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 15, 2014

University of Newcatle rides high in the polls - for MyMaster cheating

According to the Australian,

"EDUCATION Minister Christo­pher Pyne has written to the head of the agency that oversees higher education standards expressing his “utmost concern” about recent media coverage of systemic plagiarism by international students in Australian universities. "

Mr Pyne wants TEQSA to "ensure that institutions which have been named in media reports as having had acts of plagiarism “are taking the necessary steps to counteract this type of student misconduct”."

So who is the Head of TEQSA?  None other than the previous Vice-Chancellor of the University of Newcastle, Nick Saunders.

What do we know about Nick Saunders' reign at the University of Newcastle and plagiarism?
 
- two lecturers plagiarised a student's research and presented it at a conference and in written publications
- staff were told to "ignore plagiarism"
- staff were told not to fail a student "because we have never had to do that and we don't know how to do it".
- a number of academic staff lost their jobs at the University for refusing to ignore plagiarism by staff or students.
- a professor published data from Hunter Health patients without their permission and the University took no action, except to "talk to the academic"
- no action was taken about "soft marking" (boosting students' marks so that no-one fails).
etc etc

And now the recent sad litany of cheating is to be investigated by the man who was Vice-Chancellor when substantial cheating took place.

Now that makes sense!


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Workplace bulllying - effects on family members

We know staff and students from the University of Newcastle have been devastatingly affected by their bullying and harassment experiences at the University.

However, family members and other relationships are also often affected:-


As iHR states
"Failing to address bullying and harassment in the workplace can not only impact on employees' health but can also damage the wellbeing of their families, according to a recent article.


Workplace bullying often leads to anxiety, stress and depression among victims, which typically impacts their ability to work effectively and efficiently. These feelings of distress tend to cling to individuals, meaning they carry them home at the end of each day.


Another troubling impact of workplace bullying is anger displacement. Often, if an individual fears for their job security, they will avoid confronting their co-workers or managers regarding bullying. When an individual is bullied or harassed but feels powerless to respond, they often harbour feelings of resentment and anger that can emerge at a later time, such as in the home."

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Why comment here anonymously?


We have received the following comment on this blog:-

"Isn't the internet just fantastic! This 'group' (or is it only one person?) gets to say what they like about someone and not reveal who they are - why do the people commenting here do so under the 'anonymous' name - is it because they cannot stand up for what they believe is right because they actually know what they are saying is complete rubbish and defamatory? BTW I will reveal my name when each and every one of the Anonymous' has the guts to reveal who they are in a way that can be independently verified."

Neither we nor other websites can FORCE people not to comment anonymously.  However, why do people comment here "under the anonymous name"?

There are many reasons why people use "Anonymous".  Obviously, some commentators use "anonymous" as an easy way to say possibly controversial things without them, their work or family being affected.

However, for many people who comment on this blog, there are very real and very serious reasons why they may comment anonymously;

  • Some commentators may need to remain anonymous because they have been gagged by the University i.e. the University of Newcastle has been so concerned about what they have done to some people that the University has silenced these people with gagging clauses and threats of court action if these people speak out.   From our survey, there are at least 15 staff/students who have been gagged by the university.
  • Some commentators who use Anonymous may be doing so to prevent their family members who are still employed at the University from being harassed and discriminated against or losing their jobs.  Again, we have proof of this from our survey.
  • Some commentators who use Anonymous may be doing so because they are still students at the University and cannot afford to have their views aired publicly as this would affect them completing their degrees.
  • Some commentators who use Anonymous may be doing so because they are still working at the University of Newcastle and cannot afford to be named until they have secured themselves other employment. 72 individuals reported in our survey they they were actively seeking other employment or were leaving the University.
  • Some commentators who use Anonymous may be doing so because the harassment and victimisation from the University has had a huge effect on their mental and physical health and do not feel able to air this publicly.  45 respondents to our survey had attempted or considered suicide.  Others report depression, sleep problems, hypertension, palpitations etc.

