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.  
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?"