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, May 30, 2014

Wasting taxpayers' money

"Seventy of the UK’s universities spent a total of nearly £19 million over four years on settling employment disputes, with a lawyer warning that higher education was spending more than employers in many other sectors in defending claims." THE

This included the cost of Human Resources personnel, internal legal staff and employing external lawyers.

One university (Cranfield University) paid out the largest total amount over the four years: £1.44 million.

We know that the University of Newcastle has a large internal legal unit to deal with employee disputes.  We also know that the University employs barristers, external lawyers and "independent" investigators to defend the university against disputes including complaints about bullying and gagging/silencing clauses.  There is also the cost of additional Human Resources staff, a complaints department and numerous marketing and public relations staff to promote the various anti-bullying programs that the University rolls out.

How much public money has the University of Newcastle spent in defending its staff at all costs against claims? 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Thorough and independent investigation needed

"There needs to be a thorough and independant investigation of all departments at Newcastle Uni . A family member of mine worked at the University for years, employed as a casual but with a workload far beyond anything expected of tenured staff. For years he was routinely bullied until finally he had a complete breakdown. He is now receiving ongoing counselling and he and his family are trying to move on after the devastation" (Comment - Newcastle Herald website).

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Concerned with the quality of education students are getting?

"I have seriously considered killing myself since I was bullied out of my work here for FOLLOWING policy and being concerned for the quality of education that the students were getting. Even after three years, the thought of ending it all is ever-present. I have done my best to keep my huge stress and despair quiet as I know that any sign of that is often used by the bullies and their friends as a means of getting rid of you or as a reason for your "mad" behaviour. My friends have "gone missing", family is close to breaking up, all other work disappears and previous close colleagues suddenly no longer know you...... This is what happens when you dare to speak out for the truth at this university, when you try to act for the benefit of students and your discipline and when you are not obsessed with POWER and your journey to the top." (website comment).

Monday, May 26, 2014


"Ostracism is just one of the many forms of bullying, it is also the most debilitating malevolent practice by bullies in their desire to eliminate a person from the workplace. To be shunned and treated like an outcast as though you have committed some unforgiveable crime strips away your self esteem, and breaks your heart and soul. 

I can forgive them for the many of the horrendous things that they did to me, but the wound of being ostracised by my colleagues and staff in my discipline, School, Faculty and eventually the University will stay with me for the rest of my life"
  (victim of bullying at the University of Newcastle).

Sunday, May 25, 2014

For the University of Newcastle bullies and for those bullied by staff at the University of Newcastle

"There comes a point in everyone's life when you realize that nothing will ever be the same, and you realize that from now on time will be divided into two parts: before this and after this." (The Fallen).

But at least we, who suffered the bullying and harassment, have our conscience and integrity intact.

Denying, discounting and dismissing torture/workplace bullying

Dr. Kenneth Pope has identified "three common cognitive strategies for denying, discounting, dismissing, or distorting instances of torture and for turning away from effective steps to stop it and hold those responsible accountable":
First, "reflexively dismissing all evidence as questionable, incomplete, misleading, false, or in some other way inadequate." 
Second, "using euphemism, abstraction, and other linguistic transformations" to hide the abuse.
Third, by "turning away: 'I'm not involved,' 'There is nothing I can do about it,' 'I have no authority, jurisdiction, power, or influence,' 'This is no concern of mine,' etc."
As Dr David Yamada points out, these can be readily and appropriately applied to workplace bullying
Think of the people who have been bullied, harassed and victimised at the University of Newcastle:-
Firstly, their accounts and evidence of workplace bullying at the University are usually dismissed.  Most people who have contacted us or completed our survey report that their complaints and evidence are routinely dismissed by the University.  Seventy survey respondents said no action was taken by their supervisor or human resources.  15 respondents have been bound to silence/gagged by the university.  A number have told us that their evidence was ignored or considered misleading and untrue.
Second, the University of Newcastle uses euphemisms and other terms to dismiss the bullying.  How many times have we heard it described as a "personality clash" or that it was "performance management"?  Is this the new face of performance management - being humiliated and ridiculed in front of others, being excluded and ostracised, being threatened with being denied or actually being denied promotion or leave. not allowed to attend meetings or even prevented from entering their own offices or buildings. etc etc.
Third, bystanders/onlookers/colleagues at the University of Newcastle frequently turn away or "do not see" what is happening.  Some colleagues realise quickly that their positions will be under threat if they support anyone being bullied - even more frequently, colleagues, managers and senior management know that their success at the University and climbing the ladder to more powerful positions in the University requires them to ignore unethical conduct, particularly staff misconduct, and align themselves with the bully.  For this, they are rewarded with  promotion, awards and funding. 
 Is workplace bullying comparable to torture?  As David Yamada says, "if the shoe fits.....".
stop bullying at UoN stop bullying and university of newcastle

Friday, May 9, 2014

Spot the difference????????

