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 –

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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)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

McConkey is on his way.......

The rumours are true - Professor McConkey is leaving the University of Newcastle at the end of October.

As expected, Caroline McMillen has given him a glowing tribute - "major improvements", "successful audit", "more opportunities", "significantly strengthened", "overseen the growth", "stronger connections", "strength to strength", "significantly expanded, "significant contribution",  and
"Professor McConkey’s commitment to the University and our community has had a major impact and he leaves a strong legacy. On behalf of the University I acknowledge his significant contribution, thank him most sincerely for his service and wish him well for the future."

McConkey's salary was huge ($415,000 p.a. in 2010) and he has presumably now also received a large payout.

As PVC Academic, Kevin McConkey has been named as being implicated in numerous cases of bullying reported in our survey, on this website or in submissions to the Parliamentary Workplace Bullying Inquiry.  

McConkey was also extremely involved in allowing the university to receive an "Employer of Choice for Women" citation.  As most of us who have been bullied are female, this was particularly difficult to accept.

Again, Professor McMillen, you have the opportunity to investigate the cases of bullying at the university in a thorough manner and to be prepared to face many of us who have been bullied at the University under the management of Kevin McConkey and Nick Saunders.  

"Silence implies consent".


  1. The reason why the only female DVC has been on workcover stress leave for two years says a lot about McConkey's relationship with his own colleagues.

    By the way, this is not a rumour. A senior manager admitted the level of conflict at the top level of management in a public forum.

    We also wonder why McMillen has not invited this highly respected female DVC (services) back to do the good work she's always done for the University. Students and staff at the UoN deserve to be served by capable and loyal leaders.

  2. What's your next station Kev? Can we help?

    We've all been out of of jobs because of your "achievements" and we specialise in writing job applications and CVs. But we only help people who have made a real difference to their former places of work, not someone who's wrecked other people's lives to achieve his own "goals".

  3. A dishonourable discharge is all he deserves.

  4. What an anti-climax!

  5. I thought the super salesman of the UoN would have "achieved" more sales before he leaves.

    Someone must have bound his hands.

  6. Ex-academic staff - University of NewcastleSeptember 26, 2012 at 8:59 AM

    My formal complaint to the Uni found that "nothing" had happened, despite the fact that I was instantly removed from my job and ostracised by academic and professional colleagues (no reason ever given). In a meeting with McConkey, he said he couldn't do anything because he was bound by policy! Second in command of the University and he could not do anything to stop the ongoing bullying!

    1. We a lot of ex-students of this University had come to McConkey for some unacceptable issues (ie quality of teaching and examining) while we were studying there.
      He always ignored our complaints by saying I was busy on some important things.
      Here is an interesting story in this University that a lecturer was promoted to associate professor but whithout any publications from the time the lecturer moved in to the time promoted.
      How was the lecturer promoted without any publications? Any things related to the quality of academic promotion?

    2. If as DVC academic affairs he wasn't dealing with students complaints about academic issues because he was too busy, one wonders what he was busy with, considering he was also in charge of the uni's teaching and learning centre, having been appointed to the job on the "strength" of his being in the Australian tertiary quality audit "business".

      We would like to know what sort of business he actually did during his tenure at the uni.

    3. Build up his kingdom for sure! with some his favour fellow "friends" or "brothers"

    4. Hey, have a look here, Professor McConkey did something.


      He did something for us!!!

  7. KH former geography academicSeptember 26, 2012 at 11:30 AM

    Wow!! I had exactly the same experience at the UoN. I was removed from my academic position because those that I claimed had bullied me refused to go to mediation.

    2 years after enforced professional and social isolation I asked for Professor McKonkey to assist me to arrange a meeting to bring closure and resume a professional relationship with my discipline I was informed by him that 'some problems cannot be resolved'. This was after the chief bully had left the University. Hence my belief that I was punished and lost my career because I had made a formal complaint of bullying.

    so much for McKonkey's so called advancement of females!!!!

    1. you know why my friend? you came to a wrong person.

      do you like reading some books about Mafia or brotherhood? there were some famous words:

      A country has its law to pretect the people while he needs them. Don has his own rules,

  8. I am looking at my piece of paper signed by McConkey certifying my graduation from his trademark Senior Academic Women in Leadership program.

    While I've been bullied out of my job, many of my senior colleagues (including one quite junior at the time) who bullied me and played a vital part in my demise have been promoted by the academic promotions committee chaired by McConkey.

    I still don't know what my crime was.

