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Head of Campus Security was homophobic in previous job, tribunal finds

Students are calling for the security chief’s resignation

Photo: Sydney Morning Herald

Head of Campus Security Simon Hardman was “homophobic” in his previous career as a superintendent at Newtown Local Area Command, a tribunal found today, as students amp up calls for his resignation.

In a significant legal win, four police officers under Hardman’s supervision successfully argued that senior management, including Hardman, had engaged in homosexual discrimination and breached the state’s anti-discrimination laws.

A petition by the SRC’s Queer Action Collective has demanded that the University oppose all forms of LGBTQI+ discrimination in accordance with its anti-discrimination policies, and called for Hardman’s immediate resignation.

The four officers lodged a complaint back in 2016, alleging that Hardman used derogatory terminology and slurs when referring to them

When one of the officers — Christian McDonald — injured himself on the way to work, Hardman was alleged to have told him, “you should be used to having your head down arse up in the concrete.” 

On another two occasions, the tribunal heard that Hardman referred to McDonald as a “pansy” and when discussing Splendour in the Grass, said words to the effect of “splendour in your arse.” 

Back in 2015, Hardman began suspecting the men of illicit drug use. 

Hardman lodged an internal complaint against the four officers which identified them as a “close knit friendship group of homosexual like-minded NT Police.” 

He believed that their attendance at several Oxford Street nightclubs, including Stonewall, raised “suspicion” and showed their reputations for “promiscuity” and “loose morals.”

“Drug use is thought to be fundamental in such indiscriminate sexual encounters,” Hardman wrote in the signed complaint.

Such clubs were “very well known for drug supply and drug use.”

The officers were referred to a series of drug tests which returned a negative result in each case. 

The tribunal found that heterosexual officers who went drinking were not subjected to any complaints of drug use or internal investigations.

Describing the officers as “homosexual like-minded NT police” suggested a “process of reasoning, not necessarily conscious, by which the four male homosexual officers at Newtown were presumed to have engaged in drug use by reason of their homosexuality.”

Hardman was “motivated, consciously or unconsciously, to make the complaints” against two of the officers by reason of their homosexuality

He did not give any evidence before the tribunal.

Earlier this year, documents obtained by Honi under freedom of information laws revealed that campus security staff under Hardman’s supervision were the subject of a complaint alleging homophobic behaviour. 

“The behaviour of campus security was aggressive, homophobic and a poor reflection of Sydney University,” the complaint said.

The University’s Bullying, Harassment and Discrimination Prevention Policy stipulates that discrimination on the basis of a person’s sexuality may warrant disciplinary action, including termination of employment, in the case of staff.

When Hardman joined the University as head of campus security and emergency management in 2017, “normal recruitment processes were followed,” according to an official University spokesperson. 

“The University is aware of the recent ruling involving our Head of Security, and will carefully consider its conclusions.”

“Any form of discriminatory behaviour will not be tolerated on our campus; the wellbeing of our students, staff and broader community is our first priority.”

“We note this matter occurred before Mr Hardman joined the University,” said the spokesperson.

Earlier this year, Campus Security was probed by the Independent Commission Against Corruption which heard allegations that security staff had falsified more than $120,000 in fake timesheets.

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