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)

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.

How to lodge a submission

Submissions should be sent to the secretary of the relevant committee, House of Representatives, PO Box 6021, Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600. Individual committee addresses are contained in inquiry advertisements and are available on the Australian Parliament's website. Submissions may be in hard copy (written or printed) form, or can be made by email.
The author must sign a written submission either on his or her own behalf or on behalf of the organisation making the submission.
Those signing on behalf of an organisation should indicate the level at which the submission has been authorised (eg President, Chief Executive, Secretary).
A return address for correspondence and a contact telephone number should be provided with the submission. Submissions forwarded by email must include the name, postal address and phone number of the person or organisation making the submission.
Submissions should be lodged by the advertised closing date. An extension of time, if required, can be requested from the committee secretary.
Where possible, hard copy submissions should be typed on A4 paper. This helps with reproduction of the submission. Where typing facilities are not available, hand written submissions are acceptable, but care should be taken to ensure that they are legible and suitable for photocopying.
It is helpful if each hard copy submission is sent with an electronic version on disk or CD-ROM, preferably in Microsoft Word® or Portable Document Format (PDF). This assists committees with publishing submissions on the Parliament’s website.

Publication of submissions

Once a submission is received by a committee, it cannot be withdrawn or altered without the committee’s permission; nor can it be published or disclosed to any other person unless or until the committee has authorised its publication.
On receipt of a submission, a committee decides whether to accept the submission and authorise its publication. Copies of submissions authorised for publication are usually available from the Parliament’s website. Hard copies of the submission can be requested from the committee secretariat.
An author of a submission can request that all or part of the submission should remain confidential. This should be indicated clearly in the front of the submission. You could also consider presenting any confidential information in an appendix to the submission to allow the body of the submission to be published.
The committee will consider individual requests for confidentiality, but retains the authority to publish any submission.

Parliamentary privilege

The presentation or submission of a document to a committee is privileged. Essentially this means that a person is immune from legal action in respect of lodging the submission or any statements contained in it. If a submission is authorised for publication, its distribution also is immune from legal action.

Inquiry evidence

The evidence on which a parliamentary committee bases its findings includes the written submissions it receives and the oral evidence taken at hearings. Those making submissions may be asked to appear before the committee at a public or closed (in camera) hearing (see also the pamphlet Appearing at a public hearing ).

Inquiry process at a glance

The inquiry process may vary from inquiry to inquiry as circumstances demand but usually consists of the following steps.
  1. Reference received by the committee.
  2. Reference advertised through various media, and submissions sought from individuals and organisations.
  3. Submissions received and authorised for publication.
  4. Committee conducts on-site inspections, background briefing and seminars (where appropriate).
  5. Committee conducts public hearings with selected individuals and organisations requested to give oral evidence.
  6. Committee considers evidence and prepares report.
  7. The report is presented to the Parliament and may be debated.
  8. Copies of the report are made available through various means including through the national and state libraries and publication on the Parliament’s website.
  9. Government considers report.
  10. Government responds to report by presenting response in the Parliament.
Submission checklist

Before lodging your submission you may find it helpful to consider the following checklist:
·    Have I commented on some or all of the terms of reference?
·    Have I provided a summary of the submission at the front (for lengthy submissions)?
·    Have I provided my return address and contact details with the submission?
·    If the submission contains confidential information, have I made this clear at the front?
·    Have I provided an electronic version of the submission (if possible)?
Further Information
Further information can be sought from the secretary of the committee conducting the particular inquiry or from:
Clerk Assistant (Committees)
Phone: (02) 6277 4397
Fax: (02) 6277 4034
email: committee.reps@aph.gov.au   "(emphasis added)

For the Terms of Reference, see the website given above or the earlier post on this blog.

Note that parliamentary privilege operates on submissions - therefore, even if you have been gagged by the uni (we know this has happened frequently), you can make a submission and you are immune from legal action, even if your submission is published.

This is an important opportunity for the 185+ people who have reported to us that they have been bullied at the University of Newcastle.


  1. After many years and many letters to Ombudsman, local and federal MPs knowing that there is going to be an inquiry into Workplace bullying is so empowering.
    The University of Newcastle made me invisible and voiceless, but I can now speak out about the atrocious and punitive punishment inflicted on me following my allegation of bullying.
    In the same way that you terrorised me - bullies I hope that you are now feeling worried about the potential consequences of this inquiry!!