Perhaps complaining about people using "Anonymous" shows naivety or a lack of understanding of the devastating and widespread effects of bullying at the University of Newcastle.Alison Ferguson speech pathology bully

Monday, December 8, 2014

Caroline McMillen - "free to take all decisions and actions"


The Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Newcastle is Professor Caroline McMillen.

According to the University of Newcastle's Annual Report 2013,

"The Vice-Chancellor and President is free to take all decisions and actions which further the University's objectives and which, in her or his judgment, are reasonable." (emphasis added)

"Power is always dangerous. Power attracts the worst 
and corrupts the best." (Edward Abbey)

Trevor Waring - his role as Chancellor of the University of Newcastle

The following comment about Trevor Waring, former Chancellor of the University of Newcastle, by "Anonymous" has already been published here but we feel it warrants a response.

Anonymous said:-
"So if he's such a sham why are numerous organisations still giving him awards or is the whole of the psychology profession in Australia completely duped? Isn't the internet just fantastic! This 'group' (or is it only one person?) gets to say what they like about someone and not reveal who they are ....."

Trevor Waring's private psychology practice and his professional role as a psychologist in Australian is not relevant to this blog.  
Source
What is of concern is that Trevor Waring, in his role as Chancellor of the University of Newcastle, was approached by a number of people who had experienced bullying at the University and had taken no action, despite being a psychologist and despite acknowledging that bullying and victimisation occurred within the University.

As Dr Kate Hartig (former Senior Lecturer bullied out of the University of Newcastle) states

"I do not dispute that Professor Trevor Waring AM is a distinguished psychologist and a leader in his field that cares about his clients. But when I went to him seeking resolution to the extreme bullying I was experiencing at the University of Newcastle he informed me that as Chancellor he was just a figurehead and had no power. More significantly he informed me that my discipline (Geography) had a long history of misconduct and there was nothing he could do.

Regardless of his perceived "powerless" status how could an eminent psychologist ignore mental health issues within the organisation that he represented?"

Sunday, November 23, 2014

University of Newcastle Rankings

Once again the University of Newcastle rides high in the rankings.

"Something in the water: On further looking into students using sex to earn money the Newcastle Herald found that “at the end of 2013 there were 171 University of Newcastle students registered to a specialist online dating website called Seeking Arrangement that matches students with a ‘‘sugar daddy’’ to fund their education.” The website told the paper that the Newcastle had the third highest number of members on the site of all tertiary institutes in Australia. It doesn’t identify the other two, but HW is all ears." (emphasis added)

University of Newcastle - steam/water/sex/sugar daddy?

The student who earned money via a sex show continues to be in the news - she was counselled whilst those members of staff who sexually harassed students remain employed.

"Steamy:The Newcastle Herald reports that a Newcastle University student has been counselled after using the library to film a pay per view sex show of herself. “Parts of the library were ordered to be steam cleaned after the incident,” the paper reports. It must have been some show."

Is she still permitted to continue studying at the university?

Are those members of staff who sexually harassed student still allowed to work at the university?

Of course they are, along with academics who committed other forms of misconduct.  They are protected by all levels of Newcastle University management right to the top.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Newcastle planning inquiry hots up - what of the University of Newcastle?

"As an inquiry into Newcastle planning decisions prepares to hold its second set of hearings, more questions are being asked about conflicts of interest over the city's rail line truncation.

The inquiry will today hear from the city's new lord mayor, Nuatali Nelmes, as well as senior figures at the University of Newcastle, the Hunter Business Chamber and retail giant GPT." (ABC)

 So does the University of Newcastle support cutting the rail?

Many reports link the University and the HDC (Hunter Development Corporation).



University of Newcastle architectural design chair Professor Steffen Lehmann spoke last night of his ideas for Newcastle in a Hunter Valley Research Foundation public lecture at City Hall.

A PROPOSAL for a new waterfront Newcastle railway terminus at Wickham Station has received a mixed reception.
The idea, suggested by Newcastle University's chair of architectural design, Professor Steffen Lehmann, was reported in Saturday's Herald.

