28 February 2010


Victorian Workplace Bullying Seminars

Work Safe Victoria, Victorian WorkCover Authority.


Bullying is a community problem that exists in schools, workplaces and other organisations.

Register for free workshops

Bullying is repeated, unreasonable behaviour directed to an employee or group of employees that creates a risk to health and safety.

WorkSafe's research consistently shows 14 per cent of Victorian workers experienced bullying.

Download the WorkSafe bullying poster for your workplace.

As well as creating a risk to health and safety, bullying can impact an organisation through reduced productivity, staff turnover and legal costs.

The WorkSafe guide, Preventing and responding to bullying at work, will assist people with duties under occupational health and safety (OHS) to comply with those laws in relation to bullying at work. The following tools can be used to help implement the advice in the guide: What to do if bullying happens to you, Employer checklist - preventing and responding to bullying at work and the Bullying risk indicator.

This publication provides advice applicable to any workplace in Victoria.

Order a copy of Preventing and responding to bullying at work

It contains information for employers and employees (including volunteers) in any job or industry.

Preventing and responding to bullying at work
At these free sessions we’ll be providing practical information on how to prevent bullying in your workplace and how to respond if it does happen. These sessions will be useful for employers, managers, supervisors and health and safety representatives from businesses of all sizes, from all industries.

Attendees will receive a pack of resources to take back to the workplace to help develop systems that will prevent bullying, respond to reports of bullying and effectively meet legal duties under occupational health and safety laws.

26 February 2010

COMMENTARY - Who is Gordon Brown? Is he a Bully? What darkness lies behind Gordon Brown's aggressive personality?

Gabby Logan

Gabby Logan freely admits she had a 'meltdown' when she turned up too late to board the Eurostar in Paris

Gabby Logan freely admits she had a 'meltdown' when she turned up too late to board the Eurostar in Paris and was escorted from the station after being caught trying to crawl under the barrier.

A new book sensationally claims Gordon Brown pushed around people in his office and stabbed the back of a cream car seat repeatedly with a black pen while an official cowered next to him.

Unrepentant, the Prime Minister declares: 'I'm not perfect - but I know where I come from and what I stand for.'

Gordon insists he's angry with himself, not others, but the impression remains that this big bruiser is frightening to be around when he erupts.

Another difference between Gabby and Gordon: she fessed up to her strop on her blog, made a joke and said sorry.

For Gordon to admit having a temper would be construed as a sign of weakness - he now sees himself as the victim of a hostile media.

If he behaved so appallingly, why didn't any of those on the receiving end speak out? In my long experience, this kind of volatile behaviour is pretty common, and when male bosses lose their temper, they usually get away with it.

I've been an executive and I've been a boss. When I was in charge and lost my temper, I was called 'crazy' by my critics. When men behave in this fashion, they're described as 'forceful' or 'opinionated'.

When I dared to sack or criticise anyone, I was berated as erratic. When a man does the same, we say he's 'decisive'. Anger in the work place is all about double standards, as I know only too well.

Once, my boss at the Beeb was so annoyed at my failure to get a comedy star to appear in a show that he went beetroot, screamed his head off, smashed a pencil through a thick notepad and threw everything on his desk on to the floor.

I thought he was having a fit and wondered if I should call for medical help. Two minutes later, his pallor returned to normal and he resumed our conversation as if nothing had happened. I left the room, shaking. The incident was never referred to again.

See Westminster Parliament MPs erupt over Question Time when Gordon Brown is questioned on Workplace Bullying, in 6th May 2009.

Also below some more of Brown's Best Bits, also see Bullying Question asked at 2:10 mins

Gordon Brown

A new book claims Mr Brown pushed around people in his office and stabbed the back of a cream car seat with a black pen while an official cowered next to him

When I told someone else, I discovered they had experienced a similar strop. We didn't report this man for bullying, but accepted it as part of the high-pressure world in which we worked.

Gordon's temper tantrums are replicated in offices all over Britain. Lots of us will have the misfortune to sit through the frightening experience of a boss in meltdown. Why do we put up with it?

