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Harassment and discrimination contact officers (HDCOs)

HDCOs are staff who are trained to assist staff and students with any enquiries about discrimination, sexual harassment or bullying.

There is a network of over 75 HDCOs across the University, on every campus and in most work areas.

Why are HDCOs important?

Harassment and Discrimination Contact Officers are vital for the University because they:

  • provide a service to staff, students, colleagues and the University
  • contribute to a safe, healthy and harmonious workplace
  • maintain close contact with staff and students and are aware of local issues
  • can distribute information on best equal employment opportunity (EEO) practice within their immediate work area.

HDCO attributes

Prior to being appointed to the role, HDCOs must show that they have:

  • a commitment to equal employment opportunity (EEO) and diversity principles
  • the ability to liaise effectively with people at all levels of the organisation whilst acting discreetly, objectively, impartially and maintaining confidentiality
  • the capacity to be accessible to staff and students when required

What will a HDCO do?

  • listen to you if you feel that you have been discriminated against, sexually harassed or bullied or if you have been accused of these
  • help you to clarify issues
  • offer you options for dealing with a situation
  • maintain confidentiality
  • act in a support role throughout the complaints process if necessary, which may include attending meetings as an observer
  • provide information to students, staff and managers on the University's policies and anti-discrimination legislation.

What won't a HDCO do?

  • discuss your case with anyone without your permission
  • advocate on your behalf
  • resolve or investigate complaints
  • take over your case or try to push you to take any particular action.

What if a HDCO can't help me?

If you are unsure whether your enquiry relates to discrimination, sexual harassment or bullying, HDCOs are able to provide advice on who to contact if they are unable to help.

How does the HDCO role fit into the workplace?

The role of HDCO is voluntary and requires approval by a staff member's manager.

HDCOs may receive enquiries from within or outside their own work area. They may be called upon at short notice to deal with people who are emotional or distressed. The demands placed on a HDCO may vary and can range from meeting with someone for an hour to providing ongoing support throughout the complaints process.

Ongoing professional development is available to HDCOs through regular network meetings and  refresher training. The role is part of normal University duties.


More information

If you would like to know more about the role of Harassment and Discrimination Contact Officers, contact:

Felicity Thyer
Staff Equity and Diversity Consultant
03 522 78451 felicity.thyer@deakin.edu.au


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