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Workplace Bullying

What is workplace bullying?

Bullying is when someone intentionally hurts another person, or group of people, by using words or actions that embarrass, intimidate or threaten them. Bullying is a repeated behaviour, it’s not just a one-off incident where someone is mean to another person.This means it’s different from having a fight with someone, or not liking someone. It is something that happens more than once, where one person wants to hurt or embarrass another person. You can read more about bullying on the Reachout and Youth BeyondBlue websites, or check out our post on bullying.

Workplace bullying occurs at work. It can be committed by one or your colleagues, your supervisor, manager or boss. Bullying at work is not ok, no matter who is doing it. You can read more about bullying on the Reachout and Australian Human Rights Commission websites.

Workplace bullying can be:

Verbal – Includes teasing, name-calling, put downs, sexual harassment and threats.
Physical – Includes any physical violence like kicking, punching or pushing. It can also include stealing or damaging property. Sexual assault is also a form of physical violence.
Psychological – Includes stalking, intimidation or playing mind games.
Social – Includes being left out of social groups or situations, spreading rumours or ignoring someone.
Cyberbullying -Includes any type of bullying that takes place online like through email, social networking sites, text messages or instant messaging.
Sexual Harassment -Includes commenting on someone’s sex life, making sexual jokes, displaying unwanted sexual material (porn), asking for sexual favours and intrusive questions about your sex life.

What are the affects of bullying?

Being bullied at work can make you feel pretty horrible. It can stop you from wanting to go to work, or from trying to achieve your goals. It can make you feel lonely, sad, confused and really effect your self esteem. It can also affect your mental health making you feel depressed or anxious. Bullying can also affect you physically, this might mean you get headaches or have trouble sleeping. Bullying can cause you a lot of stress and have some pretty big impacts on your life, so if you’re being bullied it’s important to get help.

What do I do if I’m being bullied?

If you are being bullied at work the most important thing is to remember that it is not your fault, bullying can happen to anyone no matter what their position is at work. Talk to someone you trust about it. This could be a friend, parent, teacher or school counsellor. If that sounds too scary you can call Kids Helpline or talk to a counsellor’s through eheadspace‘s online counselling service. Talking about your problems can be hard but you’ll probably feel a lot better afterwards.

Your workplace will have an anti-bullying policy in place, so if you are ready, tell your boss or manager about what’s going on. They will help you try to sort out what’s going on and put a stop to it. You have the right to feel safe at work. Although it might be hard to talk to someone in charge about what is happening, they have probably dealt with similar situations before and will be able to help you. It’s also a good idea to write down every time you have been bullied so that you can show your boss or manager. If talking to your boss or manager seems too hard talk to a parent, your school counsellor or call Kids Helpline to work out some strategies for telling your boss.

You can also talk to your union representative about what to do, it’s there job to help workers in this kind of situation. If the bullying doesn’t stop you can also call the Australian Human Rights Commission for help.