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)

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Collusion and cover-up of bullying at the University of Newcastle



·        "In my opinion as a staff member, 
Human Resources will do everything in its power 
to cover up instances of workplace bullying, 
often protecting the bully, 
especially if that person is a line manager." 
(respondent - online survey)
     
 Seventy (70) respondents to our survey (36%) 
reported that 
NO ACTION was taken by 
their supervisor or by Human Resources 
in response to the reports of bullying.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Hug a whistleblower today!

"Shakespeare tells us, "The truth will out." But, what do we do about this truth, and with those who tell it?

Jerry Ashton in the Huffington Post, discusses the legal threats that have shut down the website "Science-fraud" which  "in just six months of existence had caused suspect work in 300 peer review publications to be held up to the light of truth and found (seriously, in some cases) wanting".

He goes on to say that
"Similar handles are pulled in the corporate and government world when some form of wrongdoing is exposed. Although filing suit is a popular attack, their immediate weapon of choice is much more intimate; they fire or harass the troublemaker. The latter, for years...

That's how it is, and why should you and I care? Why shouldn't an employer or a government be allowed to fire someone who has revealed that-which-must-be-concealed? Looking at it through their eyes, there are reputations to be protected, grand missions to continue. And, yes, the bottom line to be protected."

 Evelyn Brown who founded the Whistleblower Advocacy Group, Whistlewatch.org and the Brown Center for Public Policy, is not pleased.  She says

"There is too much being covered up, too much silencing of people, and not enough encouragement".

We have already experienced intimation because of our website - our Youtube video was blocked for viewing in Australia (but now reinstated on Facebook), threats of defamation and we are refused appointments with University management.  

Many of us have reported plagiarism or other misconduct by University staff - the University of Newcastle has acted quickly to get rid of us, as stated above by Ashton " Why shouldn't an employer or a government be allowed to fire someone who has revealed that-which-must-be-concealed? Looking at it through their eyes, there are reputations to be protected, grand missions to continue. And, yes, the bottom line to be protected."

We reported misconduct firstly because it was the ethical action to take and secondly because the University of Newcastle's Policy No  969 which states that "all University staff, conjoint appointees, volunteers, and members of advisory and governing bodies, in all campuses and locations of the University and at all times while engaged in University business or otherwise representing the University"

"should report any wrongdoing they witness within the University of Newcastle"

So we complied with this policy and look what happened to us.

Yes, Jerry Ashton is right when he headlined his article 

"Have You Hugged Your Whistleblower Today? They Could Use It"



Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The scars remain....

A teacher in New York was teaching her class about bullying and gave them the following exercise to perform. She had the children take a piece of paper and told them to crumple it up, stamp on it and really mess it up but do not rip it. 

Then she had them unfold the paper, smooth it out and look at how scarred and dirty is was. She then told them to tell it they’re sorry. Now even though they said they were sorry and tried to fix the paper, she pointed out all the scars they left behind. And that those scars will never go away no matter how hard they tried to fix it. 

That is what happens when a child bullies another child (or an adult bullies another adult) they may say they’re sorry but the scars are there forever. The looks on the faces of the children in the classroom told her the message hit home. 

There are many of us who have suffered at the hands of power-hungry workers at the University of Newcastle - the scars remain.  

The fact that university management collude and cover-up the bullying, rather than dealing with the frequent bullying, makes these scars even deeper.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The University of Newcastle Blog strikes again at bullying!

The University of Newcastle Blog has again raised the issue of workplace  bullying, citing an article from The Australian.

"Brendan O’Neill states that “the ideas of ‘workplace bullying’ and ‘university bullying’ are common currency today” and that “we are all worse off as a result of this bullymania”.

On this website, we have already highlighted the problems with Brendan O'Neill's contention that minor actions/events are considered as bullying.

In our post on January 8th, 2012, we stated:

"On this website we have used the term bullying to reflect serious and ongoing behaviour which negatively impacts the victim - bullying at the University of Newcastle is a serious issue.  We do not (or did not) behave as fragile, over-sensitive employees.  We were doing our jobs, usually doing them very well but the serious ongoing behaviour that we experienced has been


  • the loss of jobs, 
  • loss of health, 
  • loss of future employment,
  • loss of family and friends
  • loss of self-worth
  • ostracism etc.
A quick read of posts and comments on this blog will clearly demonstrate that we are not wilting violets who have over-reacted the the everyday rough-and-tumble of university life.

