The University of Western Australia
This policy addresses inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour on campus which can be defined as bullying.
'Bullying is the repeated, unreasonable behaviour by an individual or group, directed towards an employee or student, or group of employees or students, either physical or psychological in nature, that intimidates, offends, degrades, humiliates, undermines or threatens. Bullying is generally associated with an ongoing systemic pattern of behaviour that creates a risk to health and safety' Fair Work Act 2009.
Employees and students found to have committed or condoned such behaviour on campus may be subject to disciplinary action.
Under applicable legislation including the Fair Work Act 2009 as amended to 1 January 2014, and the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 (WA), employers and employees must take reasonable care to minimise risk to themselves and others.
This policy outlines the responsibilities of managers/supervisors when responding to instances of bullying.
"Bullying" workplace bullying is repeated, unreasonable behaviour directed towards an employee or student, or group of employees or students that creates a risk to health and safety. In order to maintain objectivity for investigation and litigation purposes, the 'reasonable person' legal test applies - Workplace bullying is predicated on a pattern of behaviour that a reasonable person in the circumstances would view as victimising, humiliating, undermining or threatening.
"Campus" includes all locations under the control and administration of the University. This extends to all of the University's sites and includes the University's employee and student accommodation and all University sporting and recreational clubs and facilities to the extent that the location/personnel are under the control and administration of the University.
"Case Manager" is the person responsible for managing the case who is authorised to resolve the matter.
"Complainant" means the person raising an issue, providing a notification or making a complaint about a matter that they wish the University to consider and for which specific outcome/s or resolution/s are explicitly or implicitly expected.
"Cyber stalking" is using the internet, email, or other electronic communications to monitor, make threats, harass or frighten someone.
"Duty of Care" requires all employees and students to take reasonable care in view of reasonably foreseeable circumstances that may arise. Safety of students, employees and visitors on campus is the first priority in any situation.
"Duty of Confidentiality" requires employees (and support people or witnesses) to maintain confidentiality with respect to personal information, but requires them to disclose information when meeting procedural fairness or when serious concerns arise regarding the safety of an individual or others.
"Employee" is a person employed by the University who has an ongoing, fixed term contract or casual contract, adjunct or honorary relationship with the University.
"ERMS" means Employee Relations and Management Services at the University.
"Hazard" means circumstances with a potential for injury or harm to health.
"Head" means the Head of an organisation unit, for example Head of School, Dean, Director, Associate Director or staff member responsible for the performance or management of an employee.
"Misconduct" for the purposes of this policy can also mean serious misconduct.
"Preliminary Enquiry" means assessing the facts to determine the validity and potential seriousness of an allegation.
"Respondent" means a student, employee or person officially affiliated with the University (e.g. an external supervisor) against whom allegations relating to bullying are made.
"Risk" is considered in relation to any potential injury or harm. It is an assessment of consequence and likelihood of injury or harm occurring whilst accounting for the degree of exposure to the hazard.
"Risk Management" means assessment of risks derived from identified hazards.
"Stalking" the repeated following and harassing of another person composed of a series of actions that taken individually might constitute legal behaviour. For example, sending flowers, writing love notes, and waiting for someone outside their place of work or study are actions that, when coupled with an intent to instil fear or injure, or are unwelcome, may constitute stalking.
"Student" means any person who is enrolled in a course through the University or University Extension.
"Supervisor" means the person who is responsible for day-to-day management or supervision of the employee or student.
"Supervisor/Manager" means the person who is responsible for day-to-day supervision of the employee or student (including both teaching and research employees).
"University" means The University of Western Australia.
"University Community" refers to all people who frequent the University campus.
"Vexatious Complaint" is a complaint that has been instituted with no reasonable grounds for asserting that the alleged conduct occurred.
"Victimisation" is a separate but related form of unlawful behaviour. The term refers to any unfavourable treatment of a person by virtue of their involvement with a bullying enquiry or complaint.
"Witness" refers to someone who sees, hears or is otherwise directly or indirectly exposed to bullying behaviour/s.
The University seeks to provide a campus culture marked by mutual respect, personal dignity and support for everyone's skills and abilities, where employees and students may reasonably expect to pursue their work in a safe and civil environment free from discrimination, harassment, threatening or violent conduct or offences against individuals or property. Inappropriate behaviour and lack of respect for others will not be tolerated by the University.
