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)

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Public hearing in Sydney

The public hearing of the Inquiry into Workplace Bullying will be held at

Parliament House, Macquarie Room, Macquarie Street

Tuesday 10 July 2012, 9:30am - 3:30pm
Program: (not available)

As noted in a previous post on this wwebsite

"The committee determines who shall be called to a hearing. The committee secretariat will contact witnesses to advise the date, time and place of a hearing.
An organisation called to give evidence generally can determine who will represent it at the hearing, although a committee may request specific office holders or individuals to attend. Organisations should ensure that they send to the hearing witnesses who have appropriate knowledge of the issues before the committee.
It is helpful if organisations advise the committee secretary as soon as possible after being called to a hearing of the names of the people who will attend
Those who decline the committee's invitation to attend a hearing can be summoned to appear if the committee considers the circumstances warrant such action."

For additional information go to this website

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

NTEU submits report

The NTEU UNSW has submitted a comprehensive report to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on workplace bullying.

The complete report can be accessed via their website.

OOPS! They forgot Canberra

The Workplace Bullying review has just announced that there WILL BE a public hearing in Canberra after all.

No details have been provided yet on any of the public hearings.

Making a submission

Do you want to make a submission but are concerned about legal action being taken against you?
Do you want to make a submission but want to remain anonymous?
Do you want to make a confidential submission?

See the previous blog entitled Public Hearing.
  • Making a submission to the review is governed by parliamentary privilege - NO LEGAL ACTION can be taken against you for making a submission.
  • NO LEGAL ACTION can be taken against you if the review publishes your submission.
  • The public hearing is also governed by parliamentary privilege.
  • You can also request a confidential submission if you are concerned.
If you want to send in a submission anonymously, Steve Davies has set up a dropbox  - According to PS news, "Mr Davies said the information collected in the dropbox would be collated into a report to be presented to the House of Representatives Committee Inquiry into workplace bullying.
   He said the dropbox would be safe for people to disclose information as it was encrypted and the IP addresses of the sender was not recorded."

You can submit to this dropbox anonymously.  If you are making a submission to directly to the Standing Committee, Steve Davies also suggests that you send a copy to the dropbox.

Monday, June 18, 2012


We have had 45,000 visitors to our blog
There have been 144 posts.
We have had 676 comments posted on our blog
195 people have reported bullying at the University of Newcastle to our survey.

What an amazing response!

(What a pity this blog is about workplace bullying at the University of Newcastle - imagine how fantastic it would be if it was about DEALING with the bullies and the bullying culture) 

Public hearing

Here are some general details on the public hearings.

The committee determines who will be called to a hearing and they are contacted with details. An organisation called to the hearing can decide who will represent themselves.

"Those who decline the committee's invitation to attend a hearing can be summoned to appear if the committee considers the circumstances warrant such action".

"Examination of witnesses

Generally, witnesses are given an opportunity to make a short opening statement (preferably no more than five minutes). This can be used to clarify, amend or expand on points made in written submissions.
Questions then will be directed to witnesses through the Chair. The questions are designed to clarify aspects of written submissions and to seek views and information on the inquiry topic."

Parliamentary privilege

The public hearings are privileged.  That means that no legal action can be taken against the witness in relation to the evidence given during a hearing.  Also people who intimidate or threaten a witness may be punished.
"If before the hearing a witness considers that information to be provided by the witness or requested by the committee is confidential, the witness can request that the evidence be heard in camera. If the request is granted by the committee, the public and media will be excluded from the hearing".
These are general guidelines for public hearings - no specific details regarding the Workplace Bullying public hearings are available so far.

Saturday, June 16, 2012


The schedule of public hearings has been published.  No other details are known as yet. 
7 public hearings have been announced.   Note that Canberra is apparently "bully-free".

  • SYDNEY - Tuesday 10 July 2012 Venue - to be confirmed

  • MELBOURNE - Wednesday 11 July 2012

  • HOBART - Thursday 12 July 2012

  • DARWIN - Tuesday 17 July 2012

  • BRISBANE - Wednesday 18 July 2012

  • ADELAIDE - Tuesday 7 August 2012

  • PERTH - Wednesday 8 AUgust 2012
  • Victoria Police video on bullying

    Victoria Police have a video about bullying (school, workplace, wherever) which includes interviews with Brodei Panlock's parents and also Allem's parents.

