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)

Monday, December 30, 2013

Religion and secularism

Australia is a secular state (Section 116 of the Constitution) - this means it is officially neutral regarding matters of religion.

The University of Newcastle promotes a collaborative culture and does not tolerate any behaviour that "intimidates, offends, or humiliates" anyone on the basis of their religion (amongst other characteristics).
According to the Unviersity of Newcastle's website,
"The Dean provides information and advice to students on a range of matters including the resolution of complaints." (emphasis added)

"The Dean of Students provides an independent and balanced review of student issues."

Jennifer Allen, the current Dean of Students, promotes her religious affiliation (Luis Pulau Association - an evangelical Christan organisation) and beliefs using Youtube and the internet, as well as openly stating her position at the University.
  • She speaks on Youtube:-  "Jenny and Boyd from Newcastle, Australia, share about the day they were confronted with the reality of Jesus"  She mentions her "powerful position at the University"
  •  .
  • On the Luis Pulau Association website: "Dr. Jenny Allen, Dean of Students at the University of Newcastle, became a follower of Jesus at a Luis Palau event in 1979. 33 years later, she helped create and implement a massive initiative to reach people across the Hunter Region of Australia with the Good News. This is her story."  
  • Speaking at Luis Palau "CityFest":    "Jenny Allen, dean of students at the University of Newcastle and chair of counselor training for CityFest, said her role had everything to do with the decision she made at a crusade in 1979. “My hope and dream for this festival is that in 33 years, someone could be sitting here filming somebody else who remembers the 17th of November the same way we remember ’79,” she said in a video interview. “That they sit here because of the moment in time when they were confronted with the reality of Jesus.”
  •  Speaking at Crossover Australia - Ministry beyond the walls:- "Crossover assembled a panel of key leaders and thinkers to discuss some key missional issues facing churches. Our panel consists of ........ Jenny Allen – Dean of Students at Newcastle University......"
  •  Catch the Fire Ministries:- "Jenny Allen, dean of students at the University of Newcastle and chair of counselor training for CityFest, said her role had everything to do with the decision she made at a crusade in 1979."
  •  and more  http://www.breakingchristiannews.com/articles/display_art.html?ID=10798
  • and more http://www.mcf-a.org.au/index.php/news-events/59-williamtown-outreach
  • and more http://ausprayernet.org.au/newsletter/DisplayNewsletter.php?e_id=00000002531
Are these two roles (evangelical Christian and independent Dean of students) compatible?

Does the University of Newcastle condone her using her position at the University in these evangelical fora?

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Good Christmas? Happy Holiday?

So did you have a good Christmas and/or Holiday time?

Did any of you think about those of us whom you have harrassed, bullied and victimmised?

Did your conscience prick you at all over this period of "goodwill"?

Benjamin Franklin said
"A good conscience is a continual Christmas".  

Just think - you too could have a continual Christmas if you had acted differently instead of colluding with each other for the sake of power, rewards and promotion.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Kevin McConkey re-appears!

Kevin McConkey, previously DVC (Academic and International), has now joined NOUS, a "leading Australian owned management consulting and leadership development firm".
Prof. Kevin McConkey
McConkey at NOUS
Apparently, this company aims "to improve our society’s well-being" with solutions  that: 
  • "confront society’s tough challenges to improve the lives of all Australians
  • build effective, strong organisations that create value
  • shape organisational architecture and culture to maximise competitive advantage
  • develop people and enable leaders to deliver great organisational outcomes"
McConkey "has worked with organisations on strategic planning, financial management, renewable energy, property development, and international education. He is currently engaged by companies and institutions in the People’s Republic of China to provide advice and support in these areas of activity."

"improving lives"?????

Can this be the same Kevin Mcconkey many of us had to face at the University of Newcastle?  

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Stats update on this blog

  • 1408 posts
  • Over 145,000 visitors.
Top ten most frequently represented countries visiting this blog.

