Making fair decisions

At Curtin we place great value on fairness to all. Fairness includes treating people the way you would like to be treated: honestly, and not exploited or discriminated against in any way.

Fairness can also involve treating people differently according to their circumstances and needs. Curtin has a range of programs and services which provide assistance to people to meet their specific needs.

What is discrimination?

Discrimination is action based on prejudice. It is discrimination if you are denied opportunities because of your:

I think I am being discriminated against. What can I do?

Discrimination is completely unacceptable and you have a right to take action if it happens to you.

Some people may not be aware they are discriminating. If you draw their attention to it, they may stop.

Otherwise, ask for assistance from the Manager, Student Equity and Diversity, or contact Student Wellbeing.

You can also report your concern to the Integrity and Standards Unit.


Treating people fairly means treating them all the same, right?

Wrong. It’s a common misunderstanding that treating people equitably (fairly) means treating them all the same. Many individuals and groups of people experience disadvantages that create barriers to their success. To give everyone a fair chance to achieve their full potential, we provide assistance to particular groups and individuals.

Fair behaviour is:

Unfair behaviour is:

What is harassment?

Harassment is any form of persistent and repeated unwanted or unwelcome behaviour. It may range from mildly unpleasant remarks to physical violence. It can include repeated unwelcome advances or requests, or comments that cause you worry or anxiety. It can make you feel embarrassed or intimidated, or cause you actual disadvantage or to feel that you will be disadvantaged if you don’t comply with the requests.

What if I am being harassed by my lecturer, tutor or supervisor to pay money, to provide gifts or sexual favours, or to exchange other favours for better marks?

As a student of Curtin there are no circumstances where you would be expected to make payment directly to a lecturer, tutor or supervisor.

Any such requests from a staff member are highly inappropriate and illegal. Should you be approached and asked to provide payment or gifts, or to provide sexual or other favours in exchange for more favourable treatment, you should immediately report this to the Integrity and Standards Unit.

Equally, you must never offer a staff member money, gifts or sexual favours in exchange for more favourable treatment, as this is also highly inappropriate and illegal.

What is sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment is repeated unwanted conduct of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment does not have to be direct or physical. It can include:

What is racial harassment?

Racial harassment occurs when someone is subjected to unwanted behaviour because of their ethnic or racial background. It includes:

What is disability harassment?

Disability harassment is the harassment of a person in relation to disability, or based upon a relative or associate having disability.

It includes:

Case Study

Disability discrimination

Rob has a vision impairment and claims that the course materials available on the website are not accessible to him because of their format. Rob asks his lecturer for the materials to be provided in an accessible format.


Curtin must meet Rob’s needs. The University is legally required to provide ‘reasonable adjustments’ to accommodate a student with disability. Counselling Services and Disability Services staff are available to support Rob. He can also meet with a Disability Advisor to develop a Curtin Access Plan.

Case Study

Race discrimination

Jenny and Matt make an appointment to see their course coordinator and ask to change tutorial groups, as they don’t like their tutor and they cannot understand her accent. They request an ‘Australian’ tutor.


Curtin values cultural diversity in its staff. All staff have met the selection criteria for their positions. Jenny and Matt must clarify why they don’t like their tutor. If the tutor’s accent is causing learning difficulties for students, the course coordinator may recommend to the tutor that she seeks help to improve her communication skills.

I am being harassed. What can I do?

If you feel comfortable doing so, tell the person to stop. State clearly and firmly that you want a particular behaviour to cease. This is not a time to be polite or vague. There is a chance that the harasser does not realise that a particular behaviour is offensive.

If you feel you cannot speak to the person concerned, talk to a staff member such as your Unit Coordinator, Head of School, Manager of Student Equity and Diversity, a University Counsellor or a Guild Student Assist Officer immediately.

You can also notify the Integrity and Standards Unit.

How do I know if my behaviour is causing offence?

Sometimes harassment isn’t intended. If you’re not sure about your behaviour you should:

When you make a notification of your concern, be clear about:

It may help to keep a record of any information you have received, including emails.

What not to do:


Remember to consider whether your behaviour might be offensive before you act, and if you are upset by others’ behaviour, let someone know.

Case Study

Sexual harassment

Li has been disturbed by requests from her thesis supervisor to go out together socially. She feels unable to express her concern to her supervisor about these requests because he is in a position of authority and is the only person in the faculty who is able to supervise her thesis. She is scared that if she turns down his request, he will stop supervising her.


