Governor-General’s office defends ‘privilege walk’ training

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Government House, Canberra.

CONSERVATIVE lobbyists have attacked a training program conducted this week for the Governor-General’s office that has been described as a “privilege walk”.

Avid monarchists are leading the charge on behalf of defending the Queen’s honour against the decision the office of the Australian representative to the monarch made over inviting in an “unconscious bias and inclusivity” training from Charles Sturt University.

But the training that was to be delivered to a small percentage of staff, who lead teams or manage employees of the Office of the Official Secretary to the GovernorGeneral, is not mandatory, with staff free not to participate nor have any expectations to join.

“The decision to make the training available reflects the work of the office, which through the administration of Australia’s honours and awards system, welcoming (overseas) guests to Government House or supporting the GovernorGeneral’s program sees staff regularly meet and deal with people from a diversity of backgrounds,” the spokesperson for the Governor-General said.

“Understanding unconscious bias and the importance of inclusivity can benefit staff.”

The spokesperson told “CityNews” that GovernorGeneral David Hurley has no involvement in administrative decisions taken by his Office of the Official Secretary that includes the current training program being run in Canberra.

The office will be covering travel costs of the facilitators, but there is no charge associated with the university training.

The Official Secretary to the Governor-General, Paul Singer, said ahead of the training that the office will “trust it will have a positive impact” on the organisation.

“It is the nature of our work that we deal with – and indeed celebrate – diversity on a daily basis,” Mr Singer said.

“We consciously embrace diversity, prioritise continuous learning among our team and are looking forward to working with the Charles Sturt University team.”

The training is designed to assist participants to learn strategies to create a more inclusive workplace and increase their awareness of unconscious bias.

The exercise covers interactive activities and group discussions on understanding privilege and unconscious bias, equity versus equality and also strategies to improve inclusiveness as an individual, a team or organisation, and a society.

It has also been designed to offer a “safe environment” for individuals about nuances that exist within the interactive and group areas.

But for the Australian Monarchist League, the unconscious bias and inclusivity training will force participants during so-called privilege walks to take a step forward in sessions over questions about being “white” and “speaking English”.

The Institute of Public Affairs that is a non-profit, free market public policy think tank that espouses right-wing liberaltarian views have stood in solidarity after publicly damning the program that allegedly challenges participants about their race, religion and education.

“The Australian Monarchist League is opposed to any sort of scheme devised to demean what sort of background a person comes from and whether they are white or of colour,” Australian Monarchist League national chair Philip Benwell said.

“No one should be discriminated against because of their race, religion or background.

“Australia is a constitutional monarchy and all are equal under the crown and Australian governments, and the Australian Governor-General and governors should be aware of this.

“(They) should never attempt to embarrass individuals on the basis of who or what they are, or whether their intentions are well-meaning or not.”

The Institute of Public Affairs that is a non-profit, free market public policy think tank that espouses right-wing liberaltarian views have damned the program that allegedly challenges participants about their race, religion and education.

The training is a key item in the university’s workplace gender equity strategy 2018-2022 program and the Athena SWAN Action Plan that is an evidence-based approach to analysis, action and demonstrable impact to advance gender equality.

The university has previously delivered the training to staff from NSW Health and Wagga Wagga City Council.

The program has been “well-received” from participants, according to university data.

One survey had 89 per cent of respondents agreeing that the training program’s content was “practical and useful to their work” and a further 95 per cent say they would also recommend the training to their colleagues.

“The university does not have specific data pertaining to the individual exercises within the unconscious bias and inclusivity training,” a CSU spokesperson said.

“Overall, the data the university has collected to evaluate the entire training program has shown it was well-received.”

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