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.

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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, November 23, 2017

A classic case of workplace bullying and ostracism?

The following summary (submission 53) was obtained from 


From 2003 to 2007 (a period of five and a half years), I worked predominantly within the speech pathology discipline as a part-time or casual lecturer, course co-ordinator, researcher and/or clinical educator with the then head of discipline, XXXXXXX   (“ XXXXX   ”). During this period, my conference presentation and paper publication rate was similar to or greater than most other staff members in the discipline. I also contributed a substantial amount (around one to two days a week) of my own unpaid time supporting students, ongoing and casual staff. I was involved in a number of external grant applications and had an NMHRC UQ administered post-doctoral fellowship for three years. For four years I was on an annually-renewed contract as a clinical educator with the university’s highly successful aphasia groups, run as a joint project between the speech pathology discipline and XXXXXXXX, XXX XXXX.

During this lengthy period, I also discussed a number of problems that arose within the discipline with XXXXX  . These problems included soft marking, being told to ignore plagiarism, staff absences due to personal interests, unfair, incorrect and unrepresentative exam papers and assignments, as well as a lack of preparation and support for students on their clinical placements, amongst other difficulties. On all these occasions, XXXX   was receptive to these difficulties and spoke openly about the staffing difficulties she was having.

In mid-2007, a new ongoing lectureship was approved for the discipline.  XXXX approached    (“XXXX   ”) to fill the position.   XXXX did not fulfil the essential criteria for the position and was the only person interviewed. Furthermore, there was a conflict of interest on  XXXX  ’s part during the recruitment process. I discussed these anomalies confidentially with the Faculty representative in Human Resources.

Reprisals against me were swift, immediate and devastating. I have been subject to “harassment” and “bullying” as defined in Policy XXXXX   This situation is known to the Head of School, Humanities and Social Sciences, and to Human Resources but no action has been taken.

In December 2007, on the second working day after my HR meeting and whilst I was still employed, I was told by XXXX   that I was hostile and could not work with a team. She told me to relocate my office and refused to renew my aphasia group contract, despite the fact that the groups had already been organised for the following year and that around 30 patients would be without therapy. She said that I must not contact her directly – only via the head of school. She later also told me that I could not enter my office during working hours. At that stage, I was using software licensed to my computer for my NHMRC research (on which  XXXXXXXXX was an investigator). It then took two and a half months before I was able to continue my NHMRC research in my new office. I had a personal item stolen and was physically prevented from attending meetings, obtaining my mail and removed from all mailing lists or any contact with Speech Pathology, despite XXXX   being my “supervisor” on the NHMRC project and also despite my name and personal website appearing on the speech pathology discipline webpages.

Subsequently, I have been ostracised by the majority of SP academia in Australia. My applications for employment as a lecturer/researcher and email contact with colleagues in other universities are not acknowledged and previous teaching in Sydney has been discontinued. I have been unable to obtain employment as a lecturer and/or researcher within speech pathology. At conferences and workshops within Australia, my research colleagues actively scorn me.  XXXX ’s lack of involvement in the NHMRC resulted in our research data being incomplete.

In April 2010 I made a Protected Disclosure to   XXX, VC of the University as well as a complaint regarding the reprisals that had been taken against me. Both these were dismissed by the university.
I was subsequently employed within the School of Architecture and the Built Environment at the university (March 2009 to February 2012). When my contracts came up for renewal at the start of the academic year (2012), the Pro-Vice Chancellor refused to allow any further employment contracts be issued to me, despite the fact that my contract, number of hours and number of students had already been arranged within the Head of School. I have never been notified of the reasons for this, or contacted by the Head of School. I am now not employed."

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