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.

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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, 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).


  1. I developed PTSD after studying at the University of Newcastle.

    The bullying has got to stop.

    In some cases it was even worse than bullying, the head of school was just plain sick and sadistic. His paranoia and aggression became terrible. He created so much misery because he was never questioned on anything.

  2. After being bullied and cyberstalked by the head of school, I began to disintegrate. He talked me down in conferences and made me the target of disparaging remarks behind my back (like I was crap at what I was doing and worth pitying only)

    He later cut any access to any valid tuition in my honours year. I specialised in an area during honours without any valid tuition. He also ensured my poster was expertly defaced by the administrative staff to further demoralize and destroy.

    It worked. By the time I tried to attempt masters not only was the faculty and staff morale in ruins. So was I. I used to think about suicide and later my mind started to completely lose its track. The supervisor I was forcibly allocated was quite happy to witness this without any cause for action on her behalf. She witnessed me struggle to the point of incoherence and yet did nothing. She sarcastically said I 'had more than a few problems'.

    Later I reapplied after a year's rehabilitation. Previously the university cancelled my enrolled by phoning me anonymously as 'graduate studies' but said I could re-enrol.

    When I did, my well researched proposal was rejected with a single letter and with no evidence of it having actually being cited by anyone else like he claimed. He knew I was struggling financially so also mentioned that not only was the topic rejected but there was no chance of a scholarship. I have a recorded copy of a
    conference with the postgraduate coordinator (newly appointed by the head of school ) lying through his teeth about why the proposal was rejected. This postgraduate coordinator has never published any research or even knew about the current changes to the honours program. Both head and coordinator both received awards for achievement from the University.

    When I complained the lack of evidence to counter the proposal I complained to graduate studies who said it was at the "head of school's discretion'. Wanting further clarification I complained to the Dean of graduate studies who then prefabricated more evidence against the proposal. He also claimed there was no anonymous caller. He also claimed that this time another head of school from another faculty and two "senior staff members" had read it thoroughly yet I wasn't allowed to read what they had read or even know their names.

    When I complained that the solution to the complaint was being levied by the very persons I had taken issue with originally they stopped answering my questions. Later I discovered my student email address was removed.

  3. Anyway that was my story.

    My recovery was very slow at first. I used to fidget and talk incessantly, sometimes to myself. The medicines to control the psychosis and depression placed my mind in a kind of coma. I used to relive what happened over and over again. I became an serious caffeine addict. I used to wander the streets with my mind so full of sorrow I sometimes wanted to die. I kept thinking why over and over. I used to be so dignified and capable.

    What saved me was my patience. Even though I was on a disability pension I donated regularly to the world food program. Man does not live on bread alone. The fact I was helping someone even worse off and starving used to bring me such peace to my ravaged mind and body.

    Repeat listening of Abba's last album The Visitors brought my grief some congruence. Other hearts break.

    I also tutored students and I was very encouraging and generous with them. Some of them were from disadvantaged backgrounds like myself and I taught many of them for free. Some of them said I inspired them and I was humbled.

    This is what saved me. I was reminded by children I was still worthwhile and valuable.

    The pain of my mental illness was incapacitating at times. I found activities like catching the bus sometimes like being in the shadow of hell itself. Reliving the most terrifying moments of your life in some kind of endless repeat doesn't come close to describing psychosis.

    Yet through my kindness and humility I could see many people were kind and that I was still loved. I felt myself gradually recovering. I eventually learned new skills and conquered new challenges.

    My anger eventually faded away. Like the song when all is said and done, no one is to blame in the end. Man betrays with a kiss not with a sword.

    I survived 2 and a half years of absolute hell, that is enough.

    I have emerged older wiser and much more loving. The future is good again. I sometimes want to refute the existence of a higher power yet in my darkest and desperate moments something great good and powerful was guiding me the whole time.

    I cannot vouch for the experience of others but I would give my life to stop someone else having to go through the same experience I did. Though in saying this I was forged in the fires of hell, the strongest always are. I am grateful for what made me the great person I am today.