One reason is that we accept anger in men far more readily than in women. Female bosses who lose their temper are seen as less competent, according to a study by Yale University.

It concluded that angry men will earn a higher salary, get a better job and be more successful than bad-tempered women. And female workers are more tolerant of men who behave badly than they are of women. Anger remains a male privilege.

If men apologise for losing their temper, it works against them - research shows we don't rate their chance of succeeding so highly afterwards. But if women apologise, then it can actually help them.

That might explain why Gordon Brown is not going to admit very much. I admit I've been guilty of Brown-style swearing and cussing in the workplace - maybe I've just worked with too many men. But I haven't stooped to ranting and raging in a taxi in front of witnesses.

Isn't there something rather worrying about the revelation that our Prime Minister gets into his official car and spends the journey smashing his fist into the back of the seat in front or defacing it with a pen when he's in a strop?

That sounds like a toddler who can't get his way, not someone who's supposed to be leading us back into the black and out of recession.

Disraeli said 'a person's fate is their own temper'

We shall see if it's true for Mr Brown.


24 February 2010

PROFILE - UK's National Bullying Helpline Christine Pratt Speaks Out on Lord Mandleson's denial over Workplace Bullying by PM Gordon Brown

The founder of the National Bullying Helpline who is at the centre of the storm surrounding the Prime Minister's alleged bullying.

Profile: Christine Pratt and the National

Bullying Helpline

Charity boss who claimed Downing Street staff called bullying hotline faces uncomfortable questions about her past and business interests.

Christine Pratt, the founder of the National Bullying Helpline

Christine Pratt, the founder of the National Bullying Helpline.

The charity boss who claimed a number of Downing Street employees called her anti-bullying hotline to complain of workplace mistreatment was facing scrutiny today over her alleged behaviour and business affairs.

The most serious allegations concern claims that Christine Pratt, who runs the National Bullying Helpline (NBH), used the helpline to solicit business for the HR consultancy she runs with her husband.

One woman said that when she rang the helpline for "confidential, free advice" four years ago after being bullied at work, she was referred to Pratt's firm, HR & Diversity Management (HRDM), which provides mediation services, and paid them £250.

The Charity Commission investigated the helpline in 2008 after complaints that the NBH's website was registered by a business specialising in supporting those being bullied in the workplace. The commission found no wrongdoing but today said the charity would be reviewed "in light of the issues raised over the weekend and the complaints received today".

Jo Anne Brown, the founder of Just Fight On, a not-for-profit anti-bullying organisation, said she had received a number of complaints in the past three years from people upset after calling the helpline and being directed to Pratt's commercial business.

Adrian Melia, who runs Humane Resources, an employment dispute assistance service, said today he had complained to the Charity Commission some years ago about what he believed was a "conflict of interest" between the NBH and HRDM.

Pratt said that the referral arrangement had been approved by the Law Society.

Melia's concerns about the hotline were ignored led him to launch a blogwith the tagline 'The Bullying Helpline – the last thing you need if you're being bullied,' which lists various complaints made against Pratt and her charity.

Melia said he had twice raised the potential conflict of interest issue in 2007 and 2008 by writing to Professor Cary Cooper, the NBH patron who today resigned from the charity, although he received no response. Cooper today said he discussed Melia's complaints with Pratt, but the Charity Commission exonerated her in its 2008 investigation.

"Yesterday I made up my mind to leave after the breach of confidence of the highest order," Cooper said.

On the NBH website, anyone thinking of ringing is reassured: "Your call is confidential to us and you will be treated with dignity and respect at all times."

Ann Widdecombe, the Conservative MP for Maidstone and the Weald, became patron to the charity several months ago. She admitted she had recently made preliminary inquiries into the charity because of a complaint lodged with the Charity Commission "a little while ago".

"The charity commission had not found any wrongdoing and I was proceeding to look further," Widdecombe said.

Doubts were also raised over Pratt's claim to have beaten workplace bullies herself.

