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Newcastle Herald

Website on uni bullying

Date: 04/10/2010
Words: 351
Source: NCH
          Publication: Newcastle Herald
Section: News
Page: 11
AN anonymous website accusing the University of Newcastle of fostering workplace bullying was posted on the internet.

The website, called Stop Bullying at the Uni of Newcastle (oz), went live on Tuesday and includes an online survey about academic bullying.

"We are a group of people who have all spoken out about wrongdoing here and have been bullied into silence," its creators said.

The blog-style site was being promoted in flyers at Callaghan Campus last week and after its launch attracted two posts.

"The worst thing is not to be bullied . . . but it is the collusion and silence by everyone and the lengths that the uni goes to to silence anyone who tries to do the right thing," one post said.

The National Tertiary Education Union denied involvement with the website.

It is in the middle of wage talks and staff workloads are a major sticking point.

Newcastle branch president Suzanne Ryan said bullying was systemic on campus and symptomatic of a sector-wide problem not acute to Newcastle.

She said increasing student to staff ratios at Newcastle were putting added pressure on staff, leading to bullying.

"It starts at the top and flows all the way down," she said.

Academic Michelle Adams, who recently went public with allegations of on-campus bullying, was the second to post on the site but also denied involvement.

A report on her experience in March prompted at least 20 people to contact the Newcastle Herald with claims of cliques and bullying.

A university spokeswoman said bullying was not tolerated at the institution.

She said there had been four complaints of bullying this year; three were dismissed and the other withdrawn.

It followed complaints against six staff members in 2009 that were upheld, of 57 lodged.

She said the university had a clear code of conduct outlining how staff and students should behave towards each other.

"There is a well-publicised complaints management system in place," she said.

"If any staff or students have concerns regarding bullying, the university strongly urges them to come forward."

The union called for an external complaints system and end to "managerialism" such as performance indicators.


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