Bullied academic to return to work at Newcastle Uni

The University of Newcastle has been ordered to appoint a back-to-work co-ordinator for an academic who claims she suffered a psychological injury after years of bullying at work.

Workers Compensation Commission arbitrator Ross Bell made the recommendation to the university’s insurer Employers Mutual following conciliation in Newcastle yesterday.

It is the second time in as many months the commission has recommended a back-to-work co-ordinator be appointed to try to find suitable duties at the university for Dr Michelle Adams.

The university’s insurer, Employers Mutual, disputed the original recommendation made on May 7.

But yesterday Mr Bell upheld the recommendation that a co-ordinator be appointed within two weeks and the university was ordered to pay Dr Adams’s legal costs.

Dr Adams said she hoped to return to work “as soon as possible” and questioned the “time and money being wasted” on disputing the original recommendation.

Dr Adams has been on suspension since August last year, with her mental health in question.

The Newcastle Herald reported in March Dr Adams’s claims that she had endured years of harassment and bullying at the university after raising allegations in 2003 that two fellow academics plagiarised a student’s honours thesis.

It was alleged the academics used cardiovascular disease data the student collected from interviews with more than 350 people over several months, without her knowledge.

Dr Adams was the student’s principal supervisor and reported the matter in 2003.

An initial university investigation into the claims found that the academics had not published any “formal publications” using the student’s data and no action was taken.

The matter was reinvestigated last year after Dr Adams made further complaints to vice-chancellor Nick Saunders and it was found the academics used the data without acknowledging the student’s work.

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