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.

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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)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Academia versus Codes of Ethics?

Numerous academic disciplines have professional codes of ethics/codes of conduct to guide their members.

For example,

In the Teachers’ Code of Professional Practice (Australia), teachers must treat "..colleagues with courtesy and sensitivity to their rights, duties and aspirations" and act against "any form of harassment or unlawful discrimination managing and reporting perceived misconduct appropriately".

Australian Association of Social Workers states that "Social workers will relate to both social work colleagues and colleagues from other disciplines with respect, integrity and courtesy," and "will address suspected or confirmed professional misconduct, incompetence, unethical behaviour or negligence by a colleague through the appropriate organisational, professional or legal channels."

Speech Pathology Australia states that "We treat our colleagues with honesty, fairness, respect and good faith. In particular, we....identify and act on concerns we may have about colleagues’ professional competence or conduct".

Australian Psychological Society also has a code that states that "psychologists: (a) communicate respect for other people through their actions and language;" and psychologists who "reasonably suspect that another psychologist is acting in a manner inconsistent with the ethical principles and standards presented in this Code: ... (c) report the conduct to a relevant regulatory body or the Ethics Committee of the Society."

Nursing is similar.

Why are we receiving so many complaints of bullying and harassment from staff and students within education and these health profession disciplines at the University of Newcastle?
Why are these people being bullied for following the code of conduct of their profession (reporting misconduct)?

Do the professional associations receive and/or respond to these complaints?

Are these the people who enter a profession to be of service and/or to care for others?


  1. myself and three other asian students were eating in the modern language staffroom. then this while male came to tell us we shouldn't be there because we were students, we shouldn't use the microwave to heat up our meals. we think he is a lecturer in the department and we see him sometimes. we were angry and upset because we pay so much fees every year. the room is always empty. we don't think some of the lecturers like us. it's very hard to find a place to heat up our lunch and the food in the shops is so expensive for us.

  2. yeah, my friends and i had the same experience at the modern language department. we were treated like thieves when we tried to heat up our meals in their microwave oven.

  3. All I can see where I sit in colleagues jostling for positions at the cost of their own integrity (do they actually have any?!), getting rid of anyone who's a professional threat to them so they can get a fast promotion. Ethical behavior is the last thing on their minds.

  4. The real problem and danger of the place is the complicity and active participation of many of the ordinary folks in the bullying, which is wide spread. From secretaries to low-level operatives to senior students. They have proved to be very effective instruments of bullying and they in turn have been handsomely rewarded by the bullies and some become bullies themselves. This has helped to create this shocking moral decay of the place.

  5. It's not uncommon for research assistants to pen the articles/chapters, but have their names as the last authors of these creations. Is this ethical?

  6. One friend of mine recently resisted this and fell out of favour and very possibly his further employment and source of income with a CI.

  7. Is the deliberate hiring of husband and wife into the same unit/division/school ethical? Why is it so wide spread at the UoN? In many other universities in the country it is not allowed.