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)

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

University of Newcastle - "respectful", "ethics", "respect", "trust", "integrity", ETC ETC ETC


"only the appearance of ethical concern is important. 
So, driven by a need for self-aggrandizement, the extreme narcissistic organization will hire (expensive) consultants, create an elaborate program, and make sure the program receives much favorable comment in the press. The program will become a corporate bragging point; another way of proclaiming greatness. But, as Roberts (2001) notes, the ‘‘work of ethics’’ will go on purely at the surface, leaving the operational interior free to pursue its usual agenda."  (Duchon 2009).

Monday, May 4, 2015

Speaking out at the University of Newcastle - why is everyone so scared?

From our survey of 195 staff/students from the University of Newcastle, it is clear that people are extremely scared to speak out because of the well-known consequences or questioning anything at this University.

·      am unable to for threat of loosing job
·      Yes. Those bullied were too frightened of making a complaint as they felt it would just give the bully more incentive to treat them badly.
·      I am not comfortable sharing my negative experience for fear of retribution.
·      People are so scared to speak out against bullying at the University of Newcastle. The reason is that they see the outcome of everyone who does, that is, the victim is systematically destroyed by HR and the complaints process, and usually forced to leave, while the bullying is protected and in some cases promoted.
·      I know other students get the same treatment but they are to scared to do anything about it because they fear what will happen to them.
·      Keeping head down as it will just get immeasurably worse and I'll be forced to leave.
·      She has too many firends and is protected within the university. People are ascared to speak out against her and her actions for fear of retrobuion.
·      If I complain, my situation will be worse.
·      I will not make a formal complaint because this will further jeopardise my job and other work-related issues such as leave approval and work flexibility.
·      I want to make a formal complaint but am too scared to do so until I get a reference and a new position.
·      I have tried to stand up for myself but I cannot afford to lose my job
·      Have not submitted a complaint as yet but intend to do so though I am very scared because there is a conflict of interest between the manager in charge of complaints and the person I wish to complain about.
·      Bullying occurs all the time at the Uni. People don't report it because it makes life even more difficult, and unless you make a real song and dance, no one will pay the slightest bit of attention.
·      As a former student and then researcher at UoN I would like to point out that this case of plagarism is one of many. Michelle had the guts to report it. I never did, due to fear of what it would do to my career and my life.
·      you only need to disagree once with the wrong person/people or stand up for something you feel strongly about and you are saying goodbye to your career and your self worth.
·      The University has a monopoly in this region, and to come forward, even in a low level way means one of two things. You either kiss your career and everything you’ve worked for goodbye, or you have to leave the region. For those with families and ties in Newcastle, this is often impossible. Most people therefore stay put, go on antidepressants and have their self belief, esteem and confidence brutalised
·      Everyone knows that if you speak out your life will be destroyed. So what incentive is there to do the right thing?
·      Bullying is soul destroying but unfortunately reporting bullying at the UoN means being thrown out of the Univesity.
·      Not only should the University attempt to expose some 'real life stories' of former staff members who have had their careers destroyed after their attempts at reporting discrimination, bullying etc. But they should ensure that the culprits responsible for the bullying and elimination of staff attend all sessions.
·      Today when I look back at my experiences at UoN after reporting unethical and corrupt behaviour one thing stands out. That is the number of people who knew the truth but elected "not to get involved" and those who had the power to do something, but decided I was just "collateral damage".
·      Quite a few of my colleagues have been bullied and they have spoken to me about specific incidents, but for fear of losing their jobs, they haven't reported it and so they have been suffering silently like I have for many years, while the bullies have been moving up to newer heights of power.
·      The University of Newcastle policy states that "Any suspected or actual incidence of fraud or corruption must be reported immediately". That is clear enough BUT when you do report anything, you are bullied (ostracised, sidelined, harrassed) and often forced to leave your job.
·      There are some staff in the department who only work part time after coming back from maternity leave. They are not game to say anything about this type of bullying or reporting seeing bullying against full time staff incase they loose their part time status and are pushed to full time or told that there is no longer any work for them.
·      if you speak out against the corrupt management decisions at the Uni of Newcastle you are simply bullied out. It doesn't matter if it is plagairism, misconduct, or somewhat questionable agreements with foreign institutions....you either keep quiet or your life is made hell and you are eventually bullied out.
·      It is correct to fear retaliation when you disclose something that management wants to keep quiet. In my case I believe speaking out against academic misconduct has resulted in the end of my career as an academic, but being an academic is more than a career.
·      Take example of those who speak up. Not people like me who are too frightened to take risk for what is right. I have seen many of my colleagues bullied into silence. I did nothing thinking it was safer for my own career. I agree with the comment made in another comment that was posted - "good people do something", but I guess most of us aren't really "good people". I wonder whether in the end my career will be worth it knowing this, but still I am too scared to risk signing my name.
·      Michelle, I have heard about your story. I wish I could be as brave as you in coming forward. I am in a similar situation, and when I tried to speak up I was bullied into silence, and my career threatened. I, like many others, simply don't know what to do to find any kind of resolution or justice, and am too afraid to speak up further.
·       people are SCARED to give their names...this is because they know that people who speak the truth are bullied...
·      One staff member who I made friends with me told me she could not see me anymore as she feared being seen with me in public at the university was affecting her career - she was also starting to experience career threatening bullying. She talked to me one or twice by phone after this and told me that once she stopped seeing me, the bullying stopped.
·      There is fear and this is natural. Some of those who posted comments here are fearful of possible repercussions.
·      My experience of reporting bullying at the University of Newcastle resulted in entering a surreal nightmare of a world where the truth no longer existed. The bullies (and the reputation of the uni) had to be protected and I was designated as a pariah, a non-person to be eliminated from academia
·      Within this particular Unit many staff have, and still are, receiving counselling, and several excellent people have been forced to leave, for this very reason, some without employment to go to. These people fear the results of submitting a formal complaint, as it appears the University protects the bullies, and they fear for their future employment prospects.

