"Defamation is primarily a civil action that allows a person whose reputation has been harmed by way of publication of materials, by words, or by any other means, to sue those responsible." (UTS Law Centre)
Firstly the material must have been published - under the Act, published means that it has been communicated to someone other than the person concerned. Also communication means oral, written (including the internet) or by conduct (e.g. gestures).
Secondly, the person must have been identified by that publication. This does not only mean that you have to be named - if enough information is given to identify the person concerned, that is enough (e.g. giving details of your position at the University and what section/school/faculty).
Thirdly, the material that is communicated must be defamatory. Material is defamatory if it
- exposes a person to ridicule, or
- lowers the person's reputation in the eyes of members of the community, or
- causes people to shun or avoid the person, or
- injures the person's reputation in business, trade or profession.(UTS Law Centre)
45% of respondents to our survey (i.e. 88 individuals from the University of Newcastle) reported that gossip and rumours had been spread about them. For some, these rumours were spread within their immediate working environment; for others they were spread further within the University. For some, the gossip and rumours were communicated to individuals at other Universities, resulting in these individuals being blacklisted and unable to find other employment.