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, March 28, 2012

Taking care

In response to comments we have received on this website, we strongly encourage any person who has any thoughts of harming themselves to urgently contact their doctor, hospital or a helpline (e.g. Lifeline 13 11 14).  You can also contact us via our email - see right hand side of this website.

Many of us understand how you must be feeling but nothing (not even the University of Newcastle) is worth hurting yourself for.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Spot the difference!

Edith Cowan University - Misconduct Committee accuses Associate Professor of not crediting co-authors in five publications.
University of Newcastle - Senior Lecturer accuses academic staff member in the School of Environmental and Life Sciences of not crediting co-authors on four publications (acknowledged in IRC in 2009).

Edith Cowan University - Associated Professor's employment terminated.
University of Newcastle - Academic staff member was counselled.

Edith Cowan University - No repercussions for Misconduct Committee who brought the charges.
University of Newcastle - Major repercussions for Senior Lecturer who brought the charges (employment terminated)..

Edit Cowan University -   Accused academic sacked from the university
Unviersity of Newcastle - Accused academic PROMOTED at the university.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Fairy tales!

Once upon a time, there was a woman who worked at a university – she had been working there for a long time as a tutor and researcher but she always worked on short-term part-time contracts.
While she was employed as a researcher at the uni, she had discussions with the head of school and the course-coordinator about her contracts for the upcoming semester, the high number of students and the increased number of hours she would work with these students.
All was well in this happy university-land – the woman worked hard and harmoniously with both staff and students and she was considered a valuable member of staff.  Her upcoming tutoring with the students was organised.
Then one day before semester began, this woman was told by another employee in the school that the university would not allow her to be employed again.  No reason was given.
As with all good fairy tales, the school staff and students gathered together to slay the dragon – they marched on the chancellery, refusing to do their own work until this woman’s contract was put in place and she could work again.  In the spirit of all fairy tales, this woman continued working there and they all worked happily together forever in their ivory tower …………………..
What a lovely fairy tale that ended so happily for everyone – readers by now will be misty-eyed!!
So what REALLY happened at the University of Newcastle?  This woman’s contract was not renewed and she had to disappear.  So much for fairy tales!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Gentle nudge

We chose not to moderate the comments on this website – this means that everyone can have their say, report their experiences and air their concerns about bullying at the University.  We have been encouraged by how much activity there is on this website and how many visitors we continue to have (now over 35,000).
This is a gentle reminder to use this blog as a forum on bullying at the University of Newcastle – this includes the discussion of related issues (e.g. whistleblowing) which involved bullying.  However, please find a more suitable forum to express your views and concerns on other aspects of the University of Newcastle.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Loss of family man and eminent academic

We are all deeply saddened by the news of a University of Newcastle academic taking his life at the end of last week.  His death is a huge loss to his family, friends, colleagues and to his field of research.

Our kindest thoughts are with his family and friends.

STOP PRESS - Details of his memorial service can be found here. Family and friends only.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Employer of Choice for Women Citation for 2012? Sorry, we didn't quite understand that.

The new VC, Professor McMillen has just announed this citation because "the university is an employer that supports women to succees in their careers and balance family responsibilities".

The university has "many career enhancements programs and opportunities designed to support the development of our professional and academic femal staff".

But what about these women - 114 of them who have responded to our survey on workplace bullying?

The experiences of these women who still work at the Uni and those who have been thrown out are described on this blog - you don't even have to buy it like McConkey's "100 Women".

Bringing together stories from women staff and students right here at this university, 114 Women exposes the bullying, harassment and discrimination at the University of Newcastle of one hundred and fourteen courageous women.  Women profiled include staff and students like teachers, social workers, scientists, speech pathologists, language experts and other women who have suffered as they work conscientiously and competently at the University. 
In their stories, women provide the details of why they have been bullied, the effects on them, their work and their families, and the cronyism and corruption that the University tries to keep hidden.  From eminent staff to undergraduate students, the women in this collection will horrify and disturb you by sharing their personal stories of considering suicide, suffering physical and psychological difficulties, losing their work and income, being ostracised and gagged.
For any upcoming celebration, 114 Women is the perfect gift for family and friends of all ages. It will provide a nightmarish but thought-provoking picture of what is really happening right here at the University of Newcastle.
This is a free publication – All details provided at http://stop-b-uon.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Ethical challenge at work?

