Review - final terms of reference

Purpose

The purpose is for the Auckland University of Technology (University) to engage an independent person (Kate Davenport QC) to conduct a review pursuant to these Terms of Reference into harassment (including without limitation sexual harassment) at the University as further defined below

Context

The Vice-Chancellor of the University, as the employer of staff at the University, has over the years introduced a suite of policies, procedures and protocols (Policies) for both staff and students to deal with harassment at the University.

Recent media reports and commentary have raised questions about the robustness of the University’s Policies and practices in terms of addressing and/or dealing with staff/student concerns regarding bullying and harassment.

Accordingly, the Vice-Chancellor has appointed Ms Davenport to conduct an independent review and, in order to assure the fullest independence, to report directly to the University’s Council on:

  1. a. The University’s current workplace bullying and harassment Policies and practices: including, without limitation, the University’s ‘Prevention of Bullying & Harassment Procedures’ and ‘Early Resolution Procedures’;
  2. b. Whether and to what extent staff/students feel able to raise complaints and speak up about harassment (including without limitation sexual harassment); and
  3. c. The nature of, and the way, incidents of harassment have been handled by the University.

Council has agreed to receive the report and recommendations of the review, and endorsed the need for a review.

The review is to assess whether matters concerning harassment are dealt with appropriately at the University and to examine what, if any, changes may be recommended to give effect to these Policies and to best meet the University’s obligations.

Scope of review

The reviewer is to:

  1. Assess the University’s current workplace Policies, practices, standards and systems relating to harassment against best practice models in New Zealand having regard to state sector standards and AUT’s good employer and other obligations (including to provide a safe, inclusive and equitable learning environment for students) under current relevant legislation.
  2. Identify whether the University’s existing workplace harassment Policies, procedures and practices:
    1. a. Are fit for purpose;
    2. b. Are applied fairly and consistently;
    3. c. Enable a ‘speak up’ culture amongst staff and students; and
    4. d. Meet the University’s good employer and other obligations.
  3. Review the University’s investigation and resolution mechanisms regarding harassment to assess whether they are appropriate and the way incidents of harassment and bullying have been handled by the University.
  4. Identify whether the support, information and mechanisms for complainants in harassment matters are accessible, properly understood and consistently and effectively applied across the University.
  5. For the avoidance of doubt, any new allegations of harassment that are raised after the review commences, will be dealt with by the University in the usual way using existing Policies and Procedures pending recommended changes in the review (if any).
  6. To give advice and make recommendations in relation to the above.
  7. Any other related matters that the reviewer considers appropriate.

Process of the review

  1. The reviewer may interview current (and former) University staff at all levels, students and any other relevant parties who wish to provide evidence and information.
  2. The privacy of the participants and complainants is of the utmost importance and the following steps will be undertaken to maintain privacy:
    1. a. An independent contact email and other mechanisms to contact the reviewer that preserve confidentiality will be established.
    2. b. The email and phone mailboxes will be accessible only by those undertaking the independent review.
    3. c. Interviews may be audio recorded and transcribed, but at the discretion of the reviewer, only electronic copies will be retained on a secure database under the sole control of the reviewer.
    4. d. Notes taken during the interviews will be private and confidential, so far as the law allows, and except as between the reviewer and the interviewee who will receive a copy of the notes of the interview.  The reviewer may use the information provided in the interview either anonymously or, with consent, using the name of the interviewee.
    5. e. The review will be conducted in a manner consistent with the principles of natural justice and information protection.
    6. f. Ms Davenport will conduct her review (and provide her report for Council) over the next three months, with public key findings and recommendations. In order to preserve privacy rights, some information may be kept confidential to the Council.
    7. g. The University will meet the costs of the review, including Ms Davenport’s costs (and the costs of her assistant and any other relevant professional support she may require) and any necessary disbursements including room hire (after first being approved by the Council).

Governance

  1. The Council will receive the report of the review and in the interim has delegated a subcommittee to deal with any matters concerning the progress of the review that might require decision by the University.
  2. Any decisions about outcomes following the review will be for the Council and/or the Vice-Chancellor (as appropriate).

Dated: 2 July 2020

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