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, March 6, 2015

The University of Newcastle defines what bullying is and then ignores it when it happens

University of Newcastle provides examples of workplace bullying on their website:- 

We have received many reports of these examples of workplace bullying.
 “Examples of workplace bullying”
Some examples reported to us of  bullying behaviours experienced at the University of Newcastle
physical or verbal abuse towards a person or group of people
- Swearing at me and hit me when I denied to sign the document without reading.

My manager has told me she hates me in front of others, said she is going to punch me,
- I consider myself a strong person, but having felt death was the only way out of the abuse I have been subjected to,
- My personal contact details (phone number and personal email address) have been abused by this person to intimidate and harrass. After he initially sent me offensive messages when he was drunk one night I spoke to my supervisor and her surpervisor and an agreement was reached which hasn't been carried out. 

yelling, screaming or offensive language
- And she screamed, so loud that the whole office heard it. "Hey you .... you are supposed to do this yourself not lab manager. I have told you before... I have told you before these students..... etc".
- shouts at me when noone else is around,
- supervisors yelling at students.

- My manager …yelled at me for things that are not my fault in front of others,

spreading rumour or innuendo about someone
- I have learnt that the rumours and allegations are still being spread despite my absence.

- A co-worker has been given the 'silent treatment' from another colleague who spreads nasty rumours and makes unfounded allegations. They have been spoken to about it but it doesn't make much difference. It makes for a very difficult work environment when there is constant malicious rumour spreading and unprofessional behaviour.
- Lab samples were "dissappeared", lab and office space access denied, rumours were generated and threats were made.

- Never mind the total lies she had made up about me, the rumours she had started about me and a (much older) colleague

excluding or isolating staff
- Several occasions staff members excluded by being spoken over or their views disregarded.

- other staff members who are not part of the ruling elite have been pettily reprimanded, excluded etc, they have left at the end of last year.

- Both staff members were sidelined and isolated. Their authority stripped.

- My situation involves silent bullying; isolation, no support when a student should be receiving support. It's impossible to prove

- I was punished (enforced isolation and loss of career) for exposing misconduct/bullying

- I have also had other committee members openly ridicule me at meetings for insisting on correct OH & S procedures and rules, then intimidate me further by slandering me in online forums, using standover tactics and other intimidating behaviour.

- I believe it is illegal to work 14 days straight but I have felt so intimidated that I felt I had to do so.

unjustified criticism or complaints
- Working many more hours than one is paid for is common in academia, but doing it with constant criticism and hostility is something different again

- I have witnessed gossip, unsubstantiated criticism and discrimination that goes on regarding this new staff member.

- Most of all, they treated me as worthless, constantly criticised my work in a way that was not at all constructive, and spoke badly of me to their peers and mine.

psychological harassment
- One of the students has been even threatend by the Offie of Graduate Studies to be chased out though legal channels if she doesn't stop fighting against the Univrsity

- I applied for a change, only to be told by the people in charge that they didn't believe me and insisted I stay with XX. Eventually I was threatened with expulsion if I didn't stay with them.

- The situation was 'resolved' by the university telling me to stop making complaints and threatening to expel me unless I accepted the abusive situation

undermining work performance by deliberately withholding information that is vital for effective work performance
- Same boss dominating her own PA and numerous staff reports (privately) of being 'cut off' (left out of work discussions/meetings/emails) or ignored, as well as unapproachability of this boss

-Examples of bullying are speaking to the person in a derivative tone, withholding information the person needs to do their job, not approving leave.

deliberately changing work arrangements, such as rosters and leave, to inconvenience a particular employee
- giving me time-consuming duties (my duties are constantly changed) which taking me away from my real responsibilities

- She now is endeavouring to change my whole job/role, change my work hours and force me to do what she wants with no negotiation.

- As the 'bully' is also my manager she has the power to refuse leave, decline to renew my contract, affect my work arangements, refuse applications for promotion, etc.