In 2003, an employment tribunal rejected her claim for unfair dismissal from her former employer, Sanden International (Europe Ltd). In thepublicly available judgement dismissing her appeal against the tribunal's decision, Pratt was found to have sent notes considered "discourteous and hostile" and "aggressive, accusatory and confrontational". She had also screamed in a colleague's ear.

The tribunal also dismissed Pratt's claim for discrimination on the grounds of race and sex and a claim that she had been paid less than a male comparator.

Pratt's decision to go public with the complaints relating to Downing Street sparked protests from other anti-bullying campaigners.

Another charity, Bullying UK, issued a statement saying: "We think it's a serious breach of confidentiality for an anti-bullying charity to reveal details like this where such a small number of people are involved and – much worse – could potentially be identified.

"It will deter other people from coming forward for help if they think that anti-bullying charities are going to splash their employer's name all over the media."

One woman who called the helpline in 2006 after being bullied at work, said she felt Pratt took advantage of her when she was at her most vulnerable. After two phone calls, the woman was invited to a face-to-face meeting with Pratt, who encouraged her to sign a contract for HR & Diversity Management. The contract, seen by the Guardian, says HRDM will provide "support and advice" for an initial fee of £250 and then a rate of £50 per hour.

"[Pratt] said I shouldn't go to lawyers, that they weren't experts in bullying but that she was, and she said she would go into my firm and do an independent investigation," said the woman, who did not want to be named.

Questions also emerged over the accounting practices of the NBH as the Charity Commission revealed the charity had has failed to provide financial information for the financial year which ended 30 September 2008. "We expected this information by 30 July 2009," said a spokeswoman. "If the charity's income for the year ended 30 September 2008 is under £10,000, the charity is asked to submit an Annual Update to the Commission, setting out key financial information. If the charity's income for that year is £10,000 or over, the charity is required to submit an Annual Return and Accounts.

"The Charity Commission has sent The National Bullying Helpline three reminders in respect of its outstanding information. These reminders have been sent to the charity on the 2 April 2009, 5 June 2009 and 9 August 2009 respectively. We will continue to pursue the charity for its outstanding information."


23 February 2010

FALLOUT of UK Bullying Case that involves Prime Minister Gordon Brown

Bullying Row: Tory MP Resigns From Charity

Ann Widdecombe has resigned as patron of the National Bullying Helpline following allegations of a culture of bullying in Downing Street.

It means four patrons of the charity are now believed have stepped down after its founder claimed "three or four" Number 10 staff had called her helpline for advice.

Christine Pratt said she did not know if the phone calls related to the Prime Minister's own behaviour but said she had since received an email making allegations against him.

"I have personally taken a call from staff in the Prime Minister's office, staff who believe they are working in a bullying culture and that it has caused them some stress," she said.

"I am not saying Gordon Brown is a bully, I am not a judge. But I am appalled at the outright denial that is going on without due process being followed."

According to journalist Andrew Rawnsley, the Prime Minister received a "verbal warning" about his temper, a claim he has denied.

Ann Widdecombe

Ms Widdecombe has resigned

In an interview with the Economist, Mr Brown said: "The cabinet secretary has made it clear that he's had no inquiries, there's been no reprimand, there's been no private message to me.

"[The] story is completely wrong."

The Tory MP is the latest patron to step down from the charity following workplace stress expert Professor Cary Cooper, TV presenter Sarah Cawood and, according to the FT, Hillingdon Councillor Mary O'Connor.

In a statement, Ms Cawood said: "In light of the recent events where confidential phone calls were made public, I feel it is no longer a campaign with which I would like my name to be associated."

Mrs Pratt has responded to Ms Cawood's resignation saying she is "very disappointed" at a lack of support from the presenter.

"Her role as a patron has been disappointing and she has not got involved in spite of making many promises," she said.

"Appointing her as a patron was with hindsight a mistake."

Instead of addressing [the allegations], they are dismissing Mrs Pratt as a Tory party stooge. She is not.