From Caroline McMillen on the University of Newcastle blog - November 29th 2012

This begins with the following paragraph:-
"This week saw the tabling of an important report on workplace bullying by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education and Employment. Bullying in the workplace is a topic that often generates polarised discussion. Some fail to appreciate that bullying can occur in any workplace, while others strongly believe that bullying is a problem in every workplace."
and on and on .....

From Caroline McMillen on her "From the VC's desk" blog - May 8th 2014

This begins with the following paragraph:-
"This week saw the tabling of an important report on workplace bullying in Australia by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education and Employment. Bullying in the workplace is a topic that often generates polarised discussion. Some fail to appreciate that bullying can occur in any workplace, while others strongly believe that bullying is a problem in every workplace."
and on and on EXACTLY THE SAME as in the blog of November 29th 2012. .......

"This week" was Monday 26th November 2012.

Self-plagiarism?  Deja vu?  - Check this for yourselves.

"Clothing retailer to pay more than $235,000 in damages for workplace bullying"

Clothing retailer Sussan has had to pay over $235,000 to an employee because of workplace bullying.

195 people have reported their bullying experiences at the University of Newcastle to us

If ONLY ONE HUNDRED of those 195 who reported bullying to us got a payout from the University of Newcastle (like Sussan had to do), the Uni would have to pay out $23,500,000 ($235,000 X 100).
No wonder the uni spends so much on legal expertise - the cost of barristers and solicitors would be small compared to this.

23,500,000 reasons for the University of Newcastle to destroy those people who report bullying, harassment and victimisation.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

University of Newcastle - how would it rate under the "Coalition for clean universities" audit?

The University of Newcastle is obsessed by rankings.  What about a ranking of universities with integrity?

The aim of this coalition was "to develop a university integrity ranking, both to name and shame those failing in their duties, and to celebrate and spread good practice.

The assessment focuses on four categories.

1. Transparency and responsiveness – looks at general information that should be freely available to all including universities’ ethics codes, sources of funding, recruitment procedures and a list of faculty, their CVs and the curriculum they teach.
Well we know that the University of Newcastle prides itself on its vast number of policies and codes of conduct - why do we receive so many reports of ethical breaches (theft, misuse of uni credit cards, soft marking, plagiarism, favouritism and bias in recruitment etc etc) ?  Liz Spencer

2.  Academic integrity, - the rules for reporting fraud, addressing misconduct and dealing with whistleblowers. It is by now well-known that the University of Newcastle states that misconduct must be reported BUT, in reality, anyone who reports any form of misconduct is harassed, victimised and hounded out of the University (contact us for many detailed reports of this).

3. Governance quality, evaluates procedures for recruitment, teaching and decision-making. Are jobs and fellowships properly advertised? Well, sometimes but policies and procedures for recruitment are often "flexible" with favouritism and policy breaches frequent.  Are examinations fair? (not always - but just "adjust the marks"). Is promotion merit-based or nepotistic? (we have many reports that academics at the University of Newcastle who are willing to cover up the misconduct of other academics are rewarded with being fast-tracked to the top).

4. Financial management, looking at the risks of embezzlement or other financial irregularities.The University of Newcastle has had issues regarding the misuse of university credit cards (Newcastle Herald and NSW Auditor General)  and fraud as well as the huge salaries and bonuses paid to the senior managers of the university. For example, in 2011, 
"Vice-chancellor Nick Saunders was paid a salary of $617,859 in 2010, performance pay of $119,394 plus performance pay from 2009 of $55,265. In total it was a pay packet more than twice that of the prime minister." (Newcastle Herald). 
The current VC apparently earns over $800,000 in a time when the median salary in Australia is $55,000. 

So where would the University of Newcastle rank as a "Clean University"?

Friday, May 2, 2014

Bullying, Cronyism and Narcissism at work - The unholy trio

According to Riggio (2013), there are "two other workplace evils that together with bullying constitute an "unholy trio" that when combines can make a workplace a living hell.  I have been made aware of leaders, bullies themselves, but who are able to attract cronies who will side with them and deny that the leader is a bully.  In fact, these cronies will represent to higher authorities that the bully-leader is a "caring and compassionate" leader, and that the victim is really the problem.  In exchange, the bully-leader gives favors and resources to these cronies, and the cycle of persecution continues for the poor victims."

 "Bullying, cronyism and narcissism thrive in the workplace because other employees (“bystanders” to the bullying process), and higher-level leaders, refuse to get involved. ..In the case of some higher-level leaders, the bully and cronies are able to dupe them with their assertion that the victim is the real problem  When that happens, it is usually because the leader is not doing his or her job of monitoring what is really going on at the lower levels of the organization.  In any case, the unholy trio continues ultimately because of a failure of leadership."  (Riggio 2013) John Germov Alison Ferguson