According to Fair Work Australia, a worker is bullied at their place of employment if:

  • a person or group repeatedly act unreasonably towards the individual and/or other staff members

  • a person or group's behaviour creates a risk to health and safety

As for what's considered unreasonable behaviour:

  • aggressiveness

  • teasing and/or practical jokes

  • pressuring someone to behave inappropriately

  • excluding someone from work-related events

  • unreasonable work demands

Next steps

If you're confident that you're being bullied or harassed in your workplace, there are things you should, and shouldn't, do next.

For example, you might think confiding in work friends for support may be useful but you need to be careful that this isn't seen as gossiping as it could then damage your case in the long run.

If you feel comfortable speaking to a line manager that is the ideal first step.

If it's your line manager that is the perpetrator or you can't go to that person then always go above them.

This should done by presenting the facts (have as much hard evidence as possible of what has been occurring) more so than basing things solely off emotional responses. This 'hard evidence' can include you noting down times that the bullying has taken place - what happened, what was said, etc. If you take any action to stop the bullying behaviour, make sure you make a note of that as well.

Your HR team will then advise you of next steps regarding making a formal complaint against the perpetrator.

It's also really beneficial, whether you're experiencing bullying or not, to familiarise yourself with your organisation's bullying complaints policy.

If you feel you are not being listened to or you want to take it further you can also lodge a formal complaint with the Australian Human Rights Commission or the Commonwealth FairWork Ombudsman.

The risks of workplace bullying

Workplace bullying can lead to anxiety, stress, depression and a traumatizing experience for the victim.

Having these mental health issues can lead to physical effects on the body such as lack of sleep, loss of appetite, headaches and even worsening symptoms such as loss of hair and self harm, to name a few. Some people may experience severe mental health disorders such as post traumatic stress disorder even if/when they move on from their job.

You are never alone in your experiences. For any urgent medical attention call 000, you can also reach Lifeline 24/7 by calling 13 11 14.


If you have any questions or need extra support, we're here to help you anytime in any language. Simply start a chat with us via the home screen of the Sonder app.

Image credit: Icons8 Team on Unsplash

All content is created and published for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

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