Canberra Hospital Management decision: Women not allowed to wear shorts, men are

The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) is today calling out management at The Canberra Hospital for putting the work health and safety of staff second to their outdated and blatantly sexist values. 

Women wardspersons at the Canberra Hospital have been issued a ‘directive effective immediately’ by senior managers to not wear the work shorts that their male colleagues wear on a daily basis.  

The directive came after a staff member at the hospital wore shorts to work on hot day, was directed to not to wear them again, and then when wearing pants, passed out due to overheating. 

Management at Canberra Hospital have since approved a shorter pant for women – one they deem as more appropriate because it comes to below the knee.  

Wardspersons at The Canberra Hospital walk upwards of 20km a day and in the warmer months, this can be very hot work and has caused some staff to faint. Male wardspersons wear shorts of their choosing every day but female workers have been fighting for almost a year to be able to wear workwear shorts to work. 

Today the CPSU is calling on Canberra Health Services CEO Dave Peffer and the ACT Government to immediately intervene and let women get on with the job.

Quotes attributable to Brooke Muscat, CPSU National President:

“It is hard to fathom that this is a fight we are having in 2023 – it is outrageous and the management at The Canberra Hospital clearly need a wakeup call.

“The shorts are fine for the Hospital expansion construction site, they’re fine for working at the Arboretum, they’re fine for male wardies, but they aren’t fine for women.

“These women walk upwards of 20km a day doing physical work, it’s hot and they want to wear shorts.

“Let them wear shorts and get on with the job of caring for patients.

“We have a situation where senior executive managers seem to think women’s knees are offensive and need to be covered at work.

“But the real problem here isn’t women’s knees, it’s the outdated and sexist opinions of people who are more concerned with seeing a woman in shorts than they are with her passing out from overheating.

“Management should be focussing on patient outcomes and wait times, rather than women wearing shorts. The priorities are all wrong.”

Media contact: Tori McGregor 0429 000 620