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)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Plugging the holes......

The Stop Bullying group put up anti-bullying posters
  • So…the Banner and Poster Procedure was amended by Acting DVC(S) (a.k.a. Nick Saunders) 7 June 2011.
The Stop Bullying group listed the types of bullying which had been suffered by staff and students at this university.
  • So ….a new Diversity and Inclusiveness Policy was introduced, listing types of bullying which were virtually the same as the ones we had highlighted.  Approved, Vice-Chancellor (a.k.a. Nick Saunders). 23 June 2011.
The Stop Bullying group has continued to gather information on bullying at UoN using a variety of methods.
  • So…in the Diversity and Inclusiveness Policy, examples of harassment have been amended to include the displaying or sending offensive information such as posters, letters, e-mails, faxes, screen savers, websites or books etc. Amendment of wording Approved DVC(A&GR) (a.k.a. Kevin McConkey). 1 November 2011.
The Stop Bullying group put a video clip about bullying on Youtube.
  • So .. the University engaged legal experts to block the video clip.
Silencing any form of freedom of speech at the University of Newcastle - is this like trying to plug the holes in a sinking ship?

Sunday, November 20, 2011


On Thursday 17 November, in the Workers Compensation Commission,

the University of Newcastle Insurer accepted full liability for the injuries that Michelle Adams suffered as a result of the bullying and harassment at the University of Newcastle.

As Michelle always said
"the truth will win"!!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Changes to policy by McConkey

In a previous post, we mentioned the email from McConkey, DVC at this University.  He spoke about the distress caused by anti-bullying emails and posters.

Remember that he said the  
"campaign goes against everything that the University stands for as outlined in our code of conduct - honesty, fairness, trust, accountability and respect."

Well, just after he sent the email, McConkey added some new examples of actions that are considered to be harassment (Diversity and Inclusiveness Policy 941).(Amendment of wording in Attachment 1, Approved DVC(A&GR) 1 November 2011).

"Behaviour which may constitute harassment may include, but is not limited to: .......................
  • displaying or sending offensive or pornographic information such as posters, letters, e-mails, faxes, screen savers, websites or books;
  • making offensive telephone, electronic mail, or other electronic communications;
  • unwelcome invitations especially after prior refusal."
THe Oxford English Dictionary defines "offensive" as "Giving, or liable to give, offence; displeasing; annoying; insulting."

So if you send anything to anyone that they do not want to hear, or anything that they feel annoys them, displeases them or offends them, it can be considered "offensive" and so you can be accused of "harrassment".

Yet another way of silencing dissent and preventing freedom of speech.

Of course, when McConkey sends emails about the latest promotions of bullies, plagiarists, etc, that does not displease or offend or annoy those of us who have suffered - so that is definitely not harassment!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Plagiarism and the University of Newcastle

Our latest straw poll from this website reveals some new information about plagiarism at this university.

Of 28 respondents,

  • 64% (18) said that they had been bullied for reporting plagiarism or for supporting a plagiarism complaint.
  • 7% (2) had possibily been bullied for reporting plagiarism or for supporting a plagiarism complaint
  • 28% (8) had not.

Yes, we know this is a straw poll.
Yes, we know that this is only a small sample.

BUT, with the history of plagiarism scandals at this university, even only one person being bullied for reporting plagiarism is wrong?
Is it because some of the plagiarism is by staff??

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Suppressing dissent

Once again the University of Newcastle achieves top marks!

Brian Martin, on his Suppression of Dissent website, lists some of the methods used against dissenters/critics:-
  • censorship of writing;
  • blocking of publications;
  • blocking of appointments;
  • blocking of promotions;
  • blocking or withdrawal of research grants;
  • forced job transfers;
  • reprimands;
  • denial of research opportunities;
  • legal actions;
  • ostracism and harassment;
  • dismissal;
  • blacklisting;
  • spreading of rumours.
We have had confirmation of each and evey one of these methods occurring at the University of Newcastle. 

Talk about a textbook example of the suppression of dissent!

100% for the University of Newcastle on their ability and willingness to suppress dissent.

Oh wait a minute - what about "Self-censorship" - this "occurs because people are worried about risking their jobs, promotion prospects or ability to live without threat in their community, or because they fear direct suppression".   We also have confirmation of this.

So the Uni also gets a double bonus for achieving this.

100% plus a double bonus for the University of Newcastle - is it a leader in its field?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Jail possible for workplace bullies

Queensland may be the next state to introduce jail terms for workplace bullies, according to their Industrial Relations Minister.  A group has been established to examine
"how workplace bullying is being dealt with around Australia and internationally. Furthermore, the group will ensure that Queensland's framework for dealing with workplace bullying is kept up-to-date and effective.

"Brodies law" has already been enacted in Victoria.

Under the Queensland "Work Health and Safety Act 2011, commencing in January 2012, individuals involved in workplace bullying  " face a maximum fine of $300,000 and/or 5 years imprisonment for an offence under the Act".

New South Wales is lagging behind these states.

Is it because there are just too many people who will speak out about their bullying?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

".... it is essential that people remain in ignorance..."

Harold Pinter (winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005) stated that

“the majority of politicians, ... , are interested not in truth but in power and in the maintenance of that power. To maintain that power it is essential that people remain in ignorance, that they live in ignorance of the truth, even the truth of their own lives. What surrounds us therefore is a vast tapestry of lies, upon which we feed.”

Is this why those who expose the truth
 about staff and student mistreatment
 at this University are considered
 to be so “dangerous”? 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Money money money

According to the ABC, the University is investigating "a staff member for allegedly making fraudulent claims against research grant monies". 

Apparently the University has established a Committee of Inquiry to investigate these claims BUT this Committee cannot impose a "disciplinary sanction on the staff member and it will be up to the relevant Deputy Vice Chancellor to decide if there will be any action".
  • What about all the other "claims"/ "uses" of research money at this University - is anyone investigating those?
  • What about the taxpayers' money that the University uses to pay lawyers and barristers to quietly get rid of "undesirable" staff who refuse to behave unethically?
  • What about the money the University pays to external investigators to "objectively" investigate complaints?
  • What about the money spent on lawyers so that our Youtube clip could be blocked?
  • What about the money spent on engaging "external agencies" to "manage" the distress that anti-bullying emails and posters are causing?

 No wonder the Newcastle Herald stated that that the new Vice-Chancellor, Professor Caroline McMillen "started amid controversies"........
and these money issues are only the tip of the iceberg!!!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

"Memo to Executives: Let the Bully Go, Boost the Bottom Line"

To support  Freedom from Workplace Bullies Week, the Workplace Bullying Institute in the United states has asked executives (this could include management at the University of Newcastle) to end their relationship with Bob and Bobette, the bullies, that makes life miserable for everyone else.

"It will take courage, of course. Here’s why and how to do it.

From the Workplace Bullying Institute website
Bullies torment and abuse others with impunity. They do so because they have spent months, even years, groveling at the feet of a higher-ranking sponsor. That is, they torment down the org chart, but ingratiate (brown nose, ass kiss) up the ladder. All of their time is spent managing their sponsor’s impression of them. While targets keep their noses to the grindstone doing the work they love, the nose of bullies hover near the rear ends of their chosen sponsors. That’s how Bob makes himself indispensable.

On balance, several people have tried to tell you about Bob before. You didn’t believe them. They brought you news about Bob you couldn’t stand to hear. It hurt you to hear, but they were reporting the emotional abuse Bob foisted on them. You had several fired for daring bring this information to you. Others quit out of desperation. Bob convinced you that they all were faulty and he alone is competent.