  9. Whoops, you guys have demoted McConkey. He was the all-powerful DVC in charge of academic appointments, promotions and sackings, all the cash cows such as the language centre and pre-tertiary training programs (which have been sold to a private provider!), the library and information system as well as the lucrative global relations operations with all the money from overseas students.

    Can't think of any other university anywhere that puts so much power into one person's hands.

    1. It is a wrong thought that the University puts so much power into one person. You should think this in a different way, he sought to get so powerful and high level to do something then very easily.
      Nobody could touch on him and what he did in his kingdom.

  10. Caroline, positive reinforcement is what you do with children and students, not with hard core bullies.

    You know exactly what to do with bullies in order to take the university forward.

  11. How come the media and public opinion are so vastly different from the VC's verdict about this topic?


    This is an exciting time to join the University of Newcastle.

    The Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Caroline McMillen, and UON staff are committed to building on the University’s strong record of achievement in equity, excellence and engagement to realise the ambitious agenda articulated in the UON 2025 Vision.

    The newly created position of Deputy Vice-Chancellor (International and Advancement) will be instrumental in achieving our ambitious goals. As a member of the senior executive team, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (International and Advancement) will provide strategic, innovative and accountable leadership to position the University in: internationalisation; international recruitment and partnerships; and engagement with alumni,friends and benefactors of the University.

    Potential candidates will have deep experience and developed networks within international higher education, a thorough understanding of international student recruitment, research and partnerships and the student life cycle which builds tomorrow’s communities.

    Exceptional communication skills will be essential to build and sustain successful relationships in the industry, government, community and diplomatic spheres where the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (International and Advancement) will be a senior University representative.

    The successful candidate will have an outstanding track record as a senior leader and manager in higher education, have the skills to develop evidence-based strategies and policies, and deliver world class results.

    We seek an energetic and inspirational leader, capable of promoting a culture of excellence and innovation, and of working collaboratively with staff and students.

    An attractive remuneration package will be offered.

    Initial enquiries, in confidence, should be made to Dr Jim Sait at Braithwaite Steiner Pretty:
    tel +61 2 8904 1532 or email UNewcDVCIA@bspes.com

    An information booklet containing selection criteria will be provided to interested applicants.

    Applications close: 7 November 2012

    UON 2025 Vision

    The University of Newcastle aspires to be a global leader in each of its spheres of achievement.

    Through engagement with partners, the University will deliver world class innovation to support the development of strong regional communities.

    1. How can you convince us you are different from McConkey?

      If something happened while McConkey was there, can you cure it?

    2. While Nick Sanuders was there, but he didn't cure anything and a lot happened.

  13. Prof. McMillen should have a look on some of the social media to find out what McConkey's "achievements" mean for UoN students.

  14. Hi Kev,

    Was it all worth it?

    I mean all your painstaking efforts to get to where you are.

  15. We are curious as to why all three UoN academics (all women in senior positions) who made a submission (there are more to come) to the federal government inquiry into workplace bullying were all bullied out when McConkey was DVC (academic and global relations) busy with initiatives such as the "leadership training workshop for senior women" and was aware of all three cases which involve the women's reporting of academic misconduct such as plagiarism. Was this just a coincidence?!

    See submissions no. 8, 25 and 53 on parliamentary website for instances and the extent of workplace bullying at the UoN.

  16. Kevin McConkey has apparently invited the participants of his "academic women in leadership" program to drinks on November 6. Well done Kevin.

    We are sure the women you promoted will congratulate you very sincerely on your "achievements" which paid healthy dividends for them. They will make you feel loved and warm and runny inside.

    We know you need that at this very special moment of your unique life.

  17. "It would seem as though history had first to make this whole people drunk before it could rouse them out of their hereditary stupidity." Karl Marx (1853)

  18. "Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains to bring it to light"
    George Washington

  19. "So I never doubted that ultimately we were going to be free, because ultimately, I knew there was no way in which a lie could prevail over the truth, darkness over light....."
    Desmond Tutu- Peace Foundation

  20. Bullies have a 'bulldozer' mentality that obviously comes so naturally to them. They continue to thrive and wreck havoc by destroying good people. People are their playthings - there for their amusement. This is especially the case when bullies are able to thrive unchecked. Legislation dismally fails to protect good people.

    So much for a civilised society! Bullies should be on the scrapheap not good people.

    A gigantic turnaround is needed to stamp out bullying behaviour and return the good people to their rightful positions in society.

  21. That f* bastard bullied me and many others at UNSW. I have never fully recovered.