimination or harassment is a violation of policy and is not permitted at any time.
  • Any member of ABA who is subjected to discrimination or harassment may raise an internal complaint to attempt to redress the situation.

Stage 1: Direct dealing

  • Before bringing forward a complaint, the complainant is encouraged to discuss the complaint with the respondent to attempt to resolve it. If the complainant does not feel comfortable or safe discussing the matter directly with the respondent, the complainant is encouraged to discuss the matter promptly with any of the following Association resources:
    • An immediate supervisor.
    • Another official who the complainant believes to be an appropriate adviser given the nature of the situation. This may include a supervisor or senior manager for paid staff. For volunteer staff it may include a group leader, regional representative or branch president.
  • If any discussions between the complainant and the respondent or between the complainant and any other official do not lead to a resolution that is satisfactory to the complainant, or if such discussions do not take place, the complainant can proceed to a formal complaint.

Stage 2: Formal stage

  • Formal complaints can be lodge in writing or by using the ABA online complaints and appeals form (complainant) or Complaints and Appeals Resolution Form (immediate supervisor or official). Both are located on the MyABA website.
  • If your complaint is against:
    • A volunteer, staff member or Manager, please lodge your complaint with a Senior Manager, Branch President or the CEO
    • The CEO please lodge your complaint with the President
    • The President please lodge your complaint with the Vice President or other board member
    • A board member please lodge your complaint with the President.
  • All reports will be taken seriously and thoroughly investigated.
  • All reports will be treated in the strictest confidence. All parties must maintain strict confidentiality throughout the process and afterwards.
  • The person who reported the incident will not be victimised. Disciplinary action will be taken in the event of a false, frivolous, vexatious or malicious complaint.
  • Full details of how to make a complaint and the steps in the process that will be followed are set out in ABA’s Complaints and Appeals Policy and are summarised in this flow chart.
Workplace harassment and bullying flow chart 2018

Possible outcomes

  • The possible outcomes will depend on the nature of the complaint. Where an investigation has found that a complaint is substantiated, appropriate action will be taken against the person about whom the complaint was made.
  • For employees against whom a bullying and harassment complaint is found to be substantiated, performance management will occur in line with the procedure outlined by the Fair Work Ombudsman. Details of this procedure can be found at:
  • For volunteers against whom a bullying and harassment complaint is found to be substantiated, disciplinary action up to and including removal from their volunteer role or revocation of the right to be a member of ABA may be taken.
  • Serious situations may be referred to the appropriate external authorities.
  • Removal of an ABA volunteer from their volunteer role or revocation of membership are not decisions that will be made lightly. The process leading up to this would include:
    • On the first instance of a bullying complaint made against a volunteer that is found to be substantiated, the CEO gives the volunteer a formal warning
    • If the bullying behaviour continues or a subsequent substantiated complaint is made, a second formal warning is given by the CEO in conjunction with the Appeals Committee
    • If the bullying behaviour continues, or a subsequent substantiated complaint follows the second warning, a recommendation may be made to the ABA Board of Directors that the person is removed from their volunteer role within the Association and their ABA membership is revoked.
  • ABA seeks to ensure that any behaviour found to amount to bullying or harassment in breach of this Policy does not continue.
  • If an investigation reveals that any person has deliberately made a false or malicious complaint, that person may also be disciplined. Furthermore, disciplinary action may be taken if it is found that a person has victimised or penalised a person because that person has made, or intends to make, a complaint of bullying or any other breach under this Policy.

Date approved: 
Sep 2018
Approved by: 
Alison Boughey, CEO
Review by date: 
Sep 2020