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)

Friday, August 30, 2013

Whistleblowing

Get the news on whistle blowing in rap

Enjoy this clip from Juice Rap News

Oversell, as seen by The Australian

"Oversell: "University of Newcastle tops Australia in student retention and equity rankings". Yes, but it was only one of several universities to receive the five star ranking from the Good Universities Guide. Misleading? Maybe not, but certainly rubbery."

Direct quote from The Australian.(emphasis added).

Monday, August 26, 2013

More research on bullying and PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder has previously been linked to combat, accidents, physical and sexual abuse.  More recently it has been linked to bullying, including workplace bullying.

As Nye states in Huffpost-Lifestyle UK

"If it looks like a dog, if it barks like a dog, and if overall it behaves like a dog, then it is most likely to be a dog. In the case of PTSD caused by bullying and abuse at work, this is a particularly black dog."

In recent research, people who had been bullied have been found to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.  The researcher went further, stating that
'Traumatic experiences or strains imposed on us by others can often hurt more than accidents.' (emphasis added).

This relates to the finding that bullying has a more significant effect on victims than sexual abuse.

Furthermore, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry have issued a policy statement recognising bullying as a serious medical and public health issue.

The results of our survey indicate that a considerably number of staff/students currently or previously at the University of Newcastle are suffering from symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

GETTING PTSD AT WORK 
MAKES WORK A WARZONE 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Female staff at the University of Newcastle

Earlier this year, in one of her "From the VC's desk" pieces, Caroline McMillen noted that 

"As an Employer of Choice for Women since 2009, we will continue to address challenges facing women as they build their careers. I am pleased to see our representation of women across the organisation is a healthy 60.8 per cent".

In contrast, a recently published journal paper by Suzanne Ryan and Bert Groen (University of Newcastle) and two other academics has investigated  the casualisation of university teaching ("Casual academic staff in an Australian University: Marginalised and Excluded")..  The university is not named but considering the lead author is from the University of Newcastle, it is assumed that the study was conducted there.

They noted that


"Casual academics are estimated to carry 50% of the teaching load in universities, including up to 80% of the first-year teaching load"

"the majority of sessional respondents to be female, middle-aged, with a postgraduate degree and approximately five years’ academic experience".  


"the issue of greatest concern to survey respondents was the discontinuity of employment arising from the uncertainty of teaching allocations that adversely affected their ability to plan finances and other aspects of their lives " viz.
  • Discontinuity of employment
  • Insufficient notice of teaching allocation
  • Impact of income uncertainty on financial planning 
  • Employment risks in refusing demands seen as unreasonable 
  • Impact of variable hours on family life 
"Sessionals receive very little in terms of training and development, advice and feedback, and access to basic human resource support. "


One head of school spoke of the "inequitable treatment of casuals demonstrates awareness of the problem: “Yes, they are treated like slave labour."'

This journal paper reports that casual/sessional academics are invisible 
  • "The feeling of invisibility is common among ses- sionals as they are generally excluded from mainstream school activities and com- plain of being ignored by their course coordinators".
  • "the invisibility of casual academic work and the nature of teaching result in underpaid and unpaid work". 
Employer of Choice for Women???




Monday, August 19, 2013

"Wonder of wonder, miracles of miracles"

In 2011, a video clip on stopping bullying in the workplace, which included facts from the University of Newcastle, was uploaded to Youtube.

Shortly thereafter, this video was blocked from view in Australia following legal action by the University of Newcastle.  This is part of the University's silencing tactics which include gagging of bullied employees, removal of posters, security stopping posters being put up, etc.

Now, suddenly, the clip can be viewed again in Australia!

Does the University know?

Google continues to monitor this website everyday - who is paying them to do this?

Has Google investigated the video and decided that there is no problem with it?

Does Google want some more money to keep blocking the video?

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery...

The University of Newcastle media juggernaut is now using the title and tags of our website on the uni website.

Recently, all the university's policies and procedures relating to bullying, harassment, intimidation, complaints, etc are now collected together on a web page entitle "Stop Bullying".  The uni is using the following on their website:

  • “workplace bullying at UoN”
  • “anyone can stop bullying at UoN”
  • “workplace bullying at the University of Newcastle”
  • "reporting bullying at the University of Newcastle”
  • “victim of bullying at UoN”
  • “stop bulling with UoN"



They are also using tags on the UoN blog of “stop bullying” and “University of Newcastle anti-bullying blog”.

