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 14, 2013

Initial report into CSIRO bullying

An independent inquiry into workplace bullying at Australian scientific institution the CSIRO may lead to the creation of a specialist misconduct unit to investigate "significant interpersonal misconduct and issues relating to scientific integrity".

The inquiry, run by former Commonwealth ombudsman Dennis Pearce, has released a first-phase report which has found "no major problem of workplace bullying", but identified what it described as "pockets of concern", shortcomings in CSIRO procedures and cases in which "common sense and empathy are lacking".

Emeritus Professor Pearce has issued the CSIRO with 34 recommendations, which focus on a change in the way in which complaints by staff are managed. In particular, it urges the organisation to investigate the misconduct of the perpetrator rather than the grievance of the victim.

It also recommends that its enforcement of the code of conduct be more "consistent", and "the same intolerance of proscribed conduct [is applied] no matter the level at which it occurs, the 'personalities' involved or the work area".

The inquiry received 110 submissions relating to 130 discrete allegations. During the next phase of the inquiry, some of these will be investigated in detail.

But those allegations made by staff will be dealt with the same policies that are now the subject of Pearce's criticisms, though he makes it clear that in these cases "we have made specific recommendations to CSIRO . . . as to the manner in which their concerns should be dealt with".

"Although the report finds the principal problem at the organisation was the manner in which it dealt with complaints, it does say that these procedures may have masked a wider issue with workplace misconduct.

"The application of the procedures for dealing with workplace bullying and other unreasonable behaviour has not been satisfactory," the report says.

"While we do not think it to be the case, it is possible that these procedural issues have served to mask a more significant incidence of workplace bullying than the evidence to us reveals. We make recommendations as to the way in which allegations of bullying and other unreasonable behaviour should be managed and we suggest that these recommendations need prompt attention by CSIRO."

The poor handling of complaints was such that the inquiry is actively considering whether the CSIRO needs a permanent workplace investigations unit, such as those that exist in other large organisations such as the Australian Federal Police and the Department of Defence." (emphasis added).

If these recommendations had been in place at the University of Newcastle, this blog would be redundant.

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