Bullying widespread

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Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 10.42.27 PMA survey conducted of NSWNMA members in the not-for-profit sector of aged care found a stunning 77% of respondents had witnessed bullying in their workplace.

Even more stunning was the frequency that bullying took place: nearly 20% of respondents witnessed bullying more than once a day and another 27% witnessed bullying every one or two days.

Six per cent witnessed bullying once per fortnight, the same number once per month and 13% less than once per month.

The survey covered members who work in an aged care facility that was covered by an Aged and Community Services template agreement; which includes the great majority of facilities run by not-for-profit, charitable, or religious organisations.

Under new national anti-bullying laws, which came into force from January this year, the Fair Work Commission has the power to order that bullying must stop.

The Commission also has the power to issue orders against individuals and employers, such as to direct an employer to develop policy and provide training to combat bullying.

The NSWNMA research found a relatively high awareness among aged care employees of these new legal powers at the Fair Work Commission’s disposal: 57% of respondents said they were aware of them.

NSWNMA General Secretary Brett Holmes says the level of bullying revealed in the survey is alarming and unacceptable.

“Even worse, we know that bullying can increase during bargaining as the less reputable employers try to pressure their employees.

“We will not stand by and let that happen. We hear the message from the workplace about bullying and we will stand by aged care workers.

“First off, the Association intends to run free workshops on bullying for aged care workers in this sector starting in April,” he said.


What to do if you are being bullied

  • If you can, tell the bully that their behaviour is unreasonable and inappropriate, and that you want it to stop.
  • Keep a written record of all bullying incidents including dates, times and witnesses to the behaviour.
  • If you feel threatened, try to have someone with you when you meet the bully, until the matter is resolved.
  • Check your employer’s policy and procedures on bullying and use them to lodge a complaint.
  • If you are having trouble making a complaint to someone in authority in your workplace, or are afraid to do so, contact the NSWNMA for advice.
  • You can also get more information about new national anti-bullying laws at the Fair Work Commission website: www.fwc.gov.au

New powers to act

Under new national anti-bullying laws that came into force at the beginning of this year the Fair Work Commission has the power to order that bullying must stop.

The Commission also has the power to issue orders against individuals and employers, such as to direct an employer to develop policy and provide training to combat bullying.

While amendments to the Fair Work Act give the Commission power to make an order that bullying must stop, the Commission cannot impose financial penalties or order reinstatement or compensation.

The amendments were designed to complement state workplace health and safety laws rather than replace them. They are designed to allow workers affected by bullying to apply directly to the Fair Work Commission for a quick and affordable hearing of their complaint.

If the Commission makes an order this does not prevent further action being taken under state work health and safety legislation.