A Conservative spokesman responds to Lord Mandelson

David Cameron and Nick Clegg have both suggested there should be an investigation after claims of a culture of bullying at Number 10 were made in a new book and by the founder of an anti-bullying helpline.

But Downing Street said it had never been contacted by the hotline and the head of the civil service said there was no need for an inquiry.

The Prime Minister's official spokeman said: "The Cabinet Secretary, Gus O'Donnell, would like to make it clear that he has never raised concerns with the Prime Minister about him acting in a bullying or intimidatory manner in relation to Number 10, let alone giving him any sort of verbal warning."

He also told political journalists there had been no complaints against the Prime Minister through the internal complaints procedure.

Lord Mandelson said there was "zero tolerance" of bullying across the Government and dismissed the row as a politically motivated "storm in a teacup".

"I even gather that Conservative Party press officers were active yesterday (on Sunday), guiding journalists towards Mrs Pratt, assuming that she had some fuel to throw on this fire," he said.

Mrs Pratt, who has been criticised for breaching the confidentiality of callers, has denied she had a political agenda.

Christine Pratt

Christine Pratt

The Conservatives denied Lord Mandelson's suggestion they had helped stoke the row.

"This is the default position of the Downing Street machine - to smear the messenger as they have done so many times before," a spokesman said.

"Serious allegations of bullying within Downing Street have been made by both Andrew Rawnsley and Mrs Pratt. Instead of addressing them, they are dismissing Mrs Pratt as a Tory party stooge. She is not.

"Now Peter Mandelson claims that Mrs Pratt was 'guided by some Tory Party press officer'. She was not.

"There is a simple way for Gordon Brown to clear up these serious allegations, that is by instructing Sir Phillip Mawer (the former Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards) to investigate whether any breach of the Ministerial Code has taken place."

Mr Brown has not commented on the latest claims but gave a speech to business leaders at a global investment conference.

Staff at Downing Street have received an email from senior civil servant Jeremy Heywood reminding them of procedures for reporting their concerns, but emphasising he does not believe there is a culture of bullying in Government.


...another angle...

Bully? Maybe ... but victim? Definitely

Victimised ... Gordon Brown is an easy target

SO the word is that Downing Street is mired in a culture of bullying.

Aggression, violence, four-letter rants. Gordon Brown's been accused of using them all and more to try and keep control of a floundering ship.

And it may well be proved that, yes, he's turned out to be the short-fused, vindictive, foul-mouthed boss his enemies gleefully paint him as.

But let me say this in his defence.

As a nation, we've no cause to scold. Because if he's been a rotten b****** to his staff, we've been every bit as big a bunch of rotten b******s to him.

Because in my book, Gordon Brown himself has been aVICTIM of bullying throughout his time as PM.

In fact, I'd go further and state that this country has never treated a leader as unkindly as we do him.

Thatcher and Blair were hated by many and satirised by others, but both managed to at least convey an air of being respected for their strength and beliefs.

Major had the p*** ripped out of him left, right and centre, but it somehow always seemed affectionate, like he was some kind of special needs politician.

But Brown? Oh yes, he gets plenty of the hatred and the satire and the p***-ripping.

But there's about as much chance of him being shown respect and affection as there is of him winning a calligraphy prize. See? There we go again. Cheap jibe, easy target.

The poor guy gets it tight in columns like this, on comedy panel games, in offices and pubs and millions of homes.

The length and breadth of Britain, we ridicule Brown not for what he does, but for what he IS.

The dead eye that leads to the marker-pen scrawl. The saggy clothes, the saggy chops. The way his hair never seems to sit right, the way his jaw clicks in the middle of sentences.

Everything, right down to where he comes from and how he was brought up.

And ask any schoolkid who's ever been picked on for being ginger or tubby or smelly or spotty, all of the above are forms of bullying.

Sure, we don't see it that way because... well, he's a politician, eh? He knew what he was getting himself into when he took the gig. He's fair game, etc.

That's clearly what an artist called Louis Sidoli thinks, as he's just produced a poster of him done up as Hitler and claims the pair have similar qualities.

As for those within politics?

