This conference is dedicated to providing an inclusive and harassment-free conference experience and workplace for everyone, regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, age or religion.

All communication should be appropriate for a professional audience including people of many different backgrounds.

We do not tolerate harassment of conference participants in any form.

Participants violating these rules may be sanctioned or expelled from the conference without a refund at the sole discretion of the conference organisers.

What does this cover?

This policy covers all conference participants including registered attendees, conference organisers, staff, volunteers, any guests and exhibitors in the sponsor or vendor booths, and other organised activities managed by the conference including social events.

Harassment includes offensive communication related to gender, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, religion, sexual images in public spaces, deliberate intimidation, stalking, following, harassing photography or recording, sustained disruption of talks or other events, inappropriate physical contact, and unwelcome sexual attention.

Exhibitors should not use sexualized images, activities, or other material.

Booth staff (including volunteers) should not use sexualized clothing/uniforms/costumes, or otherwise create a sexualized environment.

All participants should consider the words they use.

Remember that sexist, racist, and other exclusionary jokes can be offensive to those around you.

Excessive swearing and offensive jokes are not appropriate for conferences or social activities.

What actions may be taken?

Participants asked to stop any harassing behavior are expected to comply immediately.

If a participant engages in behavior that violates this code of conduct, the conference organizers may take any action they deem appropriate, including warning the offender or expulsion from the conference with no refund.

How should I report?

If someone makes you or anyone else feel unsafe or unwelcome, please report it as soon as possible.

Conference staff are well informed on how to deal with the incident and how to further proceed with the situation. They can be found at the registration table or you can contact the conference chair, or event management company in person, by email or phone.

When taking a personal report, our staff will ensure you are safe and cannot be overheard. They may involve other event staff to ensure your report is managed properly. Once safe, we’ll ask you to tell us about what happened. This can be upsetting, but we’ll handle it as respectfully as possible, and you can bring someone to support you. You won’t be asked to confront anyone and we won’t tell anyone who you are.

Harassment and other code of conduct violations reduce the value of our event for everyone. We want you to be happy at our event. People like you make our event a better place.

What should I include in the report?

All reports are confidential.

When reporting the event try to gather as much information as you have available, but do not interview people about the incident – Staff will assist you in writing the report/collecting information.

The important information consists of:

  • Identifying information (name/badge number) of the participant doing the harassing
  • The behaviour that was in violation
  • The approximate time of the behaviour (if different than the time the report was made)
  • The circumstances surrounding the incident
  • Other people involved in the incident

Conference Staff Guidelines for Handling Harassment

Have a good understanding of our Code of Conduct policy found above including a good understanding of what is expected from an attendee that wants to report a harassment incident.

If everyone is presently physically safe, involve law enforcement or security only at a victim’s request. If you do feel your safety in jeopardy please do not hesitate to contact local law enforcement. If you do not have a cell phone, you can use any venue phone or simply ask a staff member.

Carry out the initial response in the manner detailed below. This initial response is very important and sets the tone for the conference.

Get details of the incident in written form from the person reporting the incident. If these are not provided then transcribe it as it is told to you.

The important information consists of:

  • Identifying information (name/badge number) of the participant doing the harassing
  • The behaviour that was in violation
  • The approximate time of the behaviour (if different than the time the report was made)
  • The circumstances surrounding the incident
  • Other people involved in the incident

Please follow these guidelines for the initial response:

  • If there is any general threat to attendees or the safety of anyone including conference staff is in doubt, summon security or police.
  • If everyone is presently physically safe, involve law enforcement or security only at a victim’s request.
  • Offer the victim a private place to sit
  • Ask “is there a friend or trusted person who you would like to be with you?” (if so, arrange for someone to fetch this person)
  • Ask them “how can I help?”
  • Provide them with your list of emergency contacts if they need help later

These are some guidelines on what should NOT be done during the initial response:

  • Do not overtly invite them to withdraw the complaint or mention that withdrawal is OK. This suggests that you want them to do so, and is therefore coercive. “If you’re OK with it [pursuing the complaint]” suggests that you are by default pursuing it and is not coercive.
  • Do not ask for their advice on how to deal with the complaint. This is a staff responsibility
  • Do not offer them input into penalties. This is the staff’s responsibility

Once something is reported,  immediately escalate to the conference chair and/or event coordinator.

The main objectives of this escalation meeting is to find out the following:

  • What happened?
  • Are we doing anything about it?
  • Who is doing those things?
  • When are they doing them?

After the escalation meeting and discussion, have a staff member (preferably the conference chair or event coordinator if available) communicate with the alleged harasser. Clearly inform them of what has been reported about them.

Allow the alleged harasser to give their side of the story to the staff. After this point, if report stands, let the alleged harasser know what actions will be taken against them.

Some options for the staff to consider when dealing with Code of Conduct offenders:

  • Warning the harasser to cease their behaviour and that any further reports will result in sanctions
  • Requiring that the harasser avoid any interaction with, and physical proximity to, their victim for the remainder of the event
  • Ending a talk that violates the policy early
  • Not publishing the video or slides of a talk that violated the policy
  • Not allowing a speaker who violated the policy to give (further) talks at the event now or in the future
  • Immediately ending any event volunteer responsibilities and privileges the harasser holds
  • Requiring that the harasser not volunteer for future events your organisation runs (either indefinitely or for a certain time period)
  • Requiring that the harasser refund any travel grants and similar they received (this would need to be a condition of the grant at the time of being awarded)
  • Requiring that the harasser immediately leave the event and not return
  • Banning the harasser from future events (either indefinitely or for a certain time period)
  • Removing a harasser from membership of relevant organisations
  • Publishing an account of the harassment and calling for the resignation of the harasser from their responsibilities (usually pursued by people without formal authority: may be called for if the harasser is the event leader, or refuses to stand aside from the conflict of interest, or similar, typically event staff have sufficient governing rights over their space that this isn’t as useful)
  • Give accused harasser a place to appeal to if there is one, but in the meantime the report stands. Keep in mind that it is not a good idea to encourage an apology from the harasser.

It is very important how we deal with the incident publicly. Our policy is to make sure that everyone aware of the initial incident is also made aware that it is not according to policy and that official action has been taken – while still respecting the privacy of individual attendees.

When speaking to individuals (those who are aware of the incident, but were not involved with the incident) about the incident it is a good idea to keep the details out.

Depending on the incident, the conference chair or their designate may decide to make one or more public announcements. If necessary, this will be done with a short announcement either during the plenary and/or through other channels. No one other than the conference chair or someone delegated authority from the conference chair should make any announcements.

If some attendees were angered by the incident, it is best to apologise to them that the incident occurred to begin with. If there are residual hard feelings, suggest to them to write an email to the conference chair or to the event coordinator. It will be dealt with accordingly.

ABOUT AeRO

AeRO is the industry association focused on eResearch in Australasia. We play a critical coordination role for our members, who are actively transforming research via Information Technology. Organisations join AeRO to advance their own capabilities and services, to collaborate and to network with peers. AeRO believes researchers and the sector significantly benefit from greater communication, coordination and sharing among the increasingly different and evolving service providers.

Conference Managers

Please contact the team at Conference Design with any questions regarding the conference.
© 2017 Conference Design Pty Ltd