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)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Isolated act - NOT bullying?

Slater & Gordon, the well-known Australian law firm, have included "Isolated acts" in their list of what is NOT bullying.  Their website states:-

"Isolated acts. If you are subject to a single incident of unreasonable behaviour, it’s unlikely to be classified bullying. Addressing the behaviour before it is repeated is the best way to manage the situation; conflict in the workplace can progress to bullying if left unchecked."

The notion of isolated acts requires some consideration.  Our experience at the University of Newcastle is that  there may be many isolated acts that combine together into bullying.  For example, you speak out about staff misconduct/unethical behaviour - you are ostracised by one of your colleagues, then the next, then the next.  Then any complaint you make to the Head of School gets no response.  Then individuals throughout the uni in various relevant positions (e.g. PVC of the Faculty, DVC of Academia, Head of Human Resources, Vice-Chancellor) all individually decide to ignore/ostracise/not respond to you. 
These are all individual acts but they combine into a culture of bullying.  These individual acts become even more powerful as bullying because it is no longer one person who bullies you - all the individual parts of the bullying machine collude and combine together into a ruthless mechanism of destroying anyone who steps out of line (i.e. anyone who behaves ethically in the face of unethical behaviour). 

Surely all the individual acts of bullying (such as at this University) combine into an even more destructive and hazardous form of bullying and make reporting/complaining about the bulying behaviour even more impossible.  You have to take on the whole university machine, not just one person who has repeatedly bullied you.

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