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)

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The University of Newcastle knows what the "right" thing is to do

What happens at the University of Newcastle in cases of academic misconduct?


Note what happened in the case of Michelle Adams (as reported in the Newcastle Herald).

 "Adams has been on suspension since August 2009 with her mental health in question and faces an uncertain future after reporting allegations in September 2003 that two fellow academics plagiarised a student's honours thesis.

The case dates back to 2003 when it was alleged two academics used data collected by a student via personal interviews from more than 350 people over several months about cardiovascular disease, without her knowledge. Adams was the student's principal supervisor and reported the matter when it came to her attention.

The plagiarism case was finalised last year when the two academics in question were counselled about "the need to carefully and fully acknowledge authorship in all aspects of their work".(emphasis and highlighting added).

Also what about the professor who published data from patients and a uni employee without obtaining their permission - the punishment was to have a cosy chat with the PVC of the Faculty.

These academics continue to flourish at the University of Newcastle - if you are happy to go along with academic misconduct, you are a protected species!
Cartoon by Kate Sheridan

Monday, April 28, 2014

Effects of workplace bullying

A former bank employee has claimed that the workplace bullying he suffered has resulted in "psychological injury".

During a tribunal hearing, 
"The former bank worker rocked in his seat, walked with a stoop, avoided eye contact and spoke in a child-like voice as he told the tribunal how bullying by his bosses at NAB caused his mental health problems.

The claimant’s wife told the tribunal that Mr Azary was “totally dependent” on her, that she had to help him shower, shave and dress, and how she had to put her husband’s food out in front of him and then coax him to eat.

He could drive, she said, but only in emergencies."

A psychiatrist determined that "there was an 81.8 per cent chance Mr Azary was faking it."

In stark contrast, 195 victims of workplace bullying, harassment and victimisation at the University of Newcastle reported on a wide range of symptoms.

"More than half the respondents reported having sleep problems (61.5%) and depression (56.4%), with about one third also reporting headaches and constant tiredness. Around one-fifth reported digestive disorders (17.9% had digestive problems and 20% had nausea).

Of concern is the fact that 23.1% (i.e. 45 respondents) had suicidal thoughts.   Also of note is the relatively high number (40 respondents) who had increased their alcohol and smoking intake; furthermore 42 suffered from hypertension and the same number had a racing heart rate (palpitations).

Numerous respondents described being under extreme stress, “major anxiety disorder which is the polar opposite to my normal personality”, “constant panic at the workplace”, “random periods of tears”, “feeling under threat, walking on eggshells” or “feeling overwhelmed, extremely disliked, powerless, disenfranchised”.  Respondents also spoke of their depression as being “quite despondent”, lowered morale”, “constant panic” and being “diagnosed with clinical depression”.  As a result of the bullying, some respondents were looking for another position  and students reported wanting to withdraw from postgraduate study.  Respondents had suffered a variety of health issues including “dysfunctional uterine bleeding, severe migrain headaches, heart arrhythmia”, “chest pain”, “facial tic”,” stress induced heart condition”, and weight loss." (Submission accepted by the Parliamentary Workplace Bullying Inquiry).

Monday, April 21, 2014

Lessons to be learned regarding sexual harassment of University students......

University Of Missouri Mishandled Sexual Assault Case, Review Finds

"An independent report released Friday says the University of Missouri failed to follow parts of the federal law that governs sexual harassment on campus when handling the case of a former swimmer's suicide.

The report concludes administrators on the Columbia campus should have investigated 20-year-old Sasha Menu Courey's 2011 death after her parents raised questions about the events leading to her suicide. Menu Courey alleged she was sexually assaulted during her freshman year by as many as three football players, 16 months before she died."

"The report makes no specific recommendations for possible changes but instead provides a detailed accounting of the university's response. Among its primary findings: The university lacked a policy advising employees of their obligations to report suspected sexual assault and harassment, which federal law suggested." (Huffington Post).

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

At least the University of Newcastle is consistent!

“The University of Newcastle, ...... faced many difficulties, and instead of admitting there were problems and endeavouring to correct them, generated poor public relations by appearing to refuse to admit that any problem existed, “ Biggs 2002

University of Newcastle rides high in the rankings

The rates of workplace bullying in Australia are amongst the highest in the world (ABC news)

The University of Newcastle wants to ride high in rankings compared to the rest of the world - it certainly rides high in the workplace bullying rankings in Australia and would probably rank high in the workplace bullying rankings of the world.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

University of Newcastle still searching for a Chief Information Officer!

The University of Newcastle is once again searching for a Chief Information Officer - in the last two years, the turnover in this position has been rapid with Mark Pigot only staying for three months last year.  Why did he not stay?  Was there bullying? 

This issue has been previously discussed on this website.

Now the position is being advertised again -

As we stated before, is there an issue moving the University up the rankings from near 300th place to being a "world leader"?

Or is the issue related to the leadership of the University as per the job advert?
"Under the leadership of the Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Caroline McMillen, the University of Newcastle is embarking on an ambitious new strategic plan, NeW Directions 2013-2015. Delivery of the goals and targets in this plan will require an outstanding leadership team."

Is it normal for Chief Information Officers to appear and disappear so frequently ?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Yes, we do need whistleblowers!

"The reality is that all organisations hate having their inner workings exposed, the more so if it incurs collective odium and risks jobs. The wagons gather into a circle to defend a wounded superior. The gossip-mongers get to work on the whistleblower's reputation. Why could he not just live and let live? What is the harm in a bit of misconduct?

More to the point, whistleblowers are rarely club players. They are usually driven to break ranks through a sense of moral outrage that eludes their colleagues, despite knowing that it will probably bring pain and ostracism. It is thus easy for the organisation to dismiss them as weird, as grasses, snitches, friends of any enemy, even if the enemy is the public interest."
"I see whistleblowers as strange, brave and necessary mavericks. I realise why any organisation spits them out like poison. They break the glue of discipline, the bond of faith between individuals that is required for any joint enterprise. They threaten the institution in claiming to decide for themselves what should be the boundary between confidence and disclosure.

Yet as organisations and, above all, government get ever more powerful, making them account for their activities becomes ever harder. All dealings between individuals require a degree of confidentiality, but, especially in public bodies, the line between secrecy and transparency must be patrolled. If it cannot be patrolled from outside – if misconduct is rife – the last resort is from within. That requires exceptional protection which few at present seem to get." (full report)

Those of us who have been harassed, victimised and bullied out of our jobs at the University of Newcastle spoke out (but within the University) about misconduct - usually University academic staff misconduct. 

Universities are publicly funded -
-   Do you as taxpayers want your hard-earned money supporting academics who behave unethically?
-   Would taxpayers prefer us to keep quiet about what we saw and experienced, and just kept quiet and  joined in with the misconduct and unethical behaviour?
-   Do you want your money used by the university to pay for legal fees to defend these unethical academics?
-   Do you want your money used by the University to pay and gag whistleblowers so that their voices cannot be heard?
-  Do you want your money spent on educating students to a high level?
- Do you prefer your money to be spent on huge salaries for senior management ($800,000)?