It can be difficult to complain about behaviour, particularly when it appears there are no options. However, no student should be sexually harassed in this or any way. Li should report the matter immediately to the Integrity and Standards Unit. The University will ensure that the correct support is provided. Li may also contact Counselling Services to help her manage any distress she may be experiencing.

Case Study


Peng notices that some of the students in her unit get extra time to do an exam and that some are not present. Afterwards, she finds out that some students have sat the exam at a different time. Peng feels that this is unfair and that all students should have sat the exam together and under the same conditions.


We value fairness and have a legal requirement to provide for the special circumstances experienced by some students. Our Assessment and Student Progression Manual provides for special measures to be put in place for students who would be disadvantaged if they were required to sit exams under standard conditions. Further advice can be obtained from the Manager, Student Equity and Diversity, or a Disability Advisor.

What Is Bullying?

You are being bullied if you are repeatedly subjected to behaviour that is inappropriate. This might be verbal, physical or otherwise. It can include being called names or being excluded. Bullying is behaviour that is hurtful or humiliating, and that keeps happening.

It can put your health and safety at risk. If the bullying is serious, you should report it to the police.

Bullying can be either direct or indirect (overt or subtle). It can be done by an individual or by a group of people, including students or staff.

It is not bullying when somebody:

I Think I Am Being Bullied. What Can I Do?

Don’t blame yourself for what has happened. You may seek advice by speaking to a Guild Student Assist Officer or by contacting Student Wellbeing. Counselling Services are also available to assist.

If you feel comfortable doing so, approach the person who is bullying you and ask them to stop. This informal approach will sometimes be enough to resolve the issue.

If it does not work, or you do not feel comfortable approaching the person, report the behaviour to a staff member such as your Unit Coordinator, Head of School, a University Counsellor or a Guild Student Assist Officer immediately.

You can also notify the Integrity and Standards Unit.

What is cyber-bullying?

Any harassment or bullying that comes through information and communications technologies, including a mobile phone, Facebook, Twitter and other communications platforms is called cyberbullying. Cyberbullying can include:

Cyberbullying can occur at any time of the day or night and can target a person in a private or public location.

If it happens to you, report the incident to Student Wellbeing and seek assistance from a Guild Student Assist Officer or Counselling Services.

Bullying includes:

Case Study


Karen is an outgoing and outspoken teenager on various social issues. Many students, both male and female, are drawn to Karen as a friend because of her cheerful optimism. Other students in her course, however, feel threatened by Karen’s piety and commitment, and they falsely accuse her of being a fraud. They spread rumours on a Facebook page that Karen is sleeping with her tutor. Karen is alerted to the online rumours by a close friend and is highly distressed.


Karen or another person should report this cyberbullying to a Guild Student Assist Officer or through the Student Wellbeing Hotline. Karen may also seek help from Counselling Services. The University will address the issue with the other students involved and can provide advice on reporting the incident to Facebook. Curtin does not tolerate harassment.

Case Study


Bob is the lecturer in a final-year unit. He appears to take great pleasure in publicly abusing students he believes do not meet the standards he has set. This behaviour has been going on for some time, enough to cause several students to seek medical treatment for depression and anxiety.


This behaviour is completely unacceptable and needs to be addressed. You can seek advice by speaking to a Guild Student Assist Officer or by contacting Student Wellbeing. Counselling Services are also available to assist. You can also report your concern to the Integrity and Standards Unit.


Information in this publication is correct at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.

This material does not purport to constitute legal or professional advice.

Curtin accepts no responsibility for and makes no representations, whether express or implied, as to the accuracy or reliability in any respect of any material in this publication. Except to the extent mandated otherwise by legislation, Curtin University does not accept responsibility for the consequences of any reliance which may be placed on this material by any person.

Curtin will not be liable to you or to any other person for any loss or damage (including direct, consequential or economic loss or damage) however caused and whether by negligence or otherwise which may result directly or indirectly from the use of this publication.

Student academic or general misconduct is dealt with in accordance with the Curtin University Act 1966, Statute 10 – Student Discipline, the responsible officer for which is the Academic Registrar. Students are expected to inform themselves of and comply with all relevant laws; University statutes, rules and by-laws; and the University’s values and signature behaviours, policies and procedures.

Copyright information

© Curtin University 2016

Except as permitted by the Copyright Act 1968, this material may not be reproduced, stored or transmitted without the permission of the copyright owner. All enquiries must be directed to Curtin University.

Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology

CRICOS Provider Code 00301J

Alternative formats

This publication is available in alternative formats on request to Corporate Publications.