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, September 29, 2012

Post traumatic stress disorder and workplace bullying

In a recent poll by the Workplace Bullying Institute, 30% of respondents (1,000) had been diagnosed as having Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

PTSD symptoms include
  1. Recurrent and intrusive distressing recollections of the event, including images, thoughts, or perceptions. 
  2. Recurrent distressing dreams of the event.
  3. Acting or feeling as if the traumatic event were recurring (includes a sense of reliving the experience, illusions, hallucinations, and dissociative flashback episodes,including those that occur upon awakening or when intoxicated).
  4. Intense psychological distress at exposure to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event.
  5. Physiologic reactivity upon exposure to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event.
  1. Efforts to avoid thoughts, feelings, or conversations associated with the trauma
  2. Efforts to avoid activities, places, or people that arouse recollections of the trauma
  3. Markedly diminished interest or participation in significant activities
  4. Feeling of detachment or estrangement from others
  5. Restricted range of affect (e.g., unable to have loving feelings)
  6. Sense of foreshortened future (e.g., does not expect to have a career, marriage, children, or a normal life span)
  1. Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  2. Irritability or outbursts of anger
  3. Difficulty concentrating
  4. Hyper-vigilance
  5. Exaggerated startle response.
Many of the respondents to our survey reported at least some of these symptoms.  We did not include a question regarding PTSD but there are a number of us who have been diagnosed as having PTSD.
In Australia, PTSD seen in workplace bullying victims has been likened to those soldiers who fought in the Vietnam or Korean wars.  The difference for those of us with PTSD following the bullying at the University of Newcastle is that the bullying continues.  We remain isolated, ostracised, shunned by previous colleagues, etc.  This does not stop just because we have been bullied out of the uni.  For us, the trauma continues on and on.


  1. My workplace at the UoN was a perpetual warzone.

  2. One particular senior manager's bulling tactics have haunted me day and night.

  3. We wish we'd had a bullying-free workplace so we'd had nothing to do with stress. Alas.....

  4. Work should not be a Warzone with no protection from bullying and stress. What peaceful weapons are currently available in the workplace to protect us? Nil, if they are only written on paper and not acted upon.

    No wonder bullies thrive and use people as playthings to discard when they are looking for new toys to amuse themselves. Disgusting!

  5. the new VC is a master who might protect you from bullying at your workplace in UoN. Or learn something such as boxing or KongFu, to build up your muscle and help yourself.In turn, you might help your VC.

  6. The new VC is either completely hoodwinked by the gatekeepers and the PVCs and HoSs she trusts or she is a totally with them.

    From several statements she made in public, including her "vision" for the Uni, we know she has little grasp of what's going on. In one particular case, she's repeated the lies fed to her by the PVC of a particular faculty in whom she has full trust.

  7. Workplace bullying is a destructive phenomenon because even though an individual has a different job, new manager and colleagues and in theory should be in a psychologically safe place, it doesn't take much for the same symptoms to raise their ugly head. In my case, bullying & harrassment seriously destroyed my capacity to have relationships based on trust and confidence in the workplace. I have found it is important to have time to recover from any emotional distress and if possible find someone I trust, just to sit with me. This person doesn't necessarily have to do anything, just be present.
    I just feel so disappointed that B & H behaviour can exist and management not act in a timely and decisive manner when the org. policy and procedure is so clear that it will not be tolerated.
    I want to feel disillusioned without feeling guilty because the HR consultant said the organisation can no longer protect me from this happening again; the best thing for your health and wellbeing is to take a transfer. I have just become another victim/target who has moved instead of the perpetrator. It sucks this is the case.
    In short, organizations are places where (1)B & H occurs (2) unsupportive responses are provided (3)subjective experiences occur (4) work is hazardous to your health.
    Bring on the national legislation on workplace bullying!