  2. My observations make me believe there are two common things that occur when the University of Newcastle participate in investigations –

    1. When current management is questioned about an incident it is common for them to claim that they either where not aware of what occurred as they were not in their position at the time, or that simply, it was all caused by the previous manager/s....who usually has/have discretely left the Uni.
    2. When people involved are asked about incidents a common response is that they "cannot recall".

    This time things will be different -

    (1) To the current VC - I know you are new in your position, but don't try and deny you have no idea what has happened, or that you have no part in it - I remind you of my request that you act on the University policy in respect to bullying....

    "The Workers Compensation Commission, as an independent investigative body, has determined that the University of Newcastle is solely responsible for my permanent and persistent psychological injury. The behaviour of individuals in respect to my treatment is a breach of Policy #000941 Diversity and Inclusiveness Policy.

    I request that you undertake immediate disciplinary action against those involved in my case. "

    In not acting on University policy (in fact just ignoring my request) it suggests to me that you simply must condone bullying behaviour....not dissimilar to what my observations were of previous management. It also suggests to me you are implicitly involved in the workplace bullying at the University by not doing anything....so don't even try and hide under a rock and pretend you know nothing about what is happening.

    2. Many people who are called into an investigation may try and use the "I do not recall" statement....but the best thing about this blog site is that it has bought so many people together who have been bullied by the same people, using the same tactics....so look out to the managers who have played a pivotal role in bullying SO MANY of us out of our careers, and destroyed our lives....because you may "not recall" what has occurred...but there is enough people now who do recall and will speak out and give names, examples, dates etc.

    These people WHO WILL provide submissions to the review have already experienced because of bullying -

    lost careers and livelihoods
    destroyed families and relationships
    psychological and physical injury
    attempts have them gaged
    the covering up of the truth
    the University’s unlimited resources to get rid of people they do not want and protect those they do
    threats of FEDERAL POLICE involvement….

    - and these people have not walked away from their one goal – that is to stop bullying…..to make it illegal…..and to make bullies be answerable under criminal law.

  3. To the notorious bullies of the Faculty of Education and Arts, There will be many submissions to the parliamentary inquiry exposing the bullying of certain academic staff, no matter how many workshops and policy documents you are rolling out right now. It will not save your reputation or career. I'd go into hiding if I were you. I know you must be busy destroying evidence of your bullying. We will get you for the sake of innocent people and in the good of this community that we call ours. Stay tuned!

  4. A Call to Fellow Sufferers of Bullying

    Dear Comrades, Let's unite to end our suffering with written submissions to the parliamentary inquiry. Let's tell the government what is happening here. Let's contribute to making the UoN and the whole of Australia free of bullying. This university and this country deserve better. The deadline is June 29. We have no time to lose.

  5. I have to admit to being very enthusiastic about this review and the opportunity to submit an account of my bullying at the hands of the University of Newcastle. I have now decided that what I really want is REVENGE - I want the bullies to suffer like I have. I want them also to not be able to work in their profession, to not being able to do research, to not being able to do clinical work, to lose friends, to lose your physical and mental health, to be ostracised by msot of the people you once knew, to spend days crying and wondering if you can even be bothered to live for another hour if this is what happens if you report misconduct.

    Why should they rise ever higher, receive more accolades, go to conferences, do research, keep their "friends", have colleagues who support them (even if the colleagues were groomed), be able to contribute to the field that you are passionate about and the field you can make a contribution to.

    I do not want power, I do not want money - I just want the chance to make a contribution to the field that I love. Is it surprising that I want REVENGE against those people at the University of Newcastle who have stopped me doing that. I do want REVENGE, REVENGE in big bright letters. REVENGE against those people who stopped me making a contribution to people with disabilities. How dare they do that and continue to rise and rise and get rid of anyone who behaves in an ethical manner! Surely life cannot be this unfair!

  6. Thrown out of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences for exposing misconductJune 7, 2012 at 4:11 PM

    How come John Germov's old school, The School of Humanities and Social Sciences, is one of the few (or only) to have a "SCHOOL WELLNESS PROGRAM"

    Is this because it has the greatest need of such a progam because of all the bullying and harassment that heppens there?

