Uni rally against bullying

CONCERNED: Organiser Kate Hartig.  Picture: Dean Osland
CONCERNED: Organiser Kate Hartig. Picture: Dean Osland

PAST and present University of Newcastle staff will highlight the impact of workplace bullying and harassment at a rally tomorrow.

It coincides with the release of the results of an anonymous online staff survey at the institution conducted by the Stand-Up Against Bullying group.

Forty-five of the 200 respondents said they had attempted or contemplated suicide.

‘‘I am a full-time older employee and am at the stage of taking anti-depressants, seeing a shrink and have contemplated suicide as I can’t afford not to work... ,’’ one respondent wrote on the survey, which has been ongoing since 2010.

Rally organiser and group member Kate Hartig, a former senior lecturer in geography, said some staff were reluctant to talk about their experiences of bullying.

‘‘As many people as possible need to be aware of what’s going on,’’ Dr Hartig said.

‘‘I spoke to several staff who didn’t participate because they were scared their details would be released.’’

A university spokeswoman said most of the university’s 6400 staff enjoyed challenging and rewarding careers.

‘‘The university is concerned by any suggestion of self-harm and is always concerned for the well-being of its staff,’’ she said.

She said the university recognised stress and mental health issues were complex and this was reflected in the type and level of support on offer.

This included a range of specialised  support services.

The spokeswoman said one of the objectives of the university’s New Directions Strategic Plan 2013-15 was to strengthen the university’s standing as ‘‘a vibrant and dynamic community, and a healthy and rewarding place to work’’.

Tomorrow’s rally will be held at 17 Bolton Street, Newcastle at 1.30pm.  Newcastle Trades Hall, Newcastle University Students’ Association and Whistleblowers Australia have supported the event.

Lifeline: 131114

lifeline.org.au