09 September 2012

VIDEO STORY : Bullied workers shattered; Workplace bullying costs Australian businesses an estimated $36 billion a year

Source TodayTonight

Bullying in the workplace is something that's rarely discussed, but it should be, as those whose lives it affects can be shattered forever.

Workplace bullying costs Australian businesses an estimated $36 billion a year.
In Victoria, the recently passed Brodie's Law has made bullying at work a criminal offence, but in every other state it's still not against the law.

Karen Carr lives a hair’s breadth from becoming yet another bullying statistic. She barely hangs on each day, having suffered months of ridicule, abuse and sabotage in a job she loved.
“It has reduced me to a shadow of my former self," Carr said.

WATCH STORY here - Video Link 

One in five Australian workers is bullied at work, with almost half of all victims simply leaving their jobs. It’s an epidemic that’s getting worse, and no company or industry is immune.
"This is an insidious disease that's of epidemic proportions," Carr said.
“Bullying is premeditated. It is intentional, repeated assault."

Carr still thinks of suicide daily. She is unable to return to work of any kind, and a successful career in newspapers has been destroyed by a pack of frenzied workmates. Despite this, she is the one punished, and the bullies have not even been reprimanded. “I am viewed as the criminal in this, and I am made to feel like that. Whereas the bullies are all living life just as they were seven years ago."

Nine years of constant harassment and bullying has left gentle giant Rob a quivering wreck, after he suffered a complete mental breakdown from taunts and abuse. Now his wife Tina is terrified to leave him alone, even for a minute. "It came to the point where Tina had to full-on wrestle me to the ground to get a knife off of me, because I was going to slit my throat," said Rob.
Workplace bullying, says Rob, destroyed his life.

“It was a day-to-day fight just to keep him from hurting himself, from killing himself, just to keep him alive,” Tina said. Rob now survives on a small pharmacy of pills and potions to get through every day. “People don't realise how serious bullying can be, and what it can do. People just think it's names in a schoolyard, but it is so much more than that," he explained.

Telstra linesman Levin Madeley is another bullying victim hounded out of his work by unrealistic pressures, crazy deadlines and workplace bullying. “I ended up having to go to the doctor before I did something really stupid," Madeley said. His wife Jenny knew something was wrong, but has no idea just how wrong or serious it was. “You think you know somebody really well, and Levin is my soul mate, so to not know that he was that close (to suicide), it hurts a lot," Jenny said.

Sadly some do take that terrible, final step. Nineteen-year-old Brodie Panlock jumped from a multi-story car park after enduring more than a year of workmates treating her like dirt at a Melbourne cafe. She was spat on, called fat and ugly, and once had fish sauce poured all over her. Under the tougher laws in Victoria, three so-called ‘workmates’ and the cafe owner were fined more than $300,000 after the all pleaded guilty.

Victoria is the only state to make bullying a crime, but is that enough?

Doctor Carlo Caponechia is doing a nation-wide study of workplace bullying and its terrible costs. He has been shocked by what he's uncovered. “One of the negatives is that it's not preventative. It takes for something bad to happen, like suicide or death or someone feeling very threatened and humiliated, and really negatively affected by this," Dr Caponechia said. “People are being hurt and they shouldn't be hurt in the course of their work."

But how do you fix a problem where the bulk of victims are too frightened to come forward?
According to Dr Caponechia “You have to make it safe for people to report, and you have to make sure people know how to report."

Carr is still waiting for her case to reach court. She’s hanging on, day by day, and praying for justice, but unable to banish her demons. “I will never forget. How can you forget an event that basically takes your life away as you knew it?"

Contact details

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or SANE Helpline on 1800 18 SANE (7263)

28 July 2012

VIDEO STORY: Bullies in the Workplace

Source TodayTonight

Workplace bullying is a major issue in Australia with studies have shown it is costing the Australian economy $36 billion a year.


Now a Flight Centre franchise has landed at the centre of a fight over how its staff have been treated.
Three out of five staff from the same workplace resigned in just six months, and all are blaming one woman - their former boss.

The then manager of a travel agency in the Melbourne suburb of Frankston was Kelly Gallasch. She’s been accused of bullying behaviour by former staff members, including Richard Barnes.

Barnes says Gallasch told him to clean toilets, ordered him around and swore at him – “just to torment me until I'd lash out.”

Now Barnes is taking legal action against Flight Centre. He'll claim that he was a whistleblower on bullying problems at the travel giant, and under the Fair Work Act he was meant to be protected from victimisation.

In documents filed in the Federal Court Barnes claims his ex-boss made comments about him that would make tradies blush.

Another worker, Carol, has backed up Barnes’s claims. “I was constantly belittled in front of staff,” she said. Carol claims she received similar treatment to Barnes. “It was quite relentless,”

Amanda, another ex-worker who has come forward, says “I just didn’t want to get up and go to work.
“Basically she'd be increasing my workload so I’d feel more pressured and I’d quit my job,” Amanda added. And these employees are far from alone. Across the nation, bullying has reared its ugly head time and time again, and instances of workplace bullying are troubling.

It's estimated one in four people will experience bullying at some point in their work life, and seven per cent of suicides can be linked to workplace bullying according to a US report. Brodie Panlock is one of those victims; the nineteen-year-old killed herself after being bullied by three men at her workplace. Her tragic death led to Brodie's Law - a change to the Crimes Act that introduces ten year prison terms for bullying.

Psychologist Evelyn Field says bullying is “absolutely soul destroying. Being the victim of bullying changes your life forever.” Field believes bullying is often a cultural issue. “It’s really about management who are not stepping in and stopping it,” she said. As for the Flight Centre case, the travel giant says the matter was investigated at the time. They maintain they acted appropriately and deny the various allegations, which they say will be vigorously defended in court.

Flight Centre response statement

Our comment is similar to the comments we made when Maurice Blackburn issued its two previous press releases on this matter.

As this is now before the courts, neither Student Flights nor Flight Centre Limited can comment in detail.

The matter was investigated and action was taken against several people when the complaint was received last year.

Action was also taken against Mr Barnes, after concerns were raised about his behaviour in the workplace.

The company considers it acted appropriately and denies various allegations that have been made against it, including suggestions that Mr Barnes was forced out after he raised concerns.

It will vigorously defend the case.

Allegations of this nature are taken seriously and policies and procedures are in place to prevent and discipline such behaviour.

In addition, the company has a whistleblowers' facility that staff can use to report any alleged wrongdoing.

A Federal Government inquiry into workplace bullying is currently running in order to see if legislation needs to be changed. If you have experienced workplace bullying you can put in a submission at this website.