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Bullying And Harassment In The Workplace

On Thursday, 3rd August, mlcoa QLD hosted an in house educational event called “Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace” with Dr Derek Lovell, Psychiatrist.

Dr Lovell’s Objectives of the presentation were to:

  • Definitions of Bullying and Harassment
  • Common feature of bullying – antecedents at work/ areas at risk
  • Bullying in the Australian context
  • Personality and total health project (PATH)
  • Resilience
  • Individual vulnerabilities
  • Case examples
  • What can we do to improve the situation

Dr Lovell provided case studies for discussion and provided insight into courteous workplace behavior and workplace harassment and defined workplace harassment according to Fair Work Act (2009) section 789FD defines Bullying:

Occurs when a person or group of people repeatedly behaves unreasonably towards a worker or group of workers at work and the behavior causes creates a risk to health’

Dr Lovell also defined what is deemed failing to act with respect and courtesy-

  • Behavior that falls outside the definition of workplace harassment may still constitute a failure to act with response and courtesy e.g
  • Questioning a colleague in a raised voice, accusing them of bias or claiming they are unprincipled.

Dr Lovell also provided some common features of bullying: 

  • Bullying is more commonly directed by a supervisor to a subordinate
  • Can be peer to peer or subordinate to supervisor
  • If instigated by colleagues it is more  frequent
  • Can occur via gossip social exclusions, rumour and personal humiliation
  • The intention is to socially exclude the target and then expel then from that workplace all together.

Dr Lovell broke down some of the consequences for the individual:

  • Almost universal agreement that consequences can be severe, life changing and long term.
  • Usually diagnosed as an Adjustment disorder with mixed emotional features, but some incorrectly diagnose PTSD.

Dr Lovell provided a summary of study findings:

  • 7% were currently experiencing bullying
  • 46% reported previous bullying
  • Violence and intimidation less common
  • 2-3 time greater odds of depression and anxiety for those currently bullied.
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