Bullying is the repeated, unreasonable behaviour by an individual or group, directed towards an employee or student, or group of employees or students, either physical or psychological in nature that intimidates, offends, degrades, humiliates, undermines or threatens.
The impacts of bullying behaviour are not confined to the target/s. Overall, bullying reduces organisational cohesion and productivity. Bullying has a negative effect on both the recipient and bystanders who witness, overhear, or are indirectly exposed to bullying behaviour.
The University therefore recognises the right and responsibility of individuals to raise a complaint if they are exposed to bullying behaviour whether directly, or indirectly in the capacity of a witness.
Under applicable legislation including the Fair Work Act 2009 as amended to 1 January 2014, and the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 (WA), employers and employees must take reasonable care to minimise risk to themselves and others.
This policy extends to activities and situations related to the University and University business that may not be conducted on the University premises and sites, and includes the University's employee and student accommodation and all University sporting and recreational clubs and facilities, to the extent that the location/personnel are under the control and administration of the University. Examples include field trips, conferences, student camps, inter-University events and functions.
This policy applies to any colleague or bystander who witnesses or is otherwise exposed to bullying behaviour towards or by an employee or student of the University.
Where a matter arises between a University employee or student and a person not employed by the University but undertaking official duties for the University (e.g. an external supervisor), the matter will be dealt with according to this policy. When allegations are raised against a person who is not an employee of the University, and not undertaking official duties for the University but for another employer, the University will liaise with that person's employer to ensure that the matter is dealt with promptly using the most appropriate procedures.
Students and employees on placement outside the University are protected by the policies of the organisations with which they are placed. In the event of a student experiencing bullying while on placement the hosting organisation would usually respond to the allegation in consultation with the University (see also https://www.safety.uwa.edu.au/2172320).
Bullying by employees is considered misconduct and will be dealt with as misconduct under the terms of the relevant enterprise agreement. Bullying by students will be dealt with under the provisions of Statue 17 and the Regulations made pursuant to that Statute.
Workplace bullying is predicated on a pattern of behaviour that a reasonable person in the circumstances would view as victimising, humiliating, undermining or threatening. In order to maintain objectivity for investigation and litigation purposes, the 'reasonable person' legal test applies.
3.1 Bullying behaviour is that which causes individuals to be harmed, intimidated, threatened, victimised, undermined, offended, degraded, or humiliated, whether alone or in front of other employees, students or visitors to the University.
Bullying occurs when:
3.2 An individual or a group may instigate bullying behaviour.
3.3 Bullying can be carried out indirectly, for example via letters, emails or telephone text messages.
3.4 Bullying may include "upward bullying" where bullying behaviour is directed towards a supervisor/manager or a person in authority.
3.5 Bullying is not limited to, but may include repeated and unreasonable behaviour such as:
3.6 Covert or more subtle behaviour that undermines, disempowers, or treats others less favourably is also bullying, and may include;
3.7 Bullying does not include the appropriate, respectful and objective exercise of the employer's legal right (and/or manager/supervisor's responsibility) to direct and control how work is done, monitor workflow, and give feedback in a reasonable manner to an employee on their performance; or reasonable management action.
Reasonable management action may include for example:
If an employee or student has performance problems, these should be identified and reviewed according to the appropriate University procedures.
In the case of staff Supervisor/Managers can contact ERMS for advice.
In situations where an employee or student is dissatisfied with the procedure adopted by their Supervisor/Manager in conducting performance management, the problem should be raised in an appropriate manner with the supervisor in the first instance.
Bullying involving a physically violent and/or coercive component, such as physical assault or threats of violence, including stalking and cyber-stalking, may constitute a criminal offence. Any person subjected to such incidents should seek advice and support concerning reporting the matter to the police.
The report of a matter to the police or other external body does not remove the responsibility of the University from taking appropriate action.
Employees or students who have been the target of bullying behaviour or who have otherwise witnessed bullying behaviour are encouraged to disclose bullying.
5.1 Employees and students should bring bullying behaviours to the attention of the relevant supervisor or line manager.
5.2 Employees and students are obliged to disclose information relating to bullying allegations or investigations where:
All employees and students have a right to participate in an environment free from bullying behaviour.
6.1 Under applicable legislation employers and employees must take reasonable care to minimise risk to themselves and others.
All employees and students have a responsibility to uphold the University's policy on the prevention and resolution of bullying, and to comply with the relevant legislation.
