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Workplace bullying – the silent epidemic in our workplaces?

Jul 27, 2012Hot Topic

The Federal Government has launched an inquiry into workplace bullying across the country. Does more need to be done to address the issue of bullying in our workplaces?

The Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Bill Shorten MP called for the inquiry following the death of 19-year-old Brodie Panlock in Victoria, who killed herself after being constantly bullied at the café she worked at in 2006.

The Federal inquiry has been asked to look at the extent and causes of bullying in the workforce, and will consider proposals to prevent the culture developing in workplaces.

The Australian Federation of Employers and Industries has told the inquiry that there’s no need for new or expanded pieces of legislation to deal with bullying because they say it’s already too complicated.

But the ACTU and its affiliated unions say in their submissions to the inquiry that unions have long recognised the serious problems posed by workplace bullying and the broader problems posed by related psychosocial hazards including harassment, occupational violence, fatigue and work overload.

They say it’s not just employee to employee bullying that’s a problem – bullying behaviour is often alleged to be from management practices or the application of the corporate structures and policies of the workplace.

Brodie Panlock’s death led to new anti-bullying laws, known as Brodie’s Law, being introduced in Victoria and her parents believe protections should be extended elsewhere in the country to help protect other employees, particularly younger workers, from the devastating effects of bullying.

The inquiry will report to Federal Parliament in November.

You can see the ACTU’s submission to the inquiry here.

The Prime Minister has described bullying as a “silent epidemic” – what’s your view? Should other states also have more stringent laws to protect workers from bullying?