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)

Monday, November 25, 2013

RELAX! The University of Newcastle has "REFRESHED" its policies to stop bullying at UoN

THE VC, Caroline McMillen, has announced that

"At the University of Newcastle, we take your wellbeing seriously and we want to provide you with the best possible support so that you - and everyone - can work in a respectful environment that values diversity and inclusiveness.

This is why earlier this year the University refreshed its Promoting a Respectful and Collaborative University: Diversity and Inclusiveness Policy." (our emphasis)

The blurb continues using the standard marketing/PR language of "commitment", "robust framework", "treated with dignity and respect", "feel empowered", "actively contribute", "respectful and collaborative place for everyone" (Note to linguistics experts - good material for analysing advertising language here).

We applaud the UoN if it is really making an effort to clean up its workplace - hopefully it did more than just press the "refresh webpage" icon.  However, if these policies were "refreshed" earlier in the year,  WHY OH WHY are we continuing to be contacted by extremely distressed students and staff who are still being treated in the same way by the University as it has operated for years and years?


  1. I think she is self serving and delusional. Her anti bullying rhetoric goes for at least 7 long paragraphs yet someone serious would just write "This university does not tolerate bullying".

    With all due respect as a fellow academic I have to wonder why a simple refusal of bullying has to be worded over a page and a half and still be direct and serious.

    Is it satire?

  2. Promoting a Respectful and Collaborative University: Diversity and Inclusiveness Policy.

    Ok for starters the name of that policy is so large and wordy you would struggle to define it outright.

    Read the words, does the meaning of diversity and inclusiveness include bullying and racism because the policy would allow it.

    What definition of respect is collaborative and diverse?

    Is a collaborative university always a respectful one?

    Can you promote collaboration and inclusiveness as constants because some collaboration is made good on exclusion. Some inclusiveness involves rejection of some factors.

    I think this is a very vague and intentionally difficult to understand policy. It is designed to disarm the complainer of anything solid. The base contradiction of diversity and inclusion without anything to actually belong to is done on purpose. Those two words are hard to thread together meaningfully in one sentence.

  3. On bullying. A robust academic discussion.

    Caroline's letter to the Newcastle Herald is very similar to what is on the University blog but not identical. Some of the more inflammatory accusations of the public are tactfully redacted. Both versions are available on the internet for comparison.

    Again we see that engaging the University in a mature academic fashion is a waste of time. The two statements should be identical to carry any real authority. Tailoring evidence to suit the situation is not academic in the slightest. Academics value truth and a lack of false objectivity.

    These are reasons why people don't take the UoN seriously anymore. The use of advertising to sway public opinion without real fact is another anti-academic gesture. Remember for a long time in advertising Marlboro cigarettes were a valuable lifestyle accessory, Coca- cola doesn't make you fat or unhealthy, KFC is also a healthy food option, Proactiv will turn you into a budding star. A Ferrari will instantly make you into a film star charismatic ladies man. Fleur tampons will make you so free spirited you will not fear sky-diving....

    One of Caroline's assumptions is wrong. Part of this comment was drafted on a public bus (on which looking outside I managed to see the University logo over 10 times.) The rest was composed from the "comfort of my sofa" (some of the words not included in the Herald) before sending.

  4. You would think that if the University really took well being seriously they wouldn't be persecuting victims of crime. A dear friend of mine is currently being stalked by a staff member at the University. I won't mention her name because the University has gagged her from speaking about this ongoing situation and threatened disciplinary action if she complains about the individuals within the University who are protecting the stalker and putting her in danger. The only thing she would tell me is that she still fears for her safety.

    A quick read of the General Staff Enterprise Agreement for the University highlights the action that should have been taken once the Uni was made aware of the sexual harassment and stalking (suspension and investigation).


    Strangely, the Uni did not follow its own protocols, but chose to suspend the student/victim instead of dealing with the staff member.

    My friend won't talk about the case anymore, too scared she will be kicked out of Uni I assume, but I know she's suffering. Being stalked is scary enough, imagine then not being believed and punished by the institution you then go to for help.

    Similar cases have hit the press in the US, and witnessing the impact on my friend of these administrative persecutors, I wonder how long it will be before all this comes out in the open.


  5. A head of school there also showed postgraduates degrading hardcore pornography during probation yet was kept on and later given an achievement award by the University.

    The same head of school is a pathological liar and bully. He was also previously suspended for serious misconduct in Armidale yet the University have not bothered to run a proper background check.

    The University still won't claim any responsibility for this person's actions despite multiple complaints from both students and staff.

  6. See latest comments for this opinion piece from Caroline McMillion published in The Newcastle Herald last year:


  7. Please refer to the most recent comment of 4 January 2014 on Caroline McMillan's opinion piece(published by The Newcastle Herald in March 2013)

    I call for more people to write to the Herald's Editor and Publisher asking for a follow-up article to this opinion piece. (Perhaps to be published on the 12 month anniversary of McMillan's statements?)

    Reviewing what steps McMillan has taken in the past 12 months to stamp out bullying and harrassment and asking her to address the questions arising in the comments from readers that have been made since the article was published....


  8. After two massive plagiarism scandals the Spautz and the Bayley-Jones cases, the University changed its logo.

    This is a standard technique of unethical business as a rebranding diverts the moral deficit from being addressed.

    This time they can't change the logo but they will change all of the policies.

    This is so you can't accurately address the past. The University denies a problem with bullying and plagiarism yet it is conducting a media campaign to remind customers that is a "safe collaborative space".

    How exactly is a policy "refreshed" if it

    a) didn't exist before
    b) wasn't enforced if it does.

    Beware, this is completely evil. I am also sick of being treated like an idiot by the University.