It is anticipated that most complaints will be resolved at the local level.
The procedures outlined in this policy should be followed when managing a complaint of bullying.
7.1 The University encourages people subjected to, or otherwise exposed to bullying (witnesses) to seek advice and support within the University in the first instance.
7.2 If possible the person subjected to, or otherwise exposed to bullying (witness) should take action and state an objection directly to the people or person exhibiting bullying behaviour.
If possible the person subjected to, or otherwise exposed to bullying (witness), should take action and state an objection directly to the respondent.
Taking action can be as simple as speaking up and making it clear to the respondent that you find such behaviour unacceptable, seeking appropriate support and advice, and promoting mutual respect.
7.3 If it is not appropriate for the witness (or person subjected to, or otherwise exposed to bullying) to raise the matter directly with the people or person exhibiting bullying behaviour, then the witness (or person subjected to, or otherwise exposed to bullying) can seek appropriate advice and support.
The University encourages individuals to seek advice and support within the University in the first instance. Attempts should be made to resolve the complaint within the University where this is possible and appropriate. It is anticipated that most complaints will be resolved at the local level.
8.1 Both the complainant and respondent can seek advice from one of the following support areas:
Personnel that represent an early or first point of contact for a bullying disclosure should listen to the witness (or person subjected to, or otherwise exposed to bullying) with respect and empathy, providing informed information and support.
Advice and support should include offering information about Employee Assistance Programs, specialist services within the University (for example ERMS, Mediation, Counselling Services, Medical Centre, OSDS staff development programs, services offered by the Guild, and Equity and Diversity Officers, and Allies.
8.2 When giving advice, employees must heed mandatory records and recording procedures (see Records Management below) and confidentiality requirements (see "duty of confidentiality" in definitions) and procedural fairness (see procedural fairness in the procedures below 9.3).
The provision of support can include:
Assisting the witness (or person subjected to, or otherwise exposed to bullying) in clarifying whether the offending behaviour constitutes bullying;
Informing the witness (or person subjected to, or otherwise exposed to bullying) of their rights as well as the rights of the respondent;
Discussing ways in which the problem might be resolved by the witness (or person subjected to, or otherwise exposed to bullying), with or without intervention by a third party;
Identifying sources of referral and support where appropriate, including medical, police, counselling and other relevant support services;
Assisting the complainant in clarifying their options for resolving the problem; and, discussing the options of mediation and formal investigation of complaints.
The support person or area that advises and supports the witness (or person subjected to, or otherwise exposed to bullying) is advised to follow the matter up after a reasonable period of time to determine whether the matter remains resolved.
8.3 If after seeking advice, the matter is resolved to the satisfaction of the witness (or person subjected to, or otherwise exposed to bullying) after the provision of information and support, no further action will be taken.
9.1 If the matter is not resolved to the satisfaction of the witness (or person subjected to, or otherwise exposed to bullying) after the provision of information and support, the witness (or person subjected to, or otherwise exposed to bullying) or support person should raise the matter, as a complaint about staff behaviour, with the supervisor/manager of the people or person exhibiting bullying behaviour.
Raising the matter, as a complaint about staff behaviour, with the supervisor or manager of the people or person exhibiting bullying behaviour.
The complainants can be the person who has been the target of bullying behaviour and/or others who have witnessed bullying behaviour. Witnesses to bullying behaviour may lodge a complaint. The complainant may lodge a bullying complaint with the University through the Complaint Resolution Unit, or ERMS according to relevant industrial and/or Safety, Health and Wellbeing frameworks at any stage.
A complainant can access support and advice from any of the areas listed in the procedures (see Clause 8).
Throughout the process both the complainant and the respondent may have a support person with them. Support persons are to be made aware of and abide by the University's confidentiality requirements (see definition of confidentiality according to this policy).
The complainant should seek advice as to whether the behaviour warrants reporting to an external agency (e.g. police).
The complaint should be directed to the respondent's immediate supervisor/manager who can consult with staff in ERMS, Safety, Health, and Wellbeing, Equity and Diversity etc.
Where a conflict of interest (whether direct or indirect) exists, the complaint should be directed to the supervisor or manager of that immediate supervisor. This person is responsible for lodging the complaint with the Manager, Complaints Resolution Unit or logging it into the complaint handling database.