    The message from the police on this video is that anyone in Victoria who is being bullied can report this to the police.

    Hopefully, the other states will move into the 21st century on the crime of bullying.

    Friday, June 15, 2012

    Universities and dissent

    In an unusual article, department chair and dean Rob Jenkins, discusses views on dissent in academia.

    He has observed three strategies most commonly used to deal with dissent.
    1. Punish or make examples of people who openly disagree with them (there are always ways to do this e.g. denial of legitimate requests, sudden appplication of previously ignored policies, etc).
    2. Ignore those who are dissenting - don't speakto them, don't respond to their emails, don't acknnowledge them i.e. act as if they don't exist.
    3. Try to win the dissenters over and bring them into the fold.  This can be done through bribery, placing them on "key" committees, etc.
    Jenkins says that all three of these fail.

    Jenkins states that the most effective way to deal with dissenters in an open-minded, inclusive and collaborative way.  The leader may make decisions that the dissenters approve of (because "dissidents are often right").  More importantly, dissidents feel that they have been heard and this views taken seriously.

    Senior management at the University of Newcastle take note: -
    "the very best leaders welcome a healthy dissent, because it keeps them honest and because they understand that, if no one is questioning what they’re doing, they’re probably not doing anything worthwhile".

    Report your experiences to the Review but perhaps don't hold your breath??

    Some reservations about the Review of Workplace Bullying by the House of Reps Standing Committee.

    Steve Davies in his blog has highlighted some methodological problems with the inquiry.
    • The time period to make submissions is relatively short, considering the complexity of what we are trying to report.
    • Re formal submissions: some people may be inexperienced in making submissions or may be too scared to do so.  Also what about the public hearings? no details have been given regarding this.
    • Communication - The lack of communication considering the huge cost of bullying on work and productivity.
    Davies suggests that the inquiry "should be conducted online for all to see" because workplace bullying is an organisational and social phenomenon.  He also suggests a post office box (e.g. a dropbox) for anonymous submissions.  Davies has set up a dropbox on his blog for anyone to use.

    Thursday, June 14, 2012

    Cutting down on student and union input to Council

    University of Newcastle has very quietly reduced student and union representation on the governing council of the Uni.  Once there were four.  Now there are two!
    What is the effect of this?  According to the article in the Herald,
    "The laws required a two-thirds majority vote to pass the move, meaning the votes of student and staff representatives were eclipsed by the votes of up to 15 other members."

    According to Bert Groen (NTEU acting president), "the problem is that other council members often have a business perspective and little or dated knowledge of the realities of universities".

    "Newcastle University Student Association president Heather Richards said it would be detrimental to student representation."

    "Cessnock MP Clayton Barr said students should have significant representation."
    "Greens MP John Kaye said the laws would hand universities to corporations."
    BUT ALL IS WELL - "The state government said the laws gave universities more flexibility."
    Is this "more flexibility" to bend decisions the way universities wants?

    Monday, June 11, 2012

    Opportunity to contribute to international survey on whistleblowing

    The University of Melbourne is conducting an international survey on whistleblowing.  Here is information about the study and also links to the questionnaire.

    "From May 2012, a research team led by Griffith University and The University of Melbourne is conducting the World Online Whistleblowing Survey. This is the first international survey testing public views about whistleblowing to be run online in multiple languages. Whistleblowing is when a person reveals inside information about serious wrongdoing within or by an organisation, to people or authorities who may be able to take action.

    The survey is collecting data to help answer questions about:
    • Attitudes to the value of whistleblowing
    • The impact of new technologies and social media on the role and nature of whistleblowing
    • Differences in attitudes to whistleblowing in different social or cultural contexts
    • Citizens’ propensity to ‘blow the whistle’ on wrongdoing, particularly to the media
    • Citizen preferences regarding how to blow the whistle on wrongdoing, including issues of anonymity, communication and trust when dealing with the media.
    The survey is part of an Australian Research Council Discovery project, Blowing Boldly: The Changing Roles, Avenues and Impacts of Public Interest Whistleblowing in the Era of Secure Online Technologies, being conducted by Professor A J Brown (Griffith University), Dr Suelette Dreyfus, Dr Simon Milton, Dr Rachelle Bosua and Dr Reeva Lederman (University of Melbourne) and Professor Marcia Miceli (Georgetown University).

