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)

Thursday, June 25, 2015

$10.9 billion a year - cost of mental illness on work incapacity in Australia: What about the effects of bullying?

The ABC reports that

"Mental illness is the leading cause of long-term work incapacity in the developed world, with the cost to Australian employers more than $10.9 billion a year."

Of course, not all mental illness is a result of workplace bullying and harassment.  However, the survey of 195 staff and students from the University of Newcastle revealed the significant role played by workplace bullying issues in mental health.

As reported to the Parliamentary Workplace Bullying inquiry, the survey of University of Newcastle revealed that
"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 uterinebleeding, severe migrain headaches, heart arrhythmia”, “chest pain”, “facial tic”,” stress induced heart condition”, and weight loss.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Natural justice - does it exist for people at the University of Newcastle who have been harassed, bullied, victimised and ostracised because of their ethically-based actions?

"The rules or principles of natural justice, also known as procedural fairness, have developed to ensure that decision-making is fair and reasonable.
Put simply, natural justice involves 
-  decision-makers informing people of the case against them or their interests, 
-  giving them a right to be heard (the ‘hearing’ rule), 
-  not having a personal interest in the outcome (the rule against ‘bias’), and 
-  acting only on the basis of logically probative evidence (the ‘no evidence’ rule)." (NSW Ombudsman).

Monday, June 22, 2015

Look at this crazy man! How long would he last at the Unniversity of Newcastle?

Clint Smith, an American poet and teacher, says that we should all stand up for truth and against injustice. 

Watch his TED Talk here.

He says that one of his core principles that operates in his classroom is

How long would this man last at the University of Newcastle?
He would be silenced, gagged, lose his job and have his life, work, health and relationships destroyed.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT at the University of Newcastle

Academics "may be more cautious about speaking up when they see behavior that is questionable or when they have concerns about another faculty member".

Academia "is not a true meritocracy in the truest sense of the word for faculty members.  If you anger - or get the wrong side of - the wrong person, it can be difficult to advance, no matter how talented you are". Wilson

Are the staff at the University of Newcastle too scared to speak up, too self-involved to take the risk or are they so busy brown-nosing their managers and senior-management at the University that they cannot see anything at all?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Almost 200 people have been bullied at The University of Newcastle - like battered spouses?

"Being bullied at work most closely resembles the experience of being a battered spouse. The abuser inflicts pain when and where she or he chooses; keeping the target (victim) off balance knowing that [lateral] violence can happen on a whim, but dangling the hope that safety is possible during a period of peace of unknown duration. The target is kept close to the abuser by the nature of the relationship between them -- husband to wife or boss to subordinate or co-worker to co-worker.  WBI

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

"Newcastle didn’t do any soul searching ..... simply said it would promote its successes more vigorously"

"Gun boat diplomacy: Doug Eaton, the mayor of Wyong on the NSW Central Coast, last week got right up the nose of Newcastle University by threatening to establish an independent institution — while taking over Newcastle’s existing Ourimbah campus and proposed medical hub in Gosford. It was a wild and improbable dream, but Mayor Eaton reckons Newcastle has been treating the locals with disdain by offering them little subject choice and few full degrees. Of course the idea didn’t get past council but HW admires such brinkmanship. HW notes Newcastle didn’t do any soul searching over the brouhaha, simply said it would promote its successes more vigorously." The Australian - High wired

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Has the University of Newcastle's media machine got in the way of actually knowing what is going on?

"University of Newcastle VC Caroline McMillen makes much of the institution’s local mission, “we are working to realise our vision to deliver world-class education, research and innovation that supports the development of strong regional communities,” her website welcome states. But it seems not everybody in the university’s catchment got the memo, because there is a local government push on the NSW central coast for an independent university there. (Joanne McCarthy from the Newcastle Herald broke the yarn).
The university responded yesterday with a statement that the independence movement was news to it, that Uni Newcastle had invested and would keep investing in the region and that it is exploring more courses for its central coast campus at Ourimbah. Sounds like university management is late getting the word out."