Transgender staff offered new paid leave
A VICTORIAN university has become the first in Australia to offer transgender staff specific paid leave if they decided to undergo gender reassignment surgery.
The new policy introduced at Deakin University will see staff undergoing a sex change up to 10 days of paid leave, as much time off as they would if their partner had a baby.
The addition of "Gender Transition Leave" was announced to Deakin University's 4700 staff members yesterday, furthering the institution's push to become a leading employer and educator for the LGBTIQ community.
"Deakin is committed to diversity in the higher education sector and we recognise the rights of our LGBTIQ+ staff to live and work free of prejudice and discrimination, with all the essential freedoms enjoyed by other members of our university community and the broader population," Deakin's chief operating officer Kean Selway said in a statement.
Mr Selway said due to the social, medical and legal aspects of gender reassignment surgery it can be a very difficult time for the person going through it, which is why Deakin made the decision to introduce this new policy.
"Under Deakin's existing leave provisions, all staff experiencing exceptionally difficult personal circumstances can, with the support of management, apply for 'special leave' directly to the Vice-Chancellor," he said.
"Until now this was the only option for people undergoing a gender transition. Deakin recognised the need for a specific leave entitlement."
According to Mr Selway this change is an important step in fostering an inclusive and supportive environment for both staff and students.
As well as paid leave for the specific purpose of gender reassignment, the university is also employing a range of other initiatives to make their workplace more LGBTIQ friendly including offering training to staff about LGBTIQ awareness, establishing an LGBTIQ Advisory Committee and celebrating days of significance for the community.
The change comes as the Tasmanian government announced it was close to becoming the first Aussie state to remove gender markers from birth certificates.
The bill is expected to be put to a vote in the state's lower house next month and would mean transgender people would be able go about tasks where they have to prove their identity, such as applying for jobs, without being forced to disclose their transgender status.
The proposal has been heavily criticised by Christian and feminist groups claiming the change would infringe on the rights of other Australians.
"Amending a legal document in this way would have many unintended consequences, like jeopardising women only safe-spaces and encouraging potentially dangerous competitive inequalities in sport," Australian Christian Lobby state director Mark Brown said.
"The sex a child is born with is a scientific and immutable fact. Birth certificates are used to detail such historical truths."