New partnerships aim to stop bullies in their tracks

8 June 2016

Two organisations devoted to educating young people and employers about the trauma caused by bullying have been given a significant boost, thanks to a new partnership with WorkSafe Victoria.

Bully Zero Australia Foundation and Brodie’s Law Foundation will each deliver a range of education and training sessions to young workers aged 16 to 24 and their employers across Victoria.

The sessions will aim to improve awareness of bullying in the workplace, its devastating impact, how it can be prevented, and how it can be dealt with.

WorkSafe’s Executive Director of Health and Safety, Marnie Williams, said she was delighted that both organisations had agreed to partner WorkSafe in the fight to eradicate bullying from the workplace.

“Bullying is a significant issue in Victorian workplaces,” Ms Williams said. ““Of more than 26,000 injury claims in Victoria last year, 3087 were mental injury claims. And, of these, almost 1300 mention bullying behaviour as a cause.

“These figures are likely to be very conservative because, in many cases, bullied workers simply quit their jobs, while others don’t complain for fear of losing their job.

“People need to speak up if they are being bullied or if they see it happening. Our partnership with the Bully Zero Australia Foundation and the Brodie’s Law Foundation will help drive home our message that bullying can never be tolerated.”

Bully Zero Australia Foundation chief executive Oscar Yildiz said the WorkSafe partnership would allow it to spread its message to a wider audience.

“Bullying can have devastating consequences and it is important to identify bullying victims, support them and help them take appropriate action,” Mr Yildiz said.

"Workplaces should empower, educate and equip their staff with the necessary skills to respond to bullying.

“This partnership will help us deliver effective preventative programs to limit the pain and suffering that so many experience on a daily basis."

Damian and Rae Panlock established Brodie’s Law Foundation in memory of their 19-year-old daughter, Brodie, who tragically took her own life in September 2006 after being relentlessly bullied at work. Victoria’s anti-bullying legislation, known as Brodie’s Law, commenced in June 2011 and made serious bullying a crime punishable by up to 10 years in jail.

“We know better than most the serious impact that bullies can have on their victims,” Damian Panlock said.

“Young people are particularly vulnerable so it is important that they understand what they can do to protect themselves. And it’s important that employers show their employees that they have a zero tolerance to that type of behaviour.

“Our partnership with WorkSafe will allow us to tell our story in order to prevent other young people and their families suffering the grief that we have.”

Ms Williams said education was an important part of WorkSafe’s strategy to reduce workplace bullying.

“Employers need to make sure their employees understand what is – and isn’t – workplace bullying,” she said. “They must encourage healthy conversations about the issue, encourage the reporting of bullying behaviour, and then deal with it quickly and sensitively.”

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