Not so long ago, internationally recognised urban planning academic Professor Steffen Lehmann put forward his own vision of a grand railway plaza on the eastern side of Stewart Avenue, delivering passengers to the very edge of the harbour where they could take in, at a glance, the essential historical maritime nature of this important city.

NEWCASTLE'S heavy rail line should be cut at Wickham station, where a new transport interchange and waterfront plaza should form the nucleus of future harbourside redevelopments, according to Newcastle University's Professor of Architectural Design.
German-born Professor Steffen Lehmann said the rail line should not be built on, but used as a corridor for light rail or a loop bus to the East End and back.

https://www.greenleft.org.au/node/44367
Professor Steffen Lehmann from the School of Architecture at the University of Newcastle spoke at the FOC meeting in favour of cutting the line, and presented artist impressions of a “green corridor” to replace it.
These images were produced by fourth-year architecture students who had been asked to provide a vision of a rail-free Newcastle. It is a condition of study that the university can use such artwork without student permission.
Lehmann was appointed by notoriously pro-developer planning minister Frank Sartor, as a representative on the Newcastle Stakeholder Reference Panel, for the Newcastle City Centre Masterplan. Lehmann is also a consultant for the HDC.

Last week it was reported a group of business people could make a bid for the lease.
Former Newcastle of University professor Steffen Lehmann revealed he had been engaged as a consultant for the group.
Key ideas he had been working on included not cutting the rail any further than Wickham, relocating heavy industrial in Carrington and running light rail down the centre of Hunter Street.

http://www.propertyoz.com.au/Article/NewsDetail.aspx?p=16&id=8631
Steffen Lehmann, a former University of Newcastle professor of architectural design, is consulting to a Hunter-based consortium wanting to bid for the 99-year lease on the port.
‘‘The capital this lease transaction can unlock means things Newcastle has dreamed of for 30 years can come true. It is a transformative opportunity that could not be over-estimated,’’ Professor Lehmann said.
Professor Lehmann’s job is to set the ground rules for the consortium’s overall vision."

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Investigating student "cheating"

Regarding the issue of students paying for assignments and papers, 
"The University of Newcastle and the University of Wollongong say they are investigating the use of the MyMaster service by their students." (Newcastle Herald)

The matter has now been referred to the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA), the independent regulator of Australia's universities.

"A spokeswoman for TEQSA said on Monday the authority had been asked to ensure all universities were "meeting the requirements of the Higher Education Threshold Standards that are relevant to this issue".

"Acting Chief Commissioner Nick Saunders is confident that in those cases where students have not produced original work, the institution will take appropriate action," she said." (Newcastle Herald)

What will the University of Newcastle do?
What if they are all cash-cow international students?
Will the cheating of students be treated in the same way as plagiarism by academics at the University of Newcastle (i.e. ignored or given counselling)?

Is there a conflict of interest to get Nick Saunders, previous VC of the University of Newcastle, to investigate this?  Who can forget his assertion that "To my knowledge, bullying and harassment is not a major problem at the University of Newcastle".

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Inappropriate sexual behaviour, sexual harassment and the University of Newcastle

"A University of Newcastle student has been "counselled" after she was discovered using university resources to broadcast a live solo sex show from a campus library.

In October, university staff were warned about the "extremely inappropriate behaviour" of a student using the Auchmuty campus library to film and broadcast herself via live web camera shows."  Newcastle Herald

A spokeswoman for the University of Newcastle is quoted as saying

"We have a code of conduct that clearly outlines the sorts of behaviours the university expects from its community on campus," she said.

This student may have resorted to this way of making ends meet.  According to the Newcastle Herald, "financially desperate Newcastle students are reportedly resorting to using a number of informal online sex outlets to make ends meet." AND "At the end of 2013 there were 171 University of Newcastle students registered to a specialist online dating website called Seeking Arrangement that matches students with a "sugar daddy" to fund their education.