Workplace bullying and unions

"Unions can do a lot to address workplace bullying, but they are not necessarily a panacea. Over the years, I've heard from many people who felt abandoned by their unions when pressing complaints about bullying behaviors. Furthermore, when union members are accused of bullying others, unions are legally obliged to represent their interests. In situations where both the purported target and alleged aggressor are union members, this can be a sticky situation. And let's acknowledge that the culture within some unions can be very, well, bullying."  David Yamada

Monday, December 16, 2013

How the School of Humanities and Social Sciences selects its staff

The key selection criteria for a lecturing position are listed below.  The details of the person who was given the job are in RED.
  • PhD in XXX or other relevant discipline, or equivalent research outcomes. For Level B, currently enrolled or intending to enrol in PhD in XXX or other relevant discipline, or equivalent research outcomes.  NO PhD - INTENDING TO ENROL MAYBE?
  • Eligibility for practising membership of (professional body) and involvement in relevant professional bodies and networks. YES
  • A track record of research excellence demonstrated through scholarly publications in highly ranked journals. NO JOURNAL OR OTHER PUBLICATIONS AT ALL
  • Demonstrated potential for success in competitive grant acquisition.NO GRANT APPLICATIONS, LET ALONE SUCCESSFUL ONES
  • Proven ability to deliver high quality, innovative teaching and effective course administration. NO TEACHING EXPERIENCE, NO COURSE ADMINISTRATION EXPERIENCE
  • Knowledge of contemporary issues, policies, practices and debates in the discipline. PROBABLY
  • Capacity to successfully supervise research higher degree candidates NO - DOES NOT HAVE A HIGHER DEGREE
  • Capacity to make contributions to administrative leadership at School, Faculty, or University level.  POSSIBLY - AFTER SOME TIME.
  • Demonstrated ability to work in a collaborative team.  POSSIBLY. 
Brown nosing (Image)

Why did this person get the job? Good question - in with the head of discipline?  brow nosing? ability to ignore misconduct? (ostrich-like)?

Did no one else who actually fulfilled the criteria apply?  Oh Yes!

Another case of favoritism, conflict of interest and "it's who you know, not whether you can actually do the job".

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Spending/wasting taxpayers' money

"Public universities are supposed to be providing a public good to society and therefore should be forced to be totally transparent with their finances and accountable for their actions. Unfortunately, they are allowed to operate under the radar with very few questions asked. These universities are neither transparent nor accountable for their finances because neither the public nor the elected officials are questioning them and the media isn't investigating them."

"How much tuition money is being spent on education and how much is wasted on everything else that has nothing to do with education? How much of the endowment money goes towards improving the quality of education? How much money goes into the pockets of the administrators and bureaucrats that never step foot inside a classroom? These are just a few of the questions the public universities should be forced to answer.

Students have a right to know exactly how much of their money actually goes towards their own education. Taxpayers have a right to know if their money is being used like it should be. If their money isn't being spent wisely, then the universities should be held accountable. I don't think this is asking too much from institutions that are supposedly here to serve the interests of the public." (emphasis added)

Thursday, December 12, 2013

More colourful corporate spin from the VC

NB - note the R word (respect) and the c word (Collaboratively).

Apparently  "Quite simply, it's through these actions and capabilities that collectively, we will achieve our Vision to be a leading University - in everything we do."

PS - One of our readers has very aptly brought our attention to the fact that this latest corporate spin from the Uni is similar to the Google Chrome symbol. 

Shouldn't the Uni acknowledge this?  Perhaps Google Inc, on one of its frequent visits to monitor our blog, will take action. 

UoN - Where are you?

According to the Australian, 

"UNIVERSITIES rate below the banking and alcohol industries to be near the bottom of the pile when it comes to generating engagement on their Facebook pages."

And how did the University of Newcastle do compared to other universities?

"Out of the top 20 education performers, UNSW's Facebook page had the largest fan base. As of December, its 266,702 fans put it way ahead of second placed Macquarie University at 182,296. After the leading two, fan numbers fell steeply with Monash third with 81,967. In 20th place, the University of Newcastle had 22,580."

How will the University of Newcastle report this finding?
Will they state that the University of Newcastle is in the top 20 in the country (with less than 10% of UNSW)?
How much more money will they have to throw at UoN's advertising and marketing machine than they already do

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Gagging - protecting an organisation's reputation?