Presumably the University is trying to direct visitors away from this blog to the University's website and blog.  

Well, as they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery..... 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Social Work at the University of Newcastle


Strong Silent Types reports the following:-
"As I have previously reflected upon on this blog, I was bullied by staff while studying social work at the University of Newcastle. That bullying had almost reached its ugly zenith when in late 1991, I was dragged into this weird and spooky inquisition meeting with two lecturers from the social work department, where I studied. For two, maybe three hours they harangued and hassled me and effectively chewed me to bits, telling me repeatedly that I was dumb, stupid, that I could not write and that I had absolutely no academic potential. In short, they had wanted me to withdraw from the course, since drumming people out who did not fit their prescribed, cod ordinary social work mold, was painstakingly common. I was, for one, the only male to graduate from that first cohort of students.
In my particular case, timing was indeed everything, since as both those lecturers well knew, I was at that moment stuck in the extraordinary bind of having my father diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and the delicate balancing act where we shared care responsibilities for, respectively, our wife and mother, was facing inexorable crisis. My mother had for eight years to that date suffered with early onset dementia and with my father’s death imminent, we were scurrying around to try and find her suitable nursing home care. One might expect that in such dire circumstances, social workers might do what social workers are supposed to do: ‘empathise.’ However, in true pathological form, the greater my distress, the more intensely I got bullied.
That bullying did reach its zenith in the middle of 1992, when my first confirmed social work placement at James Fletcher Hospital in Newcastle was pulled the night before I was due to commence, on account of an intervention between Social Work at the University of Newcastle and the head of social work at that hospital. The craven politics of that barbaric act centred on the fact that my mother had been ‘temporarily’ placed in Boronia House, a psycho-geriatric facility on the other side of the James Fletcher Hospital grounds. I was advocating against the decision of Boronia House’s staff to ‘dump’ my mother in a far away institution, a fact well known to Social Work and not an issue for them, in terms of my proposed placement.
Well, not until a phone conversation between the Head of the Social Work Department and his good friend and colleague at James Fletcher Hospital…
Even if I was able to countenance the possibility that Social Work was trying to avoid some sort of potential conflict of interest in which I might be enmeshed while on placement, although at that early stage of events no one could have foreseen what was going to happen, what do you think they would do next?
As fate would have it, and strictly against their own policy on where students could be located for first field education placements, I was sent to Gosford Community Mental Health, some 100 kilometres away from home. That meant getting up in the early hours of the morning and ending each ‘work’ day around nine pm, after visiting my mother at Boronia House, to see how she was going. In breach of the UN Convention Against Torture, and common human decency besides, staff at Boronia House had responded to my advocating against their plans to dump my mother out in the wilderness by withdrawing all nursing care to her. Within a few short weeks, that withdrawal of care had left a woman who had been in robust physical health for more than a decade, at the point of death.
I will be forever ‘stuck’ with the horrid traumatic memories of being forced to helplessly bear witness to the immense and totally avoidable suffering of the woman who had not only given birth to me but who had already endured way too much hardship in her life. For the eight years that I had been her primary carer I had been vigilant in ensuring my mother’s health, well being and safety. Further, and despite her inexorable cognitive decline, I had been able to bring much comfort and happiness to my mother’s life. To have that all needlessly smashed by staff at Boronia House was bad enough, but to have been so cruelly placed out of area by Social Work when I absolutely had to be placed at home, in Newcastle, took an immense toll on my physical and mental health.
I recall just after my father had died in July 1992, and with my mother being tortured all the while in Boronia House, how I had asked one of my social work lecturers for a brief extension for an assignment that was due. Despite the fact that I had not asked for any extensions or other forms of special consideration to date, her po-faced response was that the Social Work Department only gave extensions in ‘exceptional’ circumstances and my circumstances were not considered to be exceptional. I note with much sadness, thus, that 20 years later, bullying remains out of control at the University of Newcastle. The only difference is that nowadays, as this stunning video shows, more people are willing to speak out against bullying and assert their inalienable right to live free from abuse or neglect.
I will be forever grateful to Pr Lois Bryson, without whose tireless professional support I would have surely been eaten alive by those feral pigs in Social Work…"

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Now you see them, now you don't ..... Well you still see some of them!

The exodus of senior staff from the University of Newcastle continues.

Some are immediately obliterated - Sue Beach (Head of Legal Unit), Professor Sue Gould, Ian Pike (Human Resources), amongst others.