    1. Thrown out of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences for exposing misconduct June 7, 2012 4:11 PM,

      I share your view. I got thrown out of that school too for no good reason and I know how many people are stressed and terrified there. Fear and apathy rule that place. We think you should let the parliamentary inquiry take care of that school and that university by telling them what happened to you. Your suffering must not happen for nothing. We are loyal citizens of this country and we must help make this country free of bullying in the workplace, particularly in universities which are in charge of educating our young. I don't want my children to be educated in an institution where their mother's career was destroyed by her colleagues because of jealousy and other sorts of unspeakable motives.

    2. Don't be concerned. Yours are not the only faculties and schools affected. In another particular faculty, bullying occurs as mobbing. This is much more effective. Many hands make light work. Or rather, many hands make it more justifiable and less likely associated with guilt. I like this. Then, even better, is the ability to blame the victim. What is common among the mobbers? All incompetent in their areas, low, well deserved, self esteems. Have been reading up on this to try to understand this behaviour. Essentially high achieving targets tend to be selected to mob. Why? No high achievers mean no need to keep the standard high. As simple as that. I am rather insulted that the head of school had the brain capacity to instigate such behaviour. To be commended on your outstanding leadership skills!

    3. Anonymous June 13, 2012 10:59 PM,

      You are spot on. Mobbing is the most effective weapon in the hands of bullies and I've been a victim of that for years. They operate like a pack of wolves against one lone individual and that legitimises their group behaviour. Quite honestly, they are so weak and inept as individuals so they need the help of fellow no-hopers to get their "meals". That's where the tragedy lies: institution of higher learning are believed to be staffed by highly qualified and talented individuals, but when you actually look at the sort of people that are there, you begin to wonder why this prevalent malaise, which has reached plague proportions. Are they really what they are made out to be?? They have to be pretty desperate to resort to tactics of bullying to justify their existence.

      And the government? What are they doing about it? They should withdraw funding from institutions that turn a blind eye to bullying. Let's support this inquiry by giving our experiences of bullying to them to make this uni worthy of our tax-payers money.

    4. Hearing you loud and clear. It is still happening at the University. Management sit back and watch and think up ways to blame the victim to protect the university from major law suits. In saying that, I am sure the law suits would be a lot of fun for management. They are so used to wasting funds, who not continue the wastage to cover up further their genuine insecurities. Quite a pathetic state of affairs. If you read up on the topic of mobbing, it is compared to the brutality of genocide. Those who mob, particularly the instigator, become very secretive with their behaviours to make it easier to engage in abusive behaviours without accountability. HR and management need to be better informed about what mobbing is and how it is occurring at the university. They need to step in early and stop it. It is costing to both employees, not only the targeted employee, as well as the institution. Mobbing is considered a vicious form of abuse.

    5. Anonymous June 14, 2012 9:47 PM, You make great points, but you miss one crucial one here: HR and Management, by protecting the bullies and the secretive bullying deals, are actively part of the mobbing of victims. Damn it!

      They are awash with money and they will never hesitate spending it to further crush their victims.

      The consequences are horrendous for the institution and society at large. I have seen with my own eyes how the young ones, fresh out of their PhDs, turn into bullies within less than a year of joining the staff, some having been bullied themselves. It's funny how they get all the "right cues" from the instigator, often the HoS and the deputies eager for a promotion to be part of the mobbing and they are even more effective because they are the ones you least suspect. It's pathetic, but how this vicious cycle works here.

      I swear I will never allow any of my children to become uni academics. I don't want them to become monsters or to be mauled by the monsters.

      Stay tuned.

  7. It is understandable that there is so much anger out there. This inquiry is about being able to speak out in a public forum about our experiences.
    It is pretty amazing (but I shouldn't be amazed) that so many of us experienced victimisation and loss of our careers following our attempts to expose misconduct at the Uni.

    The entrenched systemic culture of bullying plus the punishment of all those that demonstrate integrity must be noted in our submissions.
    For me this is not so much about REVENGE, not even about getting justice for what happened to me, but about exposing the injustices that occurs at the UoN.
    I will be describing the inhumane way that I was treated and unfortunately continues towards others who are brave enough to stand up and say 'this is wrong'.
    Bullying for the victim is soul-destroying that generally results falling into a bottomless pit, but for the bullies at UoN it represents a ladder to success. This is the injustice that we must expose.