Are you currently dealing with an ethically challenging workplace?
Are you currently facing an ethical challenge or dilemma in your workplace?
John Neil, a PhD candidate from the University of New South Wales, is conducting a study exploring the emotional dimensions of people’s experiences of ethically challenging situations in organizations.  John is particularly keen to discuss these issues with people who are dealing with such a dilemma at the moment to establish how they deal with the situation as it unfolds or develops over time.
John would like to interview you to explore the ethical challenge you are facing, the emotional dimensions of your experience and how the organization you work in responds to the issue. 

This project has been approved by the university’s ethics committee and all the information you provide will remain confidential and will be de-identified in any reports of the research.
If you are interested in participating, please go to John’s website , Facebook to find out more about this research and how you can contact him.  He can also be contacted by email (John.Neil@uts.edu.au) or Twitter http://twitter.com/#!/livedethics
This is a great opportunity to have your experiences heard as well as to contribute to a better understanding of ethically challenging workplaces.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

More truth coming out at the University of Newcastle

A report in  The Australian today states that not only is Senior Lecturer Dr Li Xia reportedly a casualty of the Chinese restructure, but a lecturer with no qualifications in Chinese studies been appointed to teach the students.

"The new lecturer is Lili Mu, an administrative assistant in the engineering faculty who students say had in the past helped in the teaching of Chinese characters."
A student from the University of Newcastle said
"There's not much us students can do about them forcing Li Xia to leave the university but they should provide us with someone with equivalent qualifications."
Another student said that "appointing a native speaker with business qualifications was akin to "someone with an MBA going to China and teaching English".
To make matters worse, a historian of Australian education, Jo May, has been appointed as convenor of the Chinese program.  "Asked whether she had any qualifications in Chinese studies, the university said her status as a senior academic and acting head of school would give students "the leadership required at this important time of transition"."
Chinese studies have been transferred to the Confucius Institute, an institute "aligned with the Government of the People's Republic of China which aims to promote Chinese language and culture".  The Chinese government is a one-party state.
The university stated that "The course is a university course and adheres to same rigorous quality assurance measures the university has in place for all courses."
The head of the faculty in which Chinese falls is Professor John Germov, and the most senior member of uni staff for academic matters is Professor Kevin McConkey - two names which have been brought to our attention on this blog.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Why is bullying at the University of Newcastle so frequent and so deadly??

David Yamada in his Workplace Bullying Institute blog states that “Academicians are adept at intellectual analysis, manipulation, and argumentation.  When applied to the tasks of teaching, scholarship, and service, these skills reinforce the most socially useful aspects of the academy.  But many of us who have worked in academe have seen what happens when they are applied in hurtful or even malicious ways.”
“OK, so higher education is all about academic freedom, thinking about and expressing significant ideas, and challenging students to think outside the box, right?
Well, not nearly as often as you might think. Aspiring professors would do well not to be seen as being daring or bold. Those seeking academic appointments are counseled to stay on the good sides of their advisors, even if it means tempering their own views.”  Furthermore, ..“faculty are advised to play the same cautious game when it comes to courting those who will be voting on their tenure applications and reviewing their work. Engaging in some vigorous bootlicking doesn’t hurt, either."
The “professional success in academe places heavy premiums on jumping through career hoops, conforming to external expectations, and pleasing others in order to get ahead."
“It is sadly ironic that an endeavor that should celebrate creativity, original thinking, and public education all too often discourages these qualities.”
Many academics are “products of this very socialization process. First, the value placed on compliance empowers some to bully others who won’t go along. A minor “rebellion” such as declining to follow a suggestion for revising a paper or dissertation, or a major one such as refusing to vote a certain way at a meeting, can trigger retaliatory responses....

Friday, March 2, 2012

What is the matter with people working in higher education?

The NTEU (National Tertiary Education Industry Union) has just announted the results of their survey of workplace bullying at the University of New South Wales.

They reported that a large number of UNSW employees had experienced or witnessed bullying behaviour in the workplace - unfair treatment, public humiliation, arbitrary misues of power, repeated shouting, swearing and threatening behaviour.

They also found:-
  • 552 respondents with the vast majority of them had experienced or witnessed bullying.
  • Many staff fear speaking up about being bullied and would like to leave UNSW
  • Staff on fixed-term contracts are particularly vulnerable to bullying.
  • Some line managers were reported as exhibiting highly prejudicial behaviour and attitudes that breach criminal, industrial, OHS and anti-discrimination laws.
  • 66.2% of respondents were women
  • 70% report that the bullying is ongoing.
The survey on this website has reported similar findings to the UNSW one.

What happens - does the education coming in one ear push any morality, respect and basic humanity out the other ear??