9.2 The Supervisor or Manager of the people or person exhibiting bullying behaviour will conduct a preliminary enquiry. A preliminary inquiry should serve to establish whether resolution of the matter can be achieved in a just, prompt and confidential manner at the local level. A preliminary inquiry should be conducted in accordance with the University's Records Management policy and procedural fairness (clause 9.3) and duty of confidentiality as defined in this policy.
A preliminary inquiry should serve to establish whether resolution of the matter can be achieved in a just, prompt and confidential manner at the local level. Care should be taken by the manager/supervisor (case manager) not to pre-judge either party or to dismiss a matter as not warranting attention. The manager/supervisor may utilise a range of strategies in resolving the complaint whilst ensuring that principles of procedural fairness (see Procedural fairness clause 9.3) are observed.
The preliminary inquiry assesses whether the matter requires a formal investigation. After a preliminary inquiry, if allegations are assessed as not requiring further investigation, the complainant and respondent will be advised and, unless further information is forthcoming, the complaint will be closed.
However, even if the matter can be resolved at the local level, it is important to utilise support from other areas of expertise in order to manage the situation effectively.
9.3 The preliminary enquiry should observe procedural fairness by
Procedural fairness to all parties is to be ensured and may include:
- Ensuring that the respondent is aware of the nature and the grounds of the complaint made about them or their actions;
- Providing sufficient opportunity for the witness, complainant or respondent to present their case;
- Discussing the complaint through separate interviews or meetings with all parties to the complaint;
- Giving reasonable notice to all parties of any interviews or meetings regarding the complaint they are required to attend;
- As far as possible, restricting information about the complaint to those who are directly involved;
- Being fair and not taking matters that are not relevant into account.
- Ensuring awareness of avenues of support or advice and appeal.
9.4 If the Supervisor/Manager conducting the preliminary inquiry (the case manager) assesses the matter as not requiring further investigation, the witness and respondent will be advised and, unless further information is forthcoming, the matter will be closed.
9.5 If the Supervisor/Manager conducting the preliminary inquiry (the case manager) assesses the matter requires further investigation, the matter will be pursued with the people or person exhibiting bullying behaviour.
9.6 Complainants are not party to any arrangements made or disciplinary action taken in relation to the respondents and the preliminary enquiry.
9.7 If the preliminary enquiry establishes facts (not disputed) then the supervisor or manager should take appropriate steps to resolve the complaint.
If the preliminary enquiry establishes facts (not disputed) then appropriate steps should be taken to resolve the complaint, including:
- Discussing ways in which the problem might be resolved by the respondent, with or without intervention by a third party;
- Assisting the respondent in clarifying their options for resolving the problem; and,
- Informing the respondent of their rights as well as the rights of the complainant;
- Informing the respondent of their obligations under the Code of Conduct, and Code of Ethics, this policy and The Fair Work Act 2009.
- Assisting the respondent/s in clarifying how the offending behaviour constitutes bullying;
- Identifying sources of referral and support where appropriate, including medical, police, counselling and other relevant support services;
- Discussing the option of mediation and formal investigation of complaints.
9.8 The University will extend its duty of care to people subjected to or those otherwise exposed to bullying (witnesses).
9.9 Responses to concerned parties should be provided in a timely manner.
10.1 When the preliminary inquiry determines that an allegation of bullying is of sufficient substance to warrant an investigation, the university assumes responsibility for pursuing the matter with the respondent, and there is no obligation to inform the complainant of the course of management.
10.2 Bullying behaviour exhibited by staff members may be deemed misconduct and subject to disciplinary action under the terms of the appropriate enterprise agreement.
10.3 If the preliminary inquiry determines that an allegation of bullying is of sufficient substance to warrant an investigation and the allegations are about the behaviour of a student, the case manager will follow the misconduct processes as set out in University Statute 17 and/or the Regulations made pursuant to that Statute.
All investigations should ensure procedural fairness to all parties.
If the preliminary inquiry determines that an allegation of bullying is of sufficient substance to warrant an investigation and the allegations are about the behaviour of a student, and the case manager will follow the misconduct processes as set out in University Statute 17 and the Regulations made pursuant to that Statute.
If the preliminary inquiry determines that an allegation of bullying is of sufficient substance to warrant an investigation and the allegations are about the behaviour of an employee, the case manager will follow misconduct or serious misconduct processes for employees as set out in the relevant enterprise agreement (https://www.hr.uwa.edu.au/page/95