Bullying at the University of Newcastle (Australia)

We are working to highlight and stop academic workplace bullying at the University of Newcastle, Australia. We are a group of staff and students who have been bullied for speaking out about misconduct.

Help make a difference –

*answer our survey,

*contribute to the blog, or

*contact us.

This will help us gather as much information as possible so that we can put an end to this bullying with its’ decades-long history.

“Systemic bullying, hazing and abuse generally are identified with poor, weak or toxic organizational cultures. Cultures that are toxic have stated ethical values that are espoused but not employed, and other non-ethical values which are operational, dominant, but unstated.

Such cultures thrive when good people are silent, silenced, or pushed out; when bad apples are vocal, retained, promoted, and empowered; and when the neutral majority remain silent in order to survive. Those who are most successful in such a toxic culture are those who have adapted to it, or adopted it as their own”. (McKay, Arnold, Fratzl & Thomas, 2008)

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

"Rape, attempted rape, and other sexual misconduct" at the University of Newcastle

"THE largest ever Freedom of Information investigation into reports of rape, attempted rape, and other sexual misconduct at Australian universities shows most victims have been wasting their breath reporting their abuse."

We have had reports of sexual harassment and abuse at the University of Newcastle from both students and staff.  What happens when people report this?  Does it vanish into a big black hole like most misconduct at the University of Newcastle, particularly if it is staff misconduct?

In this FoI investigation by Channel 7, there were 14 reported cases at the University of Newcastle.  Two people were suspended and there were two expulsions.

What about all the other cases?  We know that international students who have been sexually harassed by professors and other senior staff have had their complaints silenced within their school or faculty.  We also know that school heads have evidence of sexual harassment by staff but the university will not take any action.

At least the University of Newcastle is consistent - any misconduct, particularly by members of staff, must be silenced, those who make complaints must be gagged, destroyed and vaporised.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Keeping the Bentley in petrol!

Staff, both professional and academic, are in uproar about the university-wide restructure that is aimed at cutting professional staff jobs.

"This restructure follows a constant stream of no less than 15 major, formal, reviews and restructures of organisational units across the university over the past three years", according to Associate Professor Tom Griffiths of the NTEU.

All the usual empty slogans are being trotted out by Caroline McMillen, the Vice-Chancellor:-
  •  "agile solutions’
  • ‘greater flexibility’
  •  “embracing changes”
  •  “ensuring that we’ve got the best organisational and professional support at the university for what is a changing academic enterprise”.
  •  “It's a conversation … about thinking through different changes that might come and how do we handle that. 
The results of the annual "Your Voice" survey have not been released.  "However Professor McMillen said the survey was being released in a more targeted way than in the past" Newcastle Herald.

Is this because the results will demonstrate the low morale of staff and their lack of confidence in the university management?  "This is unprecedented, and reflects very poorly indeed on management,” Professor Tom Griffiths said.

"The available evidence, in fact, suggests that the university’s senior leadership may be in crisis.

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) is leaving at the end of this month, and despite significant notice, interim arrangements to cover this role were announced just this week.

The Faculty of Science and IT last had an ongoing leader back in 2014. Since then, no fewer than three acting or interim leaders have been drafted to hold the fort.

The leader of the Faculty of Business and Law is due to leave next year, and again it appears likely that instead of a timely and considered succession, interim arrangements will follow." (Newcastle Herald)

The senior managers at the University enjoy astronomical salaries as well as bonuses which they award themselves when they do a good job.   The current Vice-Chancellor, Caroline McMillen, gets around $900,000 a year.

She needs that to keep putting fuel in her Bentley!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Calling all those who have been sexually abused at the University of Newcastle - Submissions on sexual assault and sexual harassment at university

The Human Rights Commission is conducting an investigation on sexual abuse at universities. 

"The Australian Human Rights Commission is calling for submissions relating to individuals’ experiences of sexual assault and sexual harassment at university. This is part of a major project being undertaken by the Commission which is looking at the nature and reporting of sexual assault and sexual harassment at Australian universities."

You can make a submission via their website - here.

Closing date is Friday 2nd December 2016.

All information they get will be de-identified so that no-one can be identifiable from their submission.

"photo of a head of school's you know what", "cyberstalking", "physically spying on me", etc etc

Here is another shocking account of bullying at the University of Newcastle.

"I can finally reveal why I was bullied.

I was sent a photo of a head of school's you know what and he wrote that if I didn't "do something" about it he might refuse my application for post graduate study.

