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)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Just who needs to grow up?

In an article in The Australian, the following was reported

  • "workplace is increasingly subjected to the emotional standards formerly associated with the playground".
  • UK sociology professor Frank Furedi says "virtually every challenging and unhappy experience can be rebranded as bullying".
  • "The diagnosing of assertive management styles, plain speaking, undiplomatic behaviour, sarcasm or normal bitchiness as claims for legal intervention and for financial resources implies adults possess the emotional and moral resources formerly associated with children".
We cannot speak for UNSW but we can report what has happened at the University of Newcastle.

Here are some "challenging and unhappy experiences" reported in our survey which apparently are not bullying:-  
  • items stolen from locked offices
  • access to offices during working hours not allowed
  • a survey of colleagues' attitudes to a member of staff
  • refused access to research data from government-funded grant for over 3 months
  • being hit for not signing a document before reading it
  • sexual harassment
  • loss of research funding
  • blocking of promotion
  • leave refused
  • supervisors reporting other' work as own
  • exclusion, ostracism, isolation and blacklisting
  • being physically injured
  • discrimination based on race, sexual orientation
  • being ridiculed openly in meetings for following university policy
  • being told you will fail in front of your fellow students.
Is this the type of childish behaviour that Furedi and Morris do not consider to be bullying?
Many respondents (ALL ADULTS) to our survey suffered serious health and other issues from the bullying (including 45 who had considered committing suicide).

Silly us, we obviously only "possess the emotional and moral resources formerly associated with children".


  1. The biggest worry is that these bullying "infants" have all been promoted to Professors, Associate Professors, etc.

    God help higher education!

  2. VERY VERY VERY ADULTJuly 20, 2012 at 4:35 PM

    The (so-called adult) professor and her (so-called adult) academic colleagues acted just as little girls do in the playground - by ostracising me from my work, my workplace, my research colleagues, by denying me access to my research and to my office, by denying me access to information, by blacklisting me with all my previous colleagues at other universities, by stealing from my private locked office, by blacklisting me so that I am unable to work in my profession.

    It is the bullies who need to grow up - they obviously possess the "emotional and moral resources formerly associated with children".

    By their standards, we victims are EXTREMELY ADULT!

  3. VERY VERY VERY ADULT July 20, 2012 4:35 PM

    I had the same lousy luck as you did and all I can say is that an institution where that sort of monstrous executive/professional mobbing thrives will eat itself up sooner or later.

    They will not grow up; they will grow the most lethal cancers. God willing!

    I have to congratulate you on being bullied out of that place because my own experience there tells me that if you are ethical, scholarly and civil, you will be bullied out, or you become one of them, which you clearly didn't do.

    I was told many times by the "veterans" there "if you can't beat them, join them." I refused to join them and I wouldn't stoop to their levels by beating them, so I got bullied out. Damn it.

    I just feel sorry for the poor students.

  4. former geography academic at UoNJuly 21, 2012 at 2:49 PM

    Dear Frank you would make an excellent candidate for a senior management position at the University of Newcastle.
    Notwithstanding that you cannot distinquish between workplace personality conflict with long term deliberate and insidious bullying. More significantly, you also believe that the victims are the problem rather than the perpetuators of bullying.
    To gain an insight into the true nature of bullying within the workplace I urge you to read the current submissions. Maybe when more personal stories are available you will be prompted to write another article for The Australian revealing a more accurate account of who the 'adults' are within the workplace.