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Workplace bullying

Workplace bullying is repeated, unreasonable behaviour directed towards a worker or group of workers, that creates a risk to health and safety.

  • Unreasonable behaviour means behaviour that a reasonable person, having regard to all the circumstances, would see as unreasonable, including behaviour that is victimising, humiliating, intimidating or threatening.
  • Repeated behaviour means an established pattern of behaviour and not a single incident.
  • Risk to health and safety includes risk to the mental or physical health of the person.
  • Worker includes all staff, contractors, consultants, volunteers, visiting appointees and visitors to the University.

Everyone has a right to:

  • work in an environment free from workplace bullying
  • be respected and valued at work
  • make a complaint if you feel you are being bullied or have observed workplace bullying
  • not be victimised for making a complaint.

Bullying can be perpetrated by, or occur to, any workplace participant. Bullying may occur between colleagues or up and/or down the organisational structure.

All workers must not engage in workplace bullying. Further, Deakin University encourage all workers to report incidents of workplace bullying if they experience or observe it in their workplace. Managers, supervisors and team leaders have further responsibilities to take reasonable and practical measures to prevent workplace bullying, to eliminate it if it occurs, to require workers to behave in appropriate ways and to respond where workplace bullying is observed or reported.

Workplace bullying policy

Workplace bullying procedure

What is bullying?

Behaviours that may constitute bullying include:

  • insulting or offensive language or comments
  • aggressive or intimidating behaviour
  • unjustified criticisms, complaints or the threat of making complaints
  • spreading rumours or misinformation
  • deliberately excluding someone from workplace activities
  • belittling behaviour (including public remarks or emails that may cause humiliation)
  • excessive intrusive surveillance or monitoring
  • nit picking and fault finding without justification
  • deliberately withholding or denying access to information, supervision or resources that are vital for effective work performance
  • constantly and inappropriately changing or setting unreasonable deadlines, tasks or targets
  • not giving an employee a say in how the job is done, when it is possible and reasonable to do so.

What is not bullying?

Reasonable management action, taken in a reasonable way, is not workplace bullying.

Workplace counselling, providing constructive criticism, managing performance or any other action in accordance with Deakin University's policies and procedures, does not constitute workplace bullying.

Differences of opinion and interpersonal conflicts are part of working life and do not constitute workplace bullying.

Why does workplace bullying occur?

Workplace bullying can occur for any number of organisational or personal reasons, such as:

  • poor interpersonal skills between staff or poor management skills
  • poor workplace relationships between staff members or between management and staff
  • workplace conflict
  • excessive or unreasonable work demands
  • personal animosity, prejudices, self-interest or dislikes
  • insensitivity to other staff members' personal welfare or needs.

Addressing bullying behaviours

The University has implemented policies and procedures to ensure that it provides a supportive, inclusive, fair and safe working and learning environment for its staff and students. These apply to employees and prospective employees, contractors, consultants, students, prospective students, clients and visitors.

For more information please go to the Human Resources staff webpages on inappropriate workplace behaviours, including workplace bullying (under Occupational Health and Safety).

Get advice

Workers who have concerns about bullying are encouraged to contact their manager/supervisor or any member of the Health, Wellbeing & Safety or Workplace Relations team in Human Resources.

Human Resources can assist you with any complaints of unfair and unreasonable behaviour, including workplace bullying. The University also has trained Harassment and Discrimination Contact Officers who can provide advice, support and information for people with any inquiries or complaints of unfair and unreasonable behaviour, including workplace bullying.

Deakin University will ensure that all complaints of bullying are treated in a sensitive, confidential, fair, and timely manner, that confidentiality of all parties is respected, and take steps to ensure people involved in all aspects of the resolution of complaints are protected from victimisation.

Consider addressing the issue directly

Telling someone that you find their behaviour inappropriate can be an effective way to resolve some complaints, especially where inappropriate behaviour is caused by ignorance or insensitivity rather than malice. It also provides for early intervention where resolution is likely to be most successful.

These strategies can assist you during the conversation:

  • stay calm and polite
  • focus on the behaviour, not the person
  • talk about the effects of the behaviour on you
  • make a clear request that the behaviour needs to stop.

Lodge a complaint

If you feel that the matter cannot be directly resolved or direct resolution has been unsuccessful, you can make a complaint in accordance with the process set out in the Deakin University Workplace Bullying procedure.

More information about bullying and fair work issues: Fair Work Commission

Information about student bullying


Page custodian: Equity and Diversity
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