Blair jerked him around on a string for a decade. Blair's buddies have made life as awkward as possible ever since the leadership was handed over.

Jack Straw's been outed for trying lead a coup just a year into Brown's leadership. This election campaign was kicked off with another abortive attempt to unseat him.

Tory chief Dave Cameron's called for an urgent inquiry, while the Lib Dems are tut-tutting over this treatment of helpless people - not bad from the party who deposed Charles Kennedy for liking a half.

Even wee Willie Hague's had a pop, claiming Brown's "not cut out" for top office. Which is like Alan Carr bitching that Julian Clary's not cut out for rugby league.

As it goes, I don't think Brown has what it takes to lead the country either. But that doesn't make him a bad person.

Is he a bully?

Well, were I to play amateur psychologist, my guess would be that he's basically a quiet and honest man whose ambitions have outreached his abilities and who cannot handle the ruthless, pressure-cooker world he finds himself trapped in.

If that manifests itself in his temper getting the better of him, in physical or verbal outbursts, then that's something he has to deal with.

Either he works on it or he gets the hell out to preserve his sanity.

Personally, I'd take the latter option. Because there's absolutely no sign that the pressure will ever let up.

The economy will remain in crisis. The opposition will keep on baiting him. He'll never stop believing those within his own party have it in for him.

And even if he brought about world peace and cured cancer, that quirky, cartoonish personality of his will always make him a target for the kind of ridicule he'll never be able to cope with.

As for Christine Pratt, the National Bullying Helpline founder who went public over those allegations of Brown abusing his staff?

Shame on her.

She's not only abused the trust of those who made the complaints and of the PM himself, but of anyone who has ever or might ever contact her organisation. Their website states: "We never share your details with anyone else. All correspondence is confidential."

What a sick joke THAT is.

One patron of the charity has already quit and now pressure is mounting on Pratt to do the same. Ironic, isn't it, that she herself may be about to find out how much bullying can hurt?


22 February 2010

NEWS - UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown Investigated for BULLYING at Work!

There is a scandal brewing in the UK over Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his temper at Work. Claims have been made that his staffers at 10 Downing Street have called the UK's Bullying Hotline, to Brown hitting an aid, and that Brown has been placed under scrutiny in a Workplace investigation. At the same time the fall out has claimed victims, and National Bullying Helpline's Head Christine Pratt is also in the firing line.

Gordon Brown Bullying Row National Bullying Helpline Boss Christine Pratt Says Charity Had Calls
The head of an anti-bullying charity has hit out at Gordon Brown after revealing several Downing Street staff have called its helpline. Christine Pratt said she had "seen red" after ministers rallied round to deny claims in a new book that the PM had been warned over his treatment of staff.

Lord Mandelson said Mr Brown was emotional, demanding and impatient but not a bully after a new book detailed a string of alleged outbursts!!!!

But Mrs Pratt, who founded the National Bullying Helpline after being a workplace victim herself, accused them of failing staff by "going into denial".

I saw the Lord Mandelson statement that had a categorical denial that bullying was going on in Gordon Brown's office. I saw red.

Christine Pratt said: "I have personally taken a call from staff in the Prime Minister's office, staff who believe they are working in a bullying culture and that it has caused stress.

"We would have hoped Gordon Brown would lead by example. If an employer receives complaints they should investigate," she said.

She told Sky News: "I'm not accusing Gordon Brown of being a bully. I'm saying that our leader should lead by example and follow due process.

TORY LEADER David Cameron calls for inquiry into bullying row
David Cameron wants an investigation into the bullying allegations at 10 Downing Street.

Gordon Brown has denied that he is a violent bully after Andrew Rawnsley's book about him claimed he'd been investigated over it. .

Gordon Brown Denies Hitting Aide.

20 February 2010

Toxic Workforce - One in five employees 'hate their colleagues'

Be careful what you say at work: One in five employees 'hate their colleagues'

They may greet you with a smile and ask how you are.

But what your colleagues say behind your back could be far from friendly.