As part of the Royal commission into abuse in the Catholic Church, a woman who had been abused was given a payment and "was told to sign which banned her from making disparaging comments about the Church."(PM Radio National)

Dr James Spence is a former chancellor of the Brisbane Archdiocese. 

"JAMES SPENCE: The lawyers put that in as a protection that they felt was necessary because they wanted to protect the Church from any further damage.

PETER MCCLELLAN: You mean adverse comment?


PETER MCCLELLAN: Do you think it was right for the Church to seek to impose an obligation which sole purpose was to protect its reputation?

JAMES SPENCE: I think it was wrong to make it a binding condition".  

The University of Newcastle has never seen anything wrong with forcing people to sign confidentiality agreements/gagging clauses.  At least FIFTEEN individuals have told us that they have been gagged.  This does not include all the others who have been silenced by other means by the University.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Mark Pigot - short-lived Chief Information Officer

Mark Pigot has reappeared at Woolworths.

"Current - Program Manager at Woolworths Limited
Past - CIO at University of Newcastle"

He was appointed Chief Information Officer at the University of Newcastle (UoN) amidst the usual UoN fanfare - he was recruited to replace Mary Sharp.

Pigot only stayed for FOUR months - he was supposed to lead 
"the university's strategic plan to be a global leader in education, research and innovation by 2025" (CIO)

Did UoN's New Directions strategic plan  look unattainable? 
Did he disagree with the cuts that had to be made to achieve this plan? 
Was he dubious of the university's ethos when he got up close to it?
Did he disagree with the workplace culture?

Must have been a costly mistake for the upper ranks of management at the uni - he is not prepared to comment.  So how much money did they give him to keep him silent?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Poor Caroline McMillen?

Should we feel sorry for the Vice Chancellor.

Is she regretting her move to the University of Newcastle?

There she was at the University of Adelaide – one of the prestigious “Group of 8” universities.

She was the Pro Vice-Chancellor and Vice President: Research & Innovation.
She has degrees from Oxford and Cambridge Universities – universities that are REALLY AND TRULY amongst the "world leading universities". 

Then she finds herself at the University of Newcastle…

  • Yes she is the Vice Chancellor with lots of power.
  • Yes she has an extremely high salary
  • Yes she has an office in the Chancellery
  • Yes she has the opportunity for lots of publicity.

But at what cost?

What did Nick Saunders say or do to convince her to come to Newcastle? 

Does she feel she got a raw deal?

Does she feel she was sold a lemon?

It must be very tough if you were taken in by all the gloss and glory and then you learn what the reality is.  What else can you do but ramp up publicity and marketing to cover the ever-widening cracks, and then start looking for other positions!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Who gets punished at UoN when there is sexual harassment?

These are examples of harassment according to the University of Newcastle - see policy
- "unwelcome invitations especially after prior refusal;
- non-verbal sexual or sexist behaviour such as whistling, staring and leering;
- unwelcome sexual or physical contact such as embracing, kissing or touching;
- making promises, propositions or threats in return for favours, including those of a sexual nature;
- engaging in behaviour which is embarrassing, humiliating or intimidating"
That seems clear enough

why does UoN punish the person being harassed 
and protect the person doing the harassing?

Yet another another new policy/procedure for a "respectful" workplace - from the VC herself

An update about NeW Directions Future Workforce Plan: Promoting a respectful and collaborative workplace culture

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. To further support you and your colleagues, the Promoting a Respectful & Collaborative Workplace: Resolving Workplace Concerns or Conflict Procedure has been developed and is now available in the Policy Library and the following two locations:
It is important for you to know that there is a change in approach to this procedure. It now encourages 'early intervention' by supervisors in resolving workplace issues locally with support from Human Resource Services, who can assist them in determining how best to proceed in addressing workplace concerns.

This change reflects and supports the University's commitment to providing a robust framework to ensure that you, all staff and students, and other members of the University community are not only treated with dignity and respect, but feel empowered to change workplace behaviours that they believe are of concern.

You are encouraged to read the policy and procedure and familiarise yourself with other online tools available in the respectful and collaborative workplace webpage; and you can also access the self-paced online learning program EOonline.

By understanding this procedure - and encouraging your colleagues to do the same - you can actively contribute to the University being a respectful and collaborative place - for everyone."