The important issue is that the University has acted against this student BUT what happens to those members of staff who sexually harass students?

We have had reports on sexual harassment by staff of the University in our survey and also on this website:-
  • There was also an occasion where a administrative officer was sexually harassed by the professor… she was transferred to another department after she made a formal complaint. I suspect there are many more.
  • Sexual inappropriate comments made by a male academic to a younger female academic. I don't know what else happenned. Later (two years) the male academic publicly rebuked the female (via an open email) and cut all ties with her. I don't know any other details. But what I saw changed the way I interact with the academic
  • Too many stories to reiterate - most relate to academic property theft, although I am aware of previous sexual harressment that has occurred as well.
  • (nature of bullying) Sexual Harrasment
  • A male member of staff was very inappropriate to a female colleague. Intimidating, suggestive and sexist. When she complained he told her to have a sense of humour. She was too intimidated to complain. Then another person did complain (and I'm told numerous others), but the person was just moved sideways in the org. He is now still supervising a number of women.                                                                             

 Comments on website
  • specially uon has a reputation in sexual harassment according to the statistics of NUSA-student service.
  • This only covers bullying, harassment and favouitism amongst staff. Look deeper and find it has been happening for years between lecturers and students. In a particular course I attended at Newcastle University it was quite plain to see lets say extra attention and personal views on relationships by a male lecturer made toward some students of the opposite sex to the point of harassment at times. One would often be seen around campus and outside with a married student he took a particular liking to it was clear to one and all similar standards of work were not achieving the same grades
Gary Kennedy, previously of the Trades Hall Council, also reported this:‘‘After all the complaints we’ve had, I have no doubts the university has problems with bullying, especially with sexual harassment and when people speak up about plagiarism,’’ Mr Kennedy said.
The University of Newcastle is always showcasing their code of conduct for staff that also "clearly outlines the sorts of behaviours the university expects" regarding all forms of harassment, including sexual harassment.
Why were these members of staff not also "counselled" as this student was?  
Is there one rule for staff and one for students?
We know that reporting staff misconduct results in the whistle blower being "removed" from the University and the staff member is usually promoted and rewarded..
 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Plagiarism is bad enough but staff cover-up is even worse!

As the Sydney Morning Herald states, "10 years on and nothing has changed".

"In 2003, the murky world of plagiarism cast a shadow over all Australian universities when it emerged that international students were not only cheating at a major institution, but academics were prepared to cover it up.

Newcastle University, a leading regional institution with a heavy reliance on international students, allowed business students at an offshore campus to receive close to top marks despite some of the most blatant examples of plagiarism possible. "

Two Newcastle academics were subsequently found to be corrupt by the ICAC.

The SMH continues
"But what will universities do about it? Probably, very little. The reality is that unless the increasing number of international students continue to leave Australia with a degree in hand, a critical flow of funding will dry up.

There is no doubt that the international student market is critical to universities and the Australian economy but it will become worthless if the federal government allows institutions to put cash before quality.

After the 2003 scandal, students in Malaysia admitted publicly that they were embarrassed to tell employers that their degrees were from Newcastle. "

As visitors to this website will know, we have continuously voiced our concerns about plagiarism by staff and also staff cover-up of student plagiarism.  It is difficult to understand why the University of Newcastle does not properly investigate these issues (and other issues of corruption and misconduct of staff) and deal with them - the University's approach is to get rid of anyone who reports such misconduct.

It is a sad sad time for those University of Newcastle students who work hard, do their own work and maximise their learning opportunities.  They are continually let down by staff misconduct and cover-up, as well as losing those academics who take an ethical stand against the behaviour of their colleagues. Alison Ferguson ethics

Thursday, November 13, 2014

"Newcastle University in damage control after cheating revealed"

Amongst many reports in the local and national papers, the Newcastle Herald has reported that the University of Newcastle is in "damage control" after it was named as one of the highest in the number of students buying essays, assignments and exams.

