AEU (SA Branch) recognises that all workers have the right to work in an environment, which is safe
and free from bullying and/or harassment and to be treated with respect and dignity. OHS&W
Legislation mandates this right.

AEU recognises that bullying is widespread in the education industry.

Negative impacts of bullying on the morale and productivity of the workforce are now widely
recognised. The cost to the education industry in terms of increased absenteeism, including sick
leave and workers compensation claims, difficulty in retaining and recruiting skilled staff, as well
as negative effects on the teaching and learning environment are well documented and recognised by
AEU. AEU also acknowledges the human cost of workplace bullying, which can result in permanent
psychological and physical harm to its members. Therefore AEU will not condone or tolerate workplace

What is Workplace Bullying/Harassment?

Workplace bullying is the persistent and continuous ill treatment of an individual worker by one or
more staff members, which could reasonably be regarded as undermining that individual worker's right
to dignity at work. Bullying can be dispute-related or predatory, where the targeted person may be a
random target and/or opportunistic target. An isolated incident of the behaviour described in this
definition may be an affront to personal dignity at work, but as a once-off incident is not
considered to be bullying. Workplace Bullying is the abuse/misuse of power in the workplace. This
power can derive from status and authority over others in the workplace such as in the case of a
manager or supervisor. It can also occur where power and authority is derived from more subtle
sources such as being part of a dominant group or culture.

Behaviours, which constitute bullying, include:

      Verbal abuse, either privately or in front of other staff, clients or members of the public.

      Threatening gestures

      Threats of overly severe or unjustified consequences (such as dismissal.)

      Humiliating a staff member through sarcasm, insults and persistent unjustified criticism,
      especially in front of others.

      Spreading gossip, malicious rumours or making vexatious or frivolous complaints or
      unsubstantiated allegations.

      Unjustifiably removing and/or replacing areas of responsibility with menial or trivial tasks.

      Unfairly undervaluing a staff member's contribution in comparison with other staff, which may
      include denying opportunities for performance feedback.

      Unreasonably denying opportunities for training and development, or acting in promotional

      Placing unreasonable demands on a staff member's performance or setting unreasonable objectives
      or deadlines.

      Excessive performance monitoring, especially in comparison with other staff.

      Deliberately sabotaging a staff member's work by failing to provide essential information, not
      passing on messages, or deliberately withholding information in order to negatively affect
      their work.

      Failing to assist a staff member with work difficulties but pointedly assisting other staff in
      similar situations.

      Unreasonably excluding staff members from workplace social events and/or not talking to them at

      Patterns of behaviour, which can be, considered unreasonable and inappropriate workplace
      behaviour because of lack of respect or regard for the dignity of the targeted individual.

      Treatment which is less favourable treatment of a targeted individual than others in the

      Unfairly taking credit for the work done by the targeted individual or concentrating only on
      negative aspects/characteristics of the targeted worker.

Bullying can be a direct consequence of organisational factors. These may include: fear of
redundancy, excessive and unreasonable change, excessive competition amongst workers for positions,
excessive workloads, lack of respect for the dignity of workers and lack of shared understanding
about what is meant by acceptable conduct at work.

Bullying/Harassment Covered by Legislation

      Abusing power for the purpose of isolating or alienating individual employees. Bullying with an
      element of harassment on the grounds of race, creed, ethnic origin, nationality, sexual
      orientation or gender may be a breach of SA Equal Opportunity Act 1984.

      Physical assault constitutes a criminal offence

      A workplace in which bullying is tolerated or condoned is not a safe working environment and
      could therefore be in breach of the OHS&W Act 1986.

Employer Responsibilities

AEU recognises that all workplaces have the potential for bullying and that effective management of
the problem relies on:

      the acknowledgment that workplace bullying exists and that there is a potential for this in all

      development of a clear statement of zero tolerance to workplace bullying

      development of prevention strategies, in consultation with workers,

      providing clear guidelines for implementing prevention measures, including grievance procedures
      as well as education and training,

      providing procedures for dealing with complaints confidentially, promptly and without fear of

      implementing disciplinary procedures where a perpetrator deliberately persists with their
      unacceptable behaviour towards others, especially in the case of predatory bullying,

      Providing perpetrators with counselling, retraining and temporary removal from their position
      of power until their behaviour is modified,

      identifying assessing and controlling risk factors, including bullying behaviour in the
      workplace, in order to provide a safe working environment for students and staff,

      Regularly monitoring and reviewing policies, practices and procedures for dealing with
      workplace bullying in order to ensure that these remain effective.

      Ensuring that managers have the skills and knowledge to deal effectively with bullying, while
      guaranteeing that reports of bullying do not result in reprisals.

      Providing counselling and support for targets of bullying

      Encouraging workers to report all incidents of bullying.

AEU's Role

AEU is committed to the following:

   1.Ensuring that the employer fulfils its responsibilities to prevent workplace bullying by
      developing, in consultation with workers, effective procedures for preventing bullying and for
      dealing with complaints of bullying. AEU will monitor the implementation of such policies and

   2.Lobbying governments to seek necessary legislative changes to ensure that education workers are
      protected from workplace bullying as well as organisational bullying.

   3.Protecting bullied members and assisting in the prevention of bullying by supporting,
      counselling and advising members of their rights.

   4.Continually informing and educating members about the prevention of workplace bullying,
      especially through membership courses.

   5.Continually inservicing AEU Officers about the implementation of effective policies and
      practices for dealing with workplace bullying.

   6.Ensuring that AEU Officers respond promptly to members' complaints in a confidential and
      sympathetic manner. Officers will assist members in making a complaint and getting the bullying
      behaviour stopped by the employer and/or seeking redress for members.

   7.Ensuring that the alleged bully and the targeted person are guaranteed due process and their
      right to natural justice.

   8.AEU Staff will be required to make it clear that the union does not tolerate bullying and will
      not defend bullying behaviour by AEU members. Instead the bully should be advised to accept
      counselling to assist him/her recognise and change their behaviour.

   9.Ensuring that AEU Sub-branch secretaries and AEU reps are provided with training to assist them
      to identify, advise and support bullied members in their workplaces.

  10.Monitoring organisational factors, which can contribute to bullying in workplaces such as
      excessive performance management and any unfair policies, practices and procedures with regard
      to staff placement, training and development or promotional procedures.

  11.AEU OHS&W Standing Committee will continuously monitor the effectiveness of this policy to
      ensure that AEU members gain full support and protection of this union against workplace

  12.Ensure that OHS&W Training providers include modules on workplace bullying in courses for
      Health & Safety Reps.


AEU is committed to achieving zero tolerance of workplace bullying for all of its members. Therefore
this policy will be implemented at all levels of the AEU SA Branch. The President and AEU Executive
will be responsible for the full implementation of this policy and the OHS&W Standing Committee will
monitor this implementation. The OHS&W Standing Committee will review this policy at least every two
years from the date of its adoption by Branch Council.

Signature of AEU President Dated

Endorsed by AEU's OHS&W Standing Committee 19th June 2001

This DRAFT policy was developed by the AEU (South Australia) Occupational Health Safety and Welfare
Standing Committee on 19th June 2001.


Created on 18/06/01 9:26 AM