Bullying & Harassment Resources

Please note the information below has been taken from the Australian Human Rights Commission and the State Work Health and Safety Authorities; this information is accurate as of April 2018.

What is Workplace Bullying?

The Australian Human Rights Commission defines workplace bullying as:

  • Verbal, physical, social or psychological abuse by your employer (or manager), another person or group of people at work.

The Australian Human Rights Commission provides a list of what workplace bullying can look like:

  • repeated hurtful remarks or attacks, or making fun of your work or you as a person (including your family, sex, sexuality, gender identity, race or culture, education or economic background)
  • sexual harassment, particularly stuff like unwelcome touching and sexually explicit comments and requests that make you uncomfortable
  • excluding you or stopping you from working with people or taking part in activities that relates to your work
  • playing mind games, ganging up on you, or other types of psychological harassment
  • intimidation (making you feel less important and undervalued)
  • giving you pointless tasks that have nothing to do with your job
  • giving you impossible jobs that can’t be done in the given time or with the resources provided
  • deliberately changing your work hours or schedule to make it difficult for you
  • deliberately holding back information you need for getting your work done properly
  • pushing, shoving, tripping, grabbing you in the workplace
  • attacking or threatening with equipment, knives, guns, clubs or any other type of object that can be turned into a weapon
  • initiation or hazing – where you are made to do humiliating or inappropriate things in order to be accepted as part of the team.

Not everything is bullying, there are some practises in the work place that may seem unfair but are not bullying. Your employer may transfer, demote, discipline, counsel or sack you, as long as they are acting reasonably this is not bullying.

Some types of workplace bullying are criminal offences. If you have experienced violence, assault and stalking you can report it to the police.

What you should know

It is your employer’s legal responsibility to ensure a safe and healthy work environment. Your employer has a duty of care for health and wellbeing whilst you are working. An employer who allows bullying in their workplace is not meeting their legal obligations or responsibilities.

What can you do?

The Australian Human Rights Commission provides the following information on what you can do if you are being bullied in your workplace.

Make sure you’re informed. Check to see if your workplace has a bullying policy and complaints procedure.

Keep a diary. Documenting everything that happens, including what you’ve done to try stopping it. This can help if you make a complaint.

Get support from someone you trust or contact support services. Even if you don’t know anyone you can talk to, there are support services that are immediately available to help and support you.

Approach the bully. If you feel safe and confident, you can approach the person who is bullying you and tell them that their behaviour is unwanted and not acceptable. If you are unsure how to approach them, you might be able to get advice from an appointed contact person, or from a colleague or manager.

Tell someone at your work. Your workplace will usually have a process for making a complaint and resolving disputes, which might include a warning, requiring the bully to have counselling, a mediation process, or even firing the bully if the situation continues. The person to talk to might be your supervisor/manager, a harassment contact officer, or a health and safety representative (if your work has one).

Get information and advice. If the bullying is serious, if the situation has not changed after complaining to your manager, or if there is not anyone you can safely talk to at work you can get outside information and advice.

The following organisations can be contacted for assistance:

  • your workplace health and safety authority to get advice and to make a formal report about bullying incidents;
  • state and territory specific work health and safety authorities (as outlined in the list below) to make formal complaints;
  • the Australian Human Rights Commission to get advice, or to make a formal complaint about discrimination, harassment and bullying covered by anti-discrimination law;
  • Lawstuff for legal information especially for young people;
  • The Fair Work Ombudsman, who provides information and advice on your workplace rights and obligations. Their main website covers all aspects of workplace entitlements and compliance for employees and employers.

Find out specifically about Bullying and harassment on their bullying and harassment page: https://www.fairwork.gov.au/employee-entitlements/bullying-and-harassment

They also provide a number of useful guides that you may want to download:

What are AACAI doing?

In 2018 AACAI conducted a survey to understand how practitioners in our industry may be experiencing bullying and harassment. The results were alarming and will require cooperation across the industry to redress some of the workplace issues unfortunately being faced by many of our members.

AACAI are preparing several measures based on this information, including a paper on the results of the bullying survey and a series of workshops for members to better know their rights and responsibilities regarding with bullying and harassment.

AACAI have also sought legal advice for persistent and recurring issues affecting our members in Victoria and NSW.

State Specific Resources

You can also report bullying incidences to the following state and territory work health and safety authorities

Australian Capital Territory

Worksafe ACT: Phone number 02 62073000

For specific bullying information https://www.accesscanberra.act.gov.au/app/answers/detail/a_id/3160/kw/Bullying

New South Wales

Safe Work NSW: Phone Number 13 10 50

For specific bullying information https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/snippet/whs-authorities-homepages/contacts-new-south-wales

South Australia

Safe Work SA: Phone Number 1300 365 255

For specific bullying information https://www.safework.sa.gov.au/show_page.jsp?id=5082

Tasmania

Worksafe Tas: Phone Number 1300 366 322 (within Tasmania) or 03 6166 4600 (Outside Tasmania)

For specific bullying information https://www.worksafe.tas.gov.au/bullying

Victoria

Worksafe Victoria: Phone Number 1800 136 089

For specific bullying information https://www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/pages/safety-and-prevention/health-and-safety-topics/workplace-bullying

Queensland

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland: Phone number 1800 177 717 (Workplace Bullying hotline)

For specific bullying information https://www.worksafe.qld.gov.au/injury-prevention-safety/mental-health-at-work/tools-and-resources/workplace-bullying

WA

Worksafe WA: Phone Number 1300 307 877

For specific bullying information http://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/worksafe/bullying

Contacting the Police

As noted earlier, if the bullying is violent or threatening it may be a criminal offense and in this sort of an urgent situation you should contact the police by calling 000.

If the situation is not urgent you can call 131 444 for all states and territories except for Victoria where you will need to visit a police station.