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.

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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, August 22, 2012

Make up your own mind!

According to Gerard Phillips in the Australian Financial Review, "bullying laws are a threat to workplace".

He states that
"Probably the most telling argument against legislative intervention is definitional".  He gives examples of "bullying":-
  • "criticism by a superior about work presented"
  • "giving of directions or merely disagreeing with the subordinate"
He goes on to say that bullying is highly subjective and "very much in the eye of the beholder".

His answer to bullying is to "remove the incentive to create disputation" and 
"reset the rules at the workplace so that staff understand that their role is to 
facilitate the workplace and not to frustrate managerial prerogative".

According to him, legislation against bullying will "cause absolute mayhem 
in the workplace".
We invite Mr Phillips, who states he is a partner at the national law firm 
Middletons, to read the three submissions  published (see here nos. 8, 25 
and 53) about the experiences of three ex-academics from the University 
of Newcastle.  

Tell us, Mr Phillips, 
  • how you would describe the experiences of these three academics ?
  • are their experiences merely "in the eye of the beholder"?
  • are their experiences merely "subjective"?
We look forward to hearing from you.


  1. Mr Gerard Phillips takes such a simplistic and dismissive view to the bullying solution. To excuse questionable, corrosive managerial behaviour as appropriate under the guise of managerial prerogative is shameful. Blame the employee, never the employer just worsens the problem.

    If ethical employees are ousted simply because of the dubious or negligible protection given by managerial prerogative, we have little to gloat about how well things are going in society.

    Codes of Conduct and policies offer poor protection if no legal repercussions exist. They are too easy to gloss over in the name of managerial prerogative and it's far too easy to underplay or deny there is a bullying problem in the first place. Wake up from your safe and secure slumber!

    For Mr Phillips, power and wealth in our economy seemingly rate far higher than the welfare of people. When one is sitting in the 'box' seat and not being threatened with losing one's career, things are are not what they seem and can be easily distorted.

    Obviously the 'learned' Mr Phillips does not want to acknowledge the consequences of unbridled workplace bullying - loss of health, income, career, family and purpose in life apparently don't rate. The real problem is obviously 'too hard' to solve when the economy must survive and thrive.

    Just play bullying down or dismiss it altogether by claiming sufficient protection exists for all and hope the problem fades away like bad weather.

    How unrealistic and short-sighted to claim such an impoverished solution to the bullying problem and hope it disappears like the incidence of repetitive stress syndrome.

    Dispense with people who try as they might to withstand managerial prerogative and fail when legal protection is sadly lacking. That is a shocking solution to bullying and is not part of a ethical, civilised society we deserve to protect.

  2. It's the sort of garbage that can only come from the mouths of the UoN bullies such as Scott Holmes.

  3. Well I think Mr Phillips ist right about what he's saying and I hope his message will reach even more people out there.

  4. What what you are saying!

    The next victim could be your wife/husband/son/daughter....