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 29, 2015

"The University (of Newcastle) is a model for integrity" - according to itself

Following the ABC Four Corners program on international student recruitment, claiming “corruption, plagiarism, widespread cheating and exploitation”,  Michael Robertson has written in The Australian that

"..for years universities have declared how much importance they attach to ethical practices. Look at any university website, search for values, mission, integrity, code of conduct and the like, and you will probably find impressive commitments to ethical standards and practices."

The University of Newcastle in its Code of Conduct states that one of its values is HONESTY which "involves acting lawfully and with academic integrity".

Another value is TRUST - "being able to rely on the integrity, honesty, capability, confidentiality
and fairness of others".

ACCOUNTABILITY - "committed to academic integrity and hold to account any unethical behaviour or wrongdoing.

"As a result, the University (of Newcastle) is a model for integrity".

Robertson continues, stating

"Universities should take their ethical responsibilities seriously, not just because most are answerable to taxpayers, or because they must comply with public sector ethical standards.

Society can quite reasonably look to universities to set consistently good ethical standards for others to follow. And universities must be willing to practise by the same ethics they teach their students in many disciplines, including in business ethics.

According to the Ethics Resources Centre in the US, “a strong ethical culture creates a happier, healthier organisation”. Unfortunately, when staff witness superiors turning a blind eye to conduct that seems inconsistent with the university’s own values and policies, the organisation’s ethical culture is diminished."

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Shock horror! Economists query the pay of top university administrators.

Foster and Frijters have dared to suggest what we all know;

"Capping the salaries of top university administrators, rather than using government debt to finance exorbitant payrolls for these bureaucrats, would help a bit."

Does the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Newcastle actually deserve/work hard enough to deserve a salary that is around EIGHT times that of a senior lecturer?

Are the salaries of the Deputy Vice-Chancellors of the University of Newcastle justified/justifiable (around SIX times that of a senior lecturer)?

Never mind the Pro-Vice Chancellors of each Faculty!!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Deny, silence, gag, defend,...........

"The University of Newcastle has defended a five fold increase of its spending on hospitality for its international student agents, saying it was due to a "training event". (ABC)

The university's Deputy Vice-Chancellor Andrew Parfitt has told the ABC that it has developed an extremely rigorous and comprehensive approach to protecting and maintaining academic integrity."

"The University of Newcastle provided documents showing it previously paid undisclosed commissions totalling almost $24 million to international student agents since 2010.

It has also revealed that money spent on hospitality for the agents soared from $8,000 to $36,000 last year.

The university said the extra spending was "an investment in a training event" in 2014."

$36,000 is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING for the University of Newcastle.

It spends endless amounts of money on using legal firms to get rid of whistleblowers,  providing higher salaries, rewards and promotion to academics who get rid of whistleblowers, to silence/gag students and staff who have been bullied/harassed/victimised at the University, paying senior management exorbitant salaries, keeping the vast media and spin department going, etc etc.

As a taxpayer, are you happy for your money to be used like this?

Would you like $36,000 to be spent on your next company event?

What about $24 million - yes, $24,000,000.00?

Friday, April 17, 2015

Another way that the University of Newcastle (mis-)uses taxpayers' money

So we know that large amounts of tax payers' money are used at the University of Newcastle to pay lawyers to protect staff accused of misconduct.

We know that large amounts of taxpayer's money are used to pay staff to remain silent about the bullying and harassment that they have suffered (it costs around $450,000 to gag a member of staff).  At least FIFTEEN people have reported that they have been gagged by the University to keep quiet about their bullying.

We also know that large amounts of money are used to keep the media machine going - to pay spin masters to aggressively market the University.

A new way of using the money that the University of Newcastle gets from taxpayers is to pay agents to recruit international students "despite widespread acknowledgement that a number of these agents are corrupt and deal in fraudulent documents". (ABC)

"The University of Newcastle (UON), which has paid previously undisclosed commissions totalling almost $24 million to agents since 2010, told Four Corners that it had also run into trouble with its offshore partners.

"In January 2014 UON terminated a contract with an agent as a result of an investigation that confirmed fraudulent documentation had been submitted by the agent as part of two student applications," a UON spokeswoman said.

The university has also recently splurged on hospitality for its agents. Last year, its budget for entertainment soared from $7,850 to more than $36,000. Its spokeswoman explained that, in 2014, "the university hosted a major summit in Australia for its offshore agents, as well as summits in regional hubs across Australia"."

Why are we not surprised?

Monday, April 13, 2015

"Fat cats slurping on the cream"

Caroline McMillen, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Newcastle, has a salary that is about
8 times
that of a senior lecturer!
Her salary increased by 13.8% between 2012 and 2013.

As HW says, "the whole deregulation debate has been propelled because universities are broke. Apparently they’re not."

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

"Surreal nightmare"


Comment from survey respondent (survey of staff/students bullied at the University of Newcastle):-

·      "My experience of reporting bullying at the University of Newcastle resulted in entering a surreal nightmare of a world where the truth no longer existed. The bullies (and the reputation of the uni) had to be protected and I was designated as a pariah, a non-person to be eliminated from academia."

"Holy moly, what hope is there then if this is the kind of behaviour that goes on"

A recent article in The Conversation on "Toxic Bosses" has elicited many comments.

What is heartening (but sad) about many of these comments is the disbelief and shock shown by commentators about the extent and nature of toxic bosses/bullying in workplace, especially universities like the University of Newcastle.
  • This is the saddest series of comments I have ever read. What is wrong with us? Where is the love we were filled with when we were born? And this Hell is being built in Universities! It reads like we are in a Gulag.
  •  The stories shared in this thread demonstrate how deeply entrenched toxic bosses are, even in universities.
  •  Change needs to come from the top and whilst universities continue to ignore evidence for bullying and harassment, nothing will change. Good people will continue to be forced out and suffer the consequences.
  •  Holy moly, what hope is there then if this is the kind of behaviour that goes on.
  •  Universities have also been known for toxic bosses, favoritism, nepotism, etc. and they seem to reward toxic bosses.
Have the management at the University of Newcastle become so inured to the bullying, harassment, corruption and misconduct that they consider it "normal"?

Are the University of Newcastle staff prepared to do ANYTHING to hang on to their power and privilege?

Are the staff at the University of Newcastle (rightfully!) too scared about the consequences if they speak out?

Thursday, April 2, 2015

SHOCK NEWS - a Vice Chancellor staying to deal with the long term!

"Congratulations: To Victoria University VC Peter Dawkins who has signed on for another well-deserved five-year term. In an era when the sight of universities managers skipping merrily between different institutions makes them look like careerists and squanders institutional knowledge and identity, it is good to see longevity at the top of public institutions. And given the complete policy uncertainty that universities face longevity is a rare commodity."  The Australian