- Leave not approved.
 So ......
Respondents to our survey experienced the bullying behaviours defined by the University of Newcastle.
  • 41% of 195 respondents told their supervisor or manager about it 
  • 28% spoke to Human Resources (28%) 
  • 24% spoke to their union (24%)
  • Therefore Human Resources was aware of at least 55 cases of bullying and the union of at least 47 cases. 
  • 44% (72 respondents) had filed a formal complaint about their bullying experiences.
So what did the University of Newcastle do?
  • For 36% of respondents, no action was taken by their supervisor or human resources
  • 8%  (15 respondents) have been bound to silence/gagged by the university and thus were unable to provide information.
  • Only 3% (6 respondents) obtaining a satisfactory outcome to the investigation of their complaint.
The same old story - as long as a policy exists is all that matters to the University of Newcastle.    No need to actually follow or act on the policy.


  1. I was told my course was cancelled by an anonymous woman in graduate studies. I have been financially bereft ever since. Why does the faculty I was supposed to study at behave like that? Why even offer the course in the first place?

    I had given up on consulting the Head of School after the joke he had made about pedophilia and teaching and his condoning of drug use. My step brother died after drug use.

    During said course I was given no choice of supervisor and then half way it changed. The next supervisor I will call X was busy labelling other students in public as "duds" and then wondered later why that attitude led one student to insist on outside tuition. Over the 6 months X began gradually began abusing me with demeaning comments and cruelty.

    I met with X three times over the semester and X spent most of the time texting and emailing. When I questioned this behaviour X attacked me verbally. X attacked my ability, my reputation, my chances of ever sustaining a career.

    X said the text messsages were for my other supervisor which turned out to be a lie.

    It's no surprise I used to pray before the meeting with X. I had become more and more afraid of that person. The last "session" was so damaging I had to go to the Mater hospital later on. That is one situation perhaps where even God cannot help you.

    The equipment supervisor I was allotted has now had 5 official warnings about misconduct and is still there. He is a violent bully with a history of drug use.

    Anyway, I asked for the University's help and was offered no medical help or any kind of support at all. I am lucky to be alive.

    The next few years were really bad. I used to slip into such a deep depression it felt like I was in a coma. Money was very tight, I got used to rationing food. I still have to be careful to make sure the disability pension money lasts.

    X drives an imported car and regularly travels to Europe.

    Even now X makes faces at me in public, really aggressive and horrible. I sometimes wish I had died after that last meeting,

    My dignity and worth as a person mean nothing. Even in public X has to try and humiliate me, three years later. Is what that person has done not enough? I am destroyed, I will never be anything special and will struggle with poor health for the rest of my life. I am terrified of X.

    Life does come full circle. I am badly traumatised but I have learnt not to ask the University for help.

    Actually my advice is if you are being bullied at the University of Newcastle is to just leave. Don't think they will help you, they won't.

    If you don't want to turn out like me, you should leave before they destroy you completely.

  2. It stands to reason that if any University wrote the book on bullying it UoN. Now they also want to be an authority on preventing it. A boat only sinks once.

    Their NeW attitude proves nothing. Where are the results? Is it possible that all of this can exist.

    A true anti-bullying stance would involve an external anti-bullying agency with a strong overseas contingent. They will never enter into this because of what it will expose. Lies, corruption and shocking greed.

  3. The last attempt X made to bully me was at a train station. It was filmed. I have the footage. One more incident and I can press charges given testimonials from other students and staff members who were also bullied.

    One more incident (hopefully on camera) and I can claim damages and ongoing medical costs.

    1. I don't know why you would bother. I have also had to deal with X. Half of X's qualifications are forged.

      Many staff members have said X is unstable and unpleasant. At least two mentioned X was the reason they quit teaching at the faculty.

      Many of X's students either end up becoming as much of a bully as X or they have their career destroyed.

      We are talking about someone who doesn't care about other people in the slightest. X is a serial user, pathological liar, phoney. X is also completely aggressive nightmare.

      Let X smirk in public.
      You are better than that. Don't dirty your hands touching s::t like that.