The Newcastle Herald reports that 

 "Professor Andrew Parfitt, the deputy vice-chancellor of the University of Newcastle, said the institution was "disappointed" but denied the cheating was systemic and said that there were mechanisms in place to catch offending individuals.

"I can't guarantee we can identify individual cases all the time. But we can identify across the course of a full course somebody who is systematically doing this sort of thing," he said, speaking on ABC Newcastle radio on Wednesday morning.

The MyMaster website received at least $26,410 from students at the University of Newcastle who submitted 123 requests for ghost written assignments - the second-highest number of requests from the 16 universities affected.

At least six students from the University of Newcastle repeatedly used MyMaster services, with several using the website for different assessments within the same course, suggesting that their cheating went undetected by the university.

One from the University of Newcastle returned to MyMaster five times during 2014, paying at least $1594 for the ghost-written assignments."

Plagiarism by students and by academic staff at the University of Newcastle has been recorded frequently on this website from newspaper reports and from the Parliamentary Inquiry into Workplace Bullying.

In our bullying survey, 60 respondents reported that they had been bullied at the University of Newcastle because they had identified wrongdoing of some kind and reported this (as staff and students are required to do according to the university's Policy 969).  This wrongdoing included plagiarism by academic staff and academic staff being told to ignore student plagiarism and also to do "soft marking" (i.e. ensuring that everyone passes by manipulating the marks).

If you have any further details, please contact  amcneilage@fairfaxmedia.com.au

Around twenty academics had already contacted the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday to anonymously report the problems about plagiarising and cheating by students and the issues of the useful revenue that the universities obtain from international students.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

University of Newcastle again flying high in university rankings!

Once again, the University of Newcastle is flying high in the rankings:-

The University of Newcastle is ranked second worst in Australia for the number of requests by students for work (essays, assignments and exams) by a Sydney Company, MyMaster.

"A Fairfax Media investigation has uncovered a sophisticated online business, which has produced thousands of university assignments and turned over hundreds of thousands of dollars since it began operating in May 2012." Sydney Morning Herald.

"One student spent more than $1500 on assignments for five different courses at the University of Newcastle's Business School."

Also, the University of Newcastle is ranked top in Australia for the amount paid by students to obtain these essays and assignments.

"They are guaranteed the purchased work is original and will not be detected by the universities' plagiarism software."

What employer would want academics like this?

These are comments from students about lecturers at the University of Newcastle.
  • "is a fantastic lecturer".
  • "Overall, I would describe ? as: Knowledgeable, approachable, an inspiration, a role model, a compassionate educator".
  • "deserves the Supervisor of the Year award".
  • "it was a privilege to receive education from ?".
  • "Your lectures were incredible"
  • *was a truly inspirational educator who I hold as a personal role model"
  • "? should have been included in the 100 remarkable women"
  • "an inspirational lecturer".
So where are they now?

All of them have been bullied, harassed and victimised by the University of Newcastle.
All of them have lost their jobs at the University of Newcastle. Alison Ferguson ethics
All of them have had their lives, vocations and health damaged by the University of Newcastle.



Tuesday, November 11, 2014

University of Newcastle - keeping its world renowned status!


The University of Newcastle (UON) has been named Australia's top performing, young university by two independent, global ranking systems – the 2014 QS 'Top 50 under 50' and the 2014 Times Higher Education (THE) 'Top 100 under 50'.

Along with this rise in the rankings, where is the University of Newcastle in the Bullying in Higher Education ranking tables?

In the United Kingdom, the percentage of people who have experienced bullying within academic settings is higher than the national average. UK higher education studies have found the percentage of people experiencing it ranges between 18% to 42%.

" Cultures where bullying flourishes have been characterised as competitive, adversarial and politicised. While academia can be on occasion adversarial, it is more commonly competitive and political." - Does this sound familiar to those of you bullied, harassed and victimised at the University of Newcastle?