Is this NORMAL?  
Is this the way employees should feel?  
Why does the University of Newcastle behave this way?  

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

"The University (of Newcastle) is a model for integrity" - according to itself

Following the ABC Four Corners program on international student recruitment, claiming “corruption, plagiarism, widespread cheating and exploitation”,  Michael Robertson has written in The Australian that

"..for years universities have declared how much importance they attach to ethical practices. Look at any university website, search for values, mission, integrity, code of conduct and the like, and you will probably find impressive commitments to ethical standards and practices."

The University of Newcastle in its Code of Conduct states that one of its values is HONESTY which "involves acting lawfully and with academic integrity".

Another value is TRUST - "being able to rely on the integrity, honesty, capability, confidentiality
and fairness of others".

ACCOUNTABILITY - "committed to academic integrity and hold to account any unethical behaviour or wrongdoing.

"As a result, the University (of Newcastle) is a model for integrity".

Robertson continues, stating

"Universities should take their ethical responsibilities seriously, not just because most are answerable to taxpayers, or because they must comply with public sector ethical standards.

Society can quite reasonably look to universities to set consistently good ethical standards for others to follow. And universities must be willing to practise by the same ethics they teach their students in many disciplines, including in business ethics.

According to the Ethics Resources Centre in the US, “a strong ethical culture creates a happier, healthier organisation”. Unfortunately, when staff witness superiors turning a blind eye to conduct that seems inconsistent with the university’s own values and policies, the organisation’s ethical culture is diminished."

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Shock horror! Economists query the pay of top university administrators.

1 comment:
Foster and Frijters have dared to suggest what we all know;

"Capping the salaries of top university administrators, rather than using government debt to finance exorbitant payrolls for these bureaucrats, would help a bit."

Does the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Newcastle actually deserve/work hard enough to deserve a salary that is around EIGHT times that of a senior lecturer?

Are the salaries of the Deputy Vice-Chancellors of the University of Newcastle justified/justifiable (around SIX times that of a senior lecturer)?

Never mind the Pro-Vice Chancellors of each Faculty!!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Deny, silence, gag, defend,...........

"The University of Newcastle has defended a five fold increase of its spending on hospitality for its international student agents, saying it was due to a "training event". (ABC)

The university's Deputy Vice-Chancellor Andrew Parfitt has told the ABC that it has developed an extremely rigorous and comprehensive approach to protecting and maintaining academic integrity."

"The University of Newcastle provided documents showing it previously paid undisclosed commissions totalling almost $24 million to international student agents since 2010.

It has also revealed that money spent on hospitality for the agents soared from $8,000 to $36,000 last year.

The university said the extra spending was "an investment in a training event" in 2014."

$36,000 is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING for the University of Newcastle.

It spends endless amounts of money on using legal firms to get rid of whistleblowers,  providing higher salaries, rewards and promotion to academics who get rid of whistleblowers, to silence/gag students and staff who have been bullied/harassed/victimised at the University, paying senior management exorbitant salaries, keeping the vast media and spin department going, etc etc.

As a taxpayer, are you happy for your money to be used like this?

Would you like $36,000 to be spent on your next company event?

What about $24 million - yes, $24,000,000.00?

Friday, April 17, 2015

Another way that the University of Newcastle (mis-)uses taxpayers' money

1 comment:
So we know that large amounts of tax payers' money are used at the University of Newcastle to pay lawyers to protect staff accused of misconduct.

We know that large amounts of taxpayer's money are used to pay staff to remain silent about the bullying and harassment that they have suffered (it costs around $450,000 to gag a member of staff).  At least FIFTEEN people have reported that they have been gagged by the University to keep quiet about their bullying.

We also know that large amounts of money are used to keep the media machine going - to pay spin masters to aggressively market the University.

A new way of using the money that the University of Newcastle gets from taxpayers is to pay agents to recruit international students "despite widespread acknowledgement that a number of these agents are corrupt and deal in fraudulent documents". (ABC)

"The University of Newcastle (UON), which has paid previously undisclosed commissions totalling almost $24 million to agents since 2010, told Four Corners that it had also run into trouble with its offshore partners.

"In January 2014 UON terminated a contract with an agent as a result of an investigation that confirmed fraudulent documentation had been submitted by the agent as part of two student applications," a UON spokeswoman said.

The university has also recently splurged on hospitality for its agents. Last year, its budget for entertainment soared from $7,850 to more than $36,000. Its spokeswoman explained that, in 2014, "the university hosted a major summit in Australia for its offshore agents, as well as summits in regional hubs across Australia"."

Why are we not surprised?

Monday, April 13, 2015

"Fat cats slurping on the cream"

Caroline McMillen, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Newcastle, has a salary that is about
8 times
that of a senior lecturer!
Her salary increased by 13.8% between 2012 and 2013.

As HW says, "the whole deregulation debate has been propelled because universities are broke. Apparently they’re not."