He used to look at me in such a dirty, leery way that I honestly tried as much as I could to avoid him. There was one time he saw me walking away and since apparently no one is allowed to do that he decided he would humiliate me.

My postgraduate application was later rejected and the reason was that it was at the head of school's discretion.

I provided the University management with evidence he had been cyberstalking me and physically spying on me but they did nothing.

I asked for further clarification and it was refused.

I am not prepared to let a dirty old man sexually subjugate me in exchange for an education.

The only reason I am posting the information here is because the University have refused to acknowledge what happened. They often discredit the victim's story and then cover the whole thing up.

The University refused to acknowledge Facebook evidence as valid and yet when I approached the police they said it was a matter for the University." (emphasis added).

Monday, November 7, 2016

Is this about the University of Newcastle?? "The mantra of bad organizations: “That’s in the past, forget about it, let’s move on”" (David Yamada)

David Yamada writes

"When a dysfunctional organization seeks to move on from one failed chapter to the next, one of its biggest challenges is ensuring that the mistakes, miscues, and injustices of the immediate past disappear. After all, accountability can be brutal, especially for those in charge, so why must the previous events and actions muddy up everyone's boundless excitement for the glorious future?
Thus, the message is sent from on high: It's a brand new day. We can't afford to dwell upon the past. Let's move forward with our great new leadership ideas initiatives slogans!
Those who aren't on board with the regime facade change may be marginalized or worse. They may even disappear and be rendered unpersons to help erase institutional memories that are best forgotten.
This pattern occurs over and again at lousy organizations in every sector, public, private, and non-profit. It is the tactical refuge of bad leaders who somehow get repeated chances to screw up. Sadly, it also appeals to the words of philosopher George Santayana, for organizations that cannot remember their past are surely doomed to repeat it, typically with recurring negative consequences."
Yamada must have been writing this about the University of Newcastle - champions at getting rid of anyone who raises legitimate ethical issues.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Sexual assaults and the University of Newcastle

"THE largest ever Freedom of Information investigation into reports of rape, attempted rape, and other sexual misconduct at Australian universities shows most victims have been wasting their breath reporting their abuse.
Only a tiny fraction of reported incidents in the last five years have resulted in any serious disciplinary action against offenders." (news.com)

"the universities themselves admit that the overwhelming majority of students who have experienced rape or harassment never report to their institution, meaning the figures uncovered by the FOI represent just the tip of the iceberg".

University of Newcastle: 14 reported cases, 2 suspensions, 2 expulsions noted

"(due to under-reporting, figures are not indicative of the actual rate of sexual assault, harassment or misconduct, and that higher report rates may reflect better reporting mechanisms. Therefore these results are primarily useful for understanding the proportion of disciplinary actions that were taken in relation to formally reported incidents in the last five years. These figures have been provided courtesy of Channel 7. Lack of disciplinary action may be the result of an inability to substantiate a complaint, or some other cause)." (news.com)

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Academic to appeal commission's ruling - University of Newcastle

The Newcastle Herald reports the following:-

A former University of Newcastle academic who repeatedly swore during a lecture will appeal against a Fair Work Commission ruling to uphold the University’s right to sack him. Dr Colin Wilks was dismissed on Oct 26 last year for, among other things, saying ‘f…’ on several occasions during a lecture dealing with mental health issues on August 1 2014. He appealed the [university's] decision to sack him, however, the Commissioner found he had failed to meet the standards he was required to meet in his dealings with staff and students.

Dr Wilks, who had taught at the university since 1992, said he had been bullied by several staff members after he aired concerns relating to the introduction of a Theology Degree.

This, he said, had a significant impact on his mental health.

He said he was appealing the decision because, among other things, he did not believe the Commissioner adequately considered the circumstances that led-up to his outburst.

"This case has always been about bullying" Dr Wilks said.

“I only did the things I did because I was under extreme pressure"

A student who attended the August 2014 lecture complained to the university that she had been distressed by Dr Wilks’s conduct and by the view he put forward about mental health.

While Dr Wilks acknowledged that he swore he said the the [student who complained] "did not say anything about the fact I had sworn" and had misunderstood the point he was making about mental health.

“What she interpreted me as saying is that people who are mentally ill choose to be mentally ill, but that was certainly not what I meant” he said"

There is a Facebook page which has been set up to support Dr Wilks:-
https://www.facebook.com/SaveDrColinWilks/?fref=ts&ref=br_tf