Tackling workplace bullying
Groups of workers are ganging up against colleagues to drive them to quit their job in a disturbing phenomenon known as “mobbing”.
The pack-driven scenarios involve teams of workers using psychological and in some cases even physical tactics to beat-down colleagues, resulting in a barrage of harassment that is almost inescapable for the victim. Mobbing continues online where cyber bullying, once considered only a schoolyard problem, takes hold, making life for the worker intolerable.
A new report on workplace bullying reveals as many as one in three Australians might have experienced abusive behaviour from a colleague. The report, titled Workplace Bullying: We Just Want it to Stop was released this week following an inquiry called in May. More than 300 “deeply moving” written accounts of workplace bullying were submitted for the report.
The report gave a number of recommendations, and among them, called for state governments to bolster their laws to charge serious offenders. It looked to the case of Brodie Panlock to act as an example.
In 2006, 19-year-old Victorian woman Brodie Panlock ended her life after enduring years of intimidation and bullying from co-workers at a café in Hawthorn. The shocking case spurred the Victorian government to introduce Brodie’s Law in 2011, which makes serious bullying a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
While this law is applicable in Victoria, committee chair Amanda Rishworth hopes it might set a national standard. "Workplace bullying is happening far too frequently in Australian workplaces," she told reporters. She said it occurs in all sectors and industries, with the report revealing teaching and nursing to have the most reported cases.
And it’s not just workers who are suffering. The Productivity Commission found workplace bullying costs the economy over $6 billion each year. But for such a prolific, costly issue the report highlights how difficult it is to charge perpetrators, and just how far we have to go to stop workplace bullying.
"We hope that this report forms part of the national conversation we need to have on this topic and offers ways for moving forward,” said Rishworth.
Sophie Miura is madison's health writer
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