Bullying complaints made to WorkSafe Victoria have more than doubled
- No action was taken on the vast majority of complaints, as many complaints fell short of what constitutes workplace bullying under the law.
- It is believed the increase in complaints is largely attributable to greater awareness about bullying, particularly after the case of Brodie Panlock, a 19 year old waitress, who committed suicide in 2006 after being bullied by four colleagues at a Hawthorn café, came to light.
- The most significant increase in bullying complaints came after Ms Panlock’s former colleagues and the owner of the café were found guilty and fined in February last year. A month earlier, Worksafe received 150 complaints. In February 2010 the number of complaints rose to 550 calls and in March 2010 it was 750.
- Of the 6000 bullying complaints made to WorkSafe, only 10 per cent were referred to the bullying response unit. Of those referrals, one in 10 resulted in an inspector visiting a workplace to conduct further inquiries.
- Many of the complaints have been referred to other organisations such as Fair Work Australia, which deals with industrial disputes, unfair dismissal and employment conditions, and the Australian Human Rights Commission, which deals with equal opportunity and discrimination.
- Ian Forsyth, WorkSafe’s Executive Director of Health and Safety, commented on the disparity between the number of complaints made and those actually investigated:
”We’re certainly not saying that these people aren’t suffering from some form of ill treatment or some form of injustice or that they’re not genuinely feeling that they’ve been disadvantaged or put under pressure. But in the vast majority of incidents these types of behaviours which they might describe as bullying are not going to meet the criteria for us to investigate or prosecute.”
WorkSafe recommends that if you are concerned about mistreatment or bullying at work you should immediately raise the issue with the appropriate person in your workplace.
Mind you, WorkSafe has it’s own (alledged) problem with internal bullying…