    Answer the survey

    Anyone can answer the survey, anywhere in the world, provided they do so only once.
    The research team encourages as many people as possible to complete the survey – whether they think whistleblowing is good or bad. The survey is for everyone, not just whistleblowers.
    The survey takes between 15 and 20 minutes.
    Click here to complete the survey: https://whistleblowingsurvey.org/
    For more information about the Survey, download the project information sheet "

    If you want any further info or details, email researchers@whistleblowingsurvey.org

    In the interests of safety, please sit down before reading this!

    Nick Saunders has been appointed as an Officer of the Order of Australia in the Queen's birthday honours list.


    For distinguished service to medicine and to higher education through administration and clinical leadership roles and as a significant contributor to national academic and professional organisations.

    Should we tell the Queen about our experiences of his "leadership"?

    Thursday, June 7, 2012

    First media release re Review into Bullying in the Workplace

    The first medial release, dated 1st June 2012, has been released by the Standing Committee conducting the  review into bullying in the workplace. 

    The release states that "The Committee is interested in taking evidence on all forms of bullying in the workplace and is keen to hear about the perspectives and experiences of employees, parents and guardians of young employees and employers."

    The Chair of the Committee, Ms Amanda Rishworth, MP, states that ""Bulying has serious consequences for individuals and the wider community." 

    Some of the terms of reference for the inquiry are particularly relevant to the the students/ex-students and staff/ex-staff from the University of Newcastle:
    • prevalence of workplace bullying
    • experience of victims
    • role of workplace cultures in preventing and responding to bullying
    • the adequacy of existing education and support services to prevent and respond to workplace bullying.
    • whether  there are further opportuities to raise awareness of workplace bullying.

    Sunday, June 3, 2012

    Making a submission to the Workplace Bullying Enquiry

    "The Committee invites interested persons and organisations to make submissions addressing the terms of reference by Friday, 29 June 2012."

    The following information is copied from the House of Representatives Committee
    There is also an article on "Making a submission" on this website.

    The email address for submissions is workplacebullying.reps@aph.gov.au

    "Who can make a submission?
    Any individual or organisation can make a submission to a parliamentary committee.

    What should be in a submission?

    There is no prescribed form for a submission to a parliamentary committee. Submissions may be in the form of a letter, a short document or a substantial paper. They may include appendices and other supporting documents.
    Submissions should be prepared solely for the inquiry and should be relevant to the terms of reference. They may address all or a selection of the points outlined in the terms of reference. Submissions may contain facts, opinions, arguments and recommendations for action.
    It is helpful if submissions are prefaced by a brief summary of the main points.
    Supplementary submissions may be lodged during the course of an inquiry to provide additional information or comments on other evidence.

    Friday, June 1, 2012

    An Open Letter to Professor McMillen, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Newcastle

    Dear Caroline (you used our first names in your email to us so we will too)

    Thank you for your email about the Shaping Futures Scholarship Fund.  It may come as a surprise to you that many of us cannot help - why?  because we have been bullied out of our jobs and careers at the University of Newcastle and are no longer able to work.

    You speak about the "transformative power of education".  We agree with you on this - the problem is that we have seen senior staff at the University of Newcastle being "transformed" by their education to become power-hungry and colluding employees who use bullying, harassment and discrimination against anyone who reports dishonest and corrupt behaviour.

    Your email asks for funding for "inspirational students determined to follow their dreams against all odds".  Can staff and students who have been bullied out of the University apply for this funding? 

    Many of us were outstanding members of staff with good publication records and appreciative students.  We also wanted to follow our dreams and still do but now it is "against all odds":  Many of us are fighting against physical and psychological illness.  Some of us have considered suicide; for many of us the bullying we have experienced has destroyed our families and friends. 

    So, Caroline, thank you for your kind invitation but NO.

    "Best wishes"

    Vested interest??

    THE pay of the top 14 staff members at Newcastle University has been published in its annual report for the first time.  
    • Retired Vice Chancellor Nicholas Saunders, - $604,978
    • Chief financial officer - $263,290,
    • Professor Stephen Nicholas retired on December 31 as vice-chancellor business and law with post employment benefits of $125,192.
    • Professor Terry Lovat retired on March 31 last year as vice-chancellor Education and Arts with post employment benefits of $217,716.

    If you were earning that much, wouldn't you do everything possible to quash any mention of the B______ (Bullying) word!