"A Canadian study explored academic bullying behaviours in more depth, finding that having your contributions ignored, being the subject of gossip and being undermined and belittled in front of others were the behaviours most commonly experienced."  - Again, does this sound familiar?

To determine the extent and incidence of bullying, "it has been suggested that academic institutions benchmark the nature and prevalence of bullying behaviours".  We have asked the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Newcastle for a discussion on this and on our survey results - NO SURPRISE THAT THE ANSWER WAS "NO"!

 

The famous elephant in the room - the bullying is there but no-one can see it - let alone deal with it.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Have your say - The Guardian Bullying in academia survey

Here is a chance to have your say about what has happened to you at the University of Newcastle.  The Guardian newspaper is running a survey about bullying in academia.

You can remain anonymous if you wish and you can also decide if you want to name the University of not.

Read this first-hand account, answer their survey and/or contact them with more information.  Otherwise you can add a comment to their article.

http://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/blog/2014/oct/24/bullying-academia-universities-stress-support?CMP=twt_gu

GRAB THIS OPPORTUNITY!!!!

Silence?



Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph.
- Haile Selassie

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Trevor Waring - support for victims of bullying?

Honorary Fellowship for former UON Chancellor
07 October 2014

"Professor Trevor Waring AM, former University of Newcastle Chancellor, was made an Honorary Fellow at the recent Australian Psychological Society's annual conference.

With over 22,000 Australian Psychological Society (APS) members, this is a rare distinction. Fewer than one percent of the membership are represented by the category of 'Fellow', a privilege that Professor Waring had already held for a number of years.

The grade of Honours Fellow is bestowed rarely, with only 14 previous recipients in the Society's 50 year history. The fellowship is bestowed on existing fellows who have made an extraordinary contribution to APS and a distinguished contribution to the advancement of psychological knowledge or practice.

Professor Waring is a Clinical Psychologist and conjoint Professor of Psychology at the University of Newcastle."

This is an honour BUT what did he do for those of us bullied and victimised at the University of Newcastle?

Monday, September 22, 2014

Female to female bullying

  According to the latest workplace bullying survey,

  • Men are 69% of the perpetrators and females are 31%;
  • When men bully, females are 57% of targets and males are 43%;
  • When women bully, females are 68% of targets and males are 32%;
  • Overall, women are 60% of bullying targets and men are 40%.
So women tend to do less bullying but when they do, they predominantly bully females.

"But female bullies can be subtle and craftier than their male counterparts, says Marilyn Noble, who researches workplace bullying at the University of New Brunswick.

“Women tend to use relational aggression. It’s verbal, psychological, emotional bullying. People don’t recognize it – it’s covert, it’s harder to pin down and to prove,” she says.

There’s also a lot of reputation smearing, and female bullies often manipulate others into joining them, says Diane Rodgers, co-ordinator for the Bully Within, a B.C. group of professionals who have organized to fight workplace bullying."  (emphasis added) (Toronto Globe and Mail)

Is this how the many female bullies at the University of Newcastle, particularly in female-dominated areas like nursing, language, humanities, speech pathology, social work, etc, get away with bullying?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

World Suicide Prevention day

Today is World Suicide Prevention day (declared by an agency associated with the World Health Organization).

As David Yamada, a bullying expert, states "
"Conditions at work, especially severe workplace bullying, have been linked to suicides and suicidal ideation."
  • We know that 45 people (students and staff) have considered or attempted suicide because of the workplace bullying that they experienced at the University of Newcastle.  Furthermore, suggestions are that the suicides that have occurred (stafff and students) at the University of Newcastle may have been related to bullying.
  • We know that bullying continues at the University.
  • We also know that many people who have lost their jobs at the University because of speaking out about unethical behaviour, continue to battle depression and thoughts of suicide years afterwards.
If you or someone you know or someone you work with at the University of Newcastle is expressing or hinting at suicide, contact Lifeline or visit the website of the International Association for Suicide Prevention 

This is not the time to be a bystander; remember that 

·       The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing...
Albert Einstein.