Bullying prevention

Policy and procedure

Definition of bullying

Bullying in the workplace is defined by the Fair Work Act 2009 as:

"Repeated, unreasonable behaviours directed towards a worker or a group of workers that creates a risk to health and safety."

In a student context, the national definition of bullying for Australian schools says:

"Bullying is an ongoing misuse of power in relationships through repeated verbal, physical and/or social behaviour that causes physical and/or psychological harm. It can involve an individual or a group misusing their power over one or more persons. Bullying can happen in person or online, and it can be obvious (overt) or hidden (covert)."

"Bullying of any form or for any reason can have long-term effects on those involved, including bystanders."

"Single incidents and conflict or fights between equals, whether in person or online, are not defined as bullying."

What isn't bullying?

  • Appropriate reasonable and constructive feedback
  • The legitimate exercise of managerial authority
  • Social non-preference
  • One-off acts of unpleasant or disrespectful behaviour

Some examples of bullying behaviour

  • Calling someone insulting names or using an offensive or disliked nickname
  • Deliberately withholding information that is vital for effective work or educational performance
  • Forming a group against someone, or persuading others to exclude them socially
  • Using non verbal put-downs and intimidation such as finger signs, rolling eyes, continual staring, laughing at comments or mistakes
  • Damaging or interfering with personal property (e.g. changing the height of their chair, hiding material or work folders, opening their computer or desk without permission)
  • Verbal abuse
  • Implementing practical jokes where the victim is humiliated
  • Unfair allocation of work or rosters
  • Applying petty work rules that aren't applied to others
  • Making overt or implied threats of employment termination, low assessment, reduced work hours or demotion
  • Shouting or using abusive language
  • Constant, intrusive surveillance or monitoring of job performance
  • Setting someone up so that they receive negative consequences or admonition for things they have not actually done or that they did because of a lack of information
  • Unwanted touching or sexual remarks or intrusions into one's personal life of other kinds
  • Assault, pushing, blocking, or unwanted physical contact
  • Inappropriate comments about appearance, family members, or friends
  • Making life difficult for the other person in different ways, e.g. blocking their selection for a particular position etc.
  • Finding a mistake and exaggerating it in public
  • Organising meetings at impossible times
  • Using constant unreasonable criticism or sarcasm or always finding fault in trivial ways
  • Issuing public reprimands or belittling them in public
  • Using put-down remarks to ignore someone's input in classes or at meetings
  • Sending offensive text messages, faxes or emails or leaving offensive messages on answering machines
  • Spreading rumours or stories designed to harm someone's reputation
  • Disclosing another's personal information

**Bullying behaviour can be difficult to detect because of the enormous variation**

Rights and expectations of staff and students

  • Are responsible for their own behaviour and must not participate in or encourage bullying;
  • Are discouraged from using an intimidating interpersonal style characterised by disrespect, put-downs etc, although the behaviour may not constitute bullying;
  • Who believe they are being bullied, or who are aware of or witness bullying within the University should report it promptly in accordance with the Bullying Prevention and Management Procedure;
  • May face disciplinary action if they participate in or encourage bullying.

All staff and students have the right to:

  • a safe learning and working environment.
  • receive support from classmates and co-workers if they are being bullied.
  • express their objections to being mistreated.
  • make an informal or formal complaint about bullying without fear of reprisal and to expect that the complaint will be taken seriously and acted on.
StaffAs above, and:

Academic and teaching staff are expected to:

  • Take reasonable steps to stop students behaving disrespectfully in class or in other academic or teaching contexts; and
  • Report student behaviour consistent with bullying in accordance with the Bullying Prevention and Management Procedure.

Local managers (as defined in the Bullying Prevention and Management Procedure) are expected to:

  • Take reasonable steps to stop any behaviour which is consistent with bullying or which is disrespectful, even if unreported; and
  • Take seriously any reports of workplace bullying and investigate them promptly, confidentially and impartially; and
  • Publicise the terms of the Bullying Prevention and Management Procedure.