Perhaps Brendan O'Neill should read some more about the real bullying that happens rather than dismiss all reports of bullying as being frivolous and unfounded.  

How would he feel if he lost his career, future employment, mental and physical health, relationships, independence and self-worth?  What would he call that?"

"Bully in the Ivory Tower"

 Bully in the Ivory Tower: How Aggression and Incivility Erode American Higher Education


A recent book, "Bully in the Ivory Tower" by Leah P Hollis has found that 62% of those who work in higher education have experienced bullying - this compares to 45% of the general population.

Hollis explains the reason for this high percentage of bullying.

"What's interesting is at a college or university we are all trained to be experts in our field to go out and do this wonderful research and create excellent knowledge.  It also is an isolating experience so now when you have to manage people or collaborate or have team building you've already been protected by tenure perhaps or at least in a culture that supports being isolated and also supports a pretty big ego.  So that doesn't always make for the best management skills."

She considers that "bullying has to do with power and those with the least amount of power are the ones on the receiving end of bullying."

We know that bullying at the University of Newcastle is prevalent.  However it is not always those with the least amount of power that are bullied.  Whilst we have had numerous reports of casual/sessional employees being bullied, there has and continues to be bullying from those higher up in the University of Newcastle e.g. professors, senior lecturers, etc. 

Three reports of bullying at the University of Newcastle have been published on the website of the parliamentary inquiry into workplace bullying - nos. 8, 25 and 53.  Other submissions from employees/ex-employees were examined by the Inquiry but not authorised for publication.

You can watch Hollis's TV interview here.


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

REVENGE!


Michael Salter ( The Conversation, 8 January 2013) discusses revenge in the context of abuse and violence against women.  What he says may also be applicable to victims of bullying.


"We usually think about revenge in terms of pettiness or malice, but it can give voice to legitimate outrage and highlight inequality. This kind of online revenge can start conversations about violence against girls and women away from the limits imposed by judges and journalists. It can activate and mobilise support for victims. In some cases, it can force courts to change their ways and this has a positive impact on “old media” and the community too.
So revenge can be political as well as personal – but it can also be healthy. Research shows that being listened to, and feeling supported and validated, reduces the mental health impact of being victimised. On the other hand, being silenced or disbelieved can result in worse outcomes for the victims."

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

New year but the same old stuff!

Brendan O'Neill in the Australian has focussed his attention on the notion of bullying, stating that "everything is defined as "bullying" these days".

He maintains that the folllowing are labelled as "bullying"
- being called out on your slackness
- being hauled over the coals for your political views
- "being put on the spot".

He considers that calling everything bullying is a result of the "touchiness of our therapeutic-era" and the belief that "people are pathetic bundles of sensitivity".

He concludes that "Bullying is now entirely in the eye of the beholder" and that "The ideas of "workplace bullying" and "university bullying" are common currency today".



In summary, he states: "In 2013, make it your resolution to never, no matter how beleaguered you feel, say, "I'm being bullied!" Those words should never cross the lips of anyone over the age of 10."

On this website we have used the term bullying to reflect serious and ongoing behaviour which negatively impacts the victim - bullying at the University of Newcastle is a serious issue.  We do not (or did not) behave as fragile, over-sensitive employees.  We were doing our jobs, usually doing them very well but the serious ongoing behaviour that we experienced has been

  • the loss of jobs, 
  • loss of health, 
  • loss of future employment,
  • loss of family and friends
  • loss of self-worth
  • ostracism etc.

A quick read of posts and comments on this blog will clearly demonstrate that we are not wilting violets who have over-reacted the the everyday rough-and-tumble of university life.

Perhaps Brendan O'Neill should read some more about the real bullying that happens rather than dismiss all reports of bullying as being frivolous and unfounded.  

How would he feel if he lost his career, future employment, mental and physical health, relationships, independence and self-worth?  What would he call that?