A fifth of workers hate their colleagues and almost two-thirds regularly gossip about them when they are out of earshot, according to a study.

Ricky Gervais in The Office

Practically all the characters in BBC sitcom The Office hated David Brent, played by Ricky Gervais. .Research has found that almost six million employees despise people they work with.

The back-stabbing continues away from the office, with one in four admitting they moan about colleagues in the pub after work.

Almost six million employees despise people they work with, according to the survey.

The research also found that women are more likely to talk behind a colleague's back than men. A typical female employee will spend around 20 minutes a day moaning about someone they work with, either by email or by instant messaging online.

Two out of five women said they had sent nasty messages in the past seven days compared to one in five men.

Colleagues annoyed them because they were 'jealous' or 'saw them as a threat'.

Men who were questioned said their main gripe with a colleague was 'laziness' or someone having 'ideas above their station'.

A third of workers said they disliked colleagues so much they would not even consider socialising with them away from the office.

The researchers found that bosses are the major cause of tension in the workplace, while senior management emerged as the least-liked group of all.

The OnePoll researchers, who surveyed 2,000 people, found that media is the business where back-stabbing is most rife, followed by accounts, IT and sales. It was least common in nursing.

A spokesman for OnePoll said: 'Workers are spending longer and longer in each other's company as workloads increase.

'That leads to added tension. People who are in positions of authority are bound to end up as victims of back-stabbing.

'But workers should be careful, as one in twenty have sent an inappropriate message to the wrong person.'

15 February 2010

VIDEO - Workplace Bullying Interview with Dr Lisa Barrow

Part 1 - Dr. Lisa Barrow shares her story about being bullied in the workplace.

Part 2 - Dr. Lisa Barrow discusses 'what is bullying', giving insight into a case history, also discusses effect of ongoing bullying like a constant water drop, water torture?! eventually the victim will be broken.

For the rest of the interview with Dr Barrow, you will find the interview uploaded on her Youtube page.

14 February 2010

Australian Workplaces face Bullying Blitz - WorkSafe Victoria inspectors will conduct 40,000 workplace visits a year.

  • Respect at Work initiative launched
  • Follows waitress's suicide
  • Inspections, training, interviewing

MORE than 40,000 Victorian businesses will be subject to a blitz on workplace bullying following the suicide of teenage waitress Brodie Panlock.
Special Inspectors from the state's workplace safety body, Worksafe, will conduct snap inspections, lift awareness of bullying with training and interview employees, the Herald Sun reports.
Businesses that don't comply will be issued with notices forcing the employer to adopt an anti-bullying strategy.
The crackdown on bullying will also occur alongside a major advertising and awareness campaign.
WorkSafe wants workers who are being bullied to report the offences and keep a record of the events.
The safety body has been overwhelmed by stress-related and bullying calls since the details of Ms Panlock's case became public, WorkSafe Minister Tim Holding said.

"This is something that everyone needs to take responsibility for and it should be stopped in its tracks," he said.
Ms Panlock committed suicide in September 2006 after enduring more than a year of bullying at a Victorian cafe.
Ms Panlock's former workmates - Nicholas Smallwood, 26, Rhys MacAlpine, 28, and Gabriel Toomey, 23 - all pleaded guilty to failing to take reasonable care for the health and safety of persons.
Cafe owner Marc Luis Da Cruz and his one-man company, MAP Foundation, pleaded guilty to two charges, including failing to provide and maintain a safe working environment.
The four men were hit with a total of $335,000 in fines.
Ms Panlock's parents have called for tougher penalties, including jail sentences, to send a message that bullying will not be tolerated.
Victorian Premier John Brumby branded workplace bullies lowly cowards who would not be tolerated.
"Like any parent I want to know that we have safe and secure workplaces," he said.
"Like most parents, I found the case of Brodie Panlock very distressing," he said.
"Workplace bullying is a cowardly, low act.
"Respect At Work is all about helping young and vulnerable Victorians tackle workplace bullying."

WorkSafe flying squad to crackdown on workplace bullies

State launches anti-bullying campaign