Some "leave" the University but still continue to be part of the University - Professor John Carter (Engineering), Professor Tony Williams who "moved" to Avondale College, and others.

Obliteration, vaporisation, reincarnation?.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Report from University of Sydney student


"Dear Sydney University Vice-Chancellor and Principal,

I’m an international student, today Thursday, 15th of August at 1:40 pm, I was verbally abused, intimidated and bullied by a women claiming to be one of your Sydney University psychology professors who was tending a table for one of your student societies. I am a postgraduate student, in all of my time spent at universities here and abroad, I have never experienced such venomous abuse or threatening behavior. The event was so sickening and bewildering, I felt horror-struck to the point of vomiting and felt the necessity to film it as a way of protection. At this time, the women and her associates became more abusive and bullying and screamed at me to put my camera away and abused with “fuck off”, “asshole” and a variety of other belittling terms. I have since contacted my Embassy and the NSW Police to report the incidents and have found, that any student being abused or threatened, has the right to film the offenders. For this reason I have attached the photo of the professor and her associates who were involved in the incident which took place on the Sydney university campus. I have also passed the video on to the media in my country, which I have a right to do.

At 1:40 pm, I entered the Sydney University campus from southern side of Eastern Ave and was approached by a female standing in front a table, which she introduced as the Socialist Alternative Sydney- Red Flag group (please see attached photo).  She invited me to sign a petition for refugees, which I gladly did. During this time, she attempted to engage me in conversation about an upcoming universities cut protest. I was uninterested in being pulled into this conversation and as she persisted with it, a dark haired, heavy set, old women in a denim jacket (see attached photo) approached and took over the conversation. She introduced herself as a professor teaching psychology and went off on a tangent about how miserable her life was because the university admission was so horrible to her and her associates. As she continued to loudly rant on about a series of other issues, which didn’t involve me; I became uncomfortable and gave her my view and informed her that it was no concern to me and I didn’t wish to be involved, which I am entitled to do. At this point the women went into a rage and told me to fuck off, called me an asshole, a scab and a series of other belittling names. Feeling frightened I video and photographed the events from my phone, at which point she quickly moved away from the table and continued to loudly abused me. At the same time her associates demanded that I stop filming and became further aggressive with loud verbal abuse.  

Like most international students studying in Australia, I do not feel that the professors in this country are very well trained or professional, (this woman’s violent out burst towards me was a excellent example of how unbalanced a lot faculty and staff are in Australian Universities). As an Aboriginal student from another country, I am also always disappointed with the racism presented by professors towards all indigenous people. From a psychological standpoint, I feel that this woman has some serious mental health issues. Her bullying and demeaning manner is unsafe for the classroom and would perhaps result in a horrendous experience, which would be damaging for the well being of other students, as it was for me.
For this reason, perhaps the budget cuts are a good way to weed out some of these non-professional and aggressive tormenter professors.

As I mentioned, I have never experienced a more unprofessional, frightening or abusive experience at any university, in any county. The occurrence has sickened me, humiliated me in front of classmates and damaged my personal well-being. After speaking with friends and students who witnessed this despicable event, I’ve contacted my family, Embassy and university at home and been advised to make an official compliant. I have been advised, “that because at this time I do not feel comfortable with the staff at Sydney University, I do not wish to give my full details, until I am contacted by someone from a proper office within the University, who will assist me with the right to make a complaint in a safe and non-treating environment”. I would like someone from the university of Sydney to please contact me so that I can report this issue and make sure that violence like this never happens to another student on you university campus again.

Its rather sad and disappointing that a major university would allow these vicious incidents to take place on their campus. Students should be protected from such violence from professors and their associates. For this reason I have chosen to cc’d contacts on this email as a I have a right to do. I have done this because I am horrified by the abuse I received and I strongly feel that it is important to warn other universities, so that their students don’t come to this country for the same type of disappointing experience. Its no secret that Australian universities seem to be filled with what appears to be mentally unstable and abusive people on its campuses, if you were to interview students you might became aware that there are a lot of abusive people on this campus who should not be around students. The callous experience is wasting student’s time and money, and the only ones who seem to be profiting are aggressive and bullying professors and your associates. That is not right!

I await your reply and assistance to report these incidents."

Sent by "studentunisyd"

We await the response of the University of Sydney with interest. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Staff exodus from the University of Newcastle

In March 2013, the Newcastle Herald reported on the senior staff exodus from the University.

At that time, senior staff leaving the university included

  • Professor Mike Calford
  • Professor McConkey
  • Mary Sharp (IT chief)
  • Professor Stephen Crump
  • Professor John Carter

At the time, we wondered what had happened to Professor Sue Gould, Professor Tony Williams and Ian Pike.

The University has now confirmed that Ian Pike, the Director of Human Resources, no longer works at the university.  Apparently his position as Director of Human Resources is "redundant".

So now there is an Associate Director of Human Resources........but no Director!

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.

Friday, August 9, 2013

OSTRACISM IS BULLYING

The only thing worse 
than being talked about 
is NOT being talked about.


Oscar Wilde

Education and health are the two worst sectors for workplace bullying


"GOLD Coast Hospital has denied sacking a top surgeon, saying she was simply restructured out of her job.
Neurosurgeon Teresa Withers, who helped treat victims after the 2005 Bali bombings, has lost her job as the hospital's director of surgery after leading a doctor revolt about issues including a bed shortage and alleged workplace bullying, The Courier-Mail revealed yesterday .
But hospital CEO Ron Calvert said claims Dr Withers had been sacked were "simply untrue".
Mr Calvert said a restructure had been needed because the hospital was moving to a new $1.8 billion facility at Parkwood, with five new services including cardiac surgery, neonatal intensive care and radiation oncology. ........
Mr Calvert said Dr Withers had been given the choice of two new "senior leadership roles".
But the restructure has been attacked by many sectors of the health community, including the Queensland Nurses Union and the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons.
RACS Queensland chairman Bernard Whitfield said it was important to have a senior surgeon with overall control of surgery to facilitate elective operations, maintain appropriate staffing levels and to ensure procedures were performed in a safe, timely manner.
"The Director of Surgey also has a very significant role in the oversight of surgical training," he said.
The issue was discussed at the RACS Queensland branch annual scientific meeting in Cairns at the weekend where surgeons from throughout the state called on the Gold Coast Hospital and Health Service to rethink the decision to abolish the role.   .....
Gold Coast HHS board chairman Mr Langdon denied there was "widespread" unrest among senior doctors but said the hospital was working to improve consultation and communication."

Personal injury claim against employer


Noosa News reports the following

AN employer has been ordered to pay nearly $600,000 dollars in loss and damages after a long-serving employee was successful in her personal injury claim against her employer.
The employee successfully demonstrated that the employer had unreasonably exposed her to a consistently unsatisfactory work environment that "cumulatively broke her back" resulting in a severe psychological condition.
The employee had been employed since 2002 as a retail sales assistant. During the trial, it was alleged by the employee that her manager had embarked on a mission of intimidation, harassment, belittlement and violence against her, including throwing a book at her head during one particular incident. In 2003, she made a complaint about the manager's conduct to the board.
In response, she was advised that the employer would implement workplace policies and employment contracts, presumably as a preventative measure.
They did not approach the manager regarding the alleged conduct.
In 2007, the employee again raised her concerns regarding her working environment, with those concerns again being met with promises to install proper workplace documents.
Ultimately, matters came to a head after the manager told the employee to leave the employer and find another job.
Upon a further complaint, a director of the board appointed an investigator. The manager was subsequently subjected to discipline that culminated in his resignation.
In awarding $292,554 in pecuniary loss and $300,000 in damages for pain and suffering, Justice Dixon noted that the employer should have anticipated the risk of psychological injury when the first complaint was made in 2003, and that the failure to act ultimately resulted in their liability."

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Unpersons




David Yamada, on his website, has reminded us about George Orwell's notion of "unpersons".  These are people whose "past existence is expunged from the public record and memory,".  Orwell spoke about this practice used by modern repressive governments.

In Orwell's famous book, 1984, no-one knew where these unpersons went to - they just disappeared.  Real people could easily be made to just disappear.
Add caption
As Yamada states,

"Today, with websites often serving as the public face of an organization, the creation of unpersons and the emptying of institutional memory is as easy as editing a web page. Entire biographies and histories can be deleted in a few keystrokes. One day, all links lead to your page; the next, you don’t even exist (at least virtually)! "

This is how it feels to be "disappeared", "eliminated", "negated", "annihilated", "liquidated" or "vaporized". 

Is it easier for those who bullied us at the University of Newcastle if we disappear?  Is it easier for them if we can be erased and forgotten by using ostracism, gagging clauses, silencing of our videos and website, etc?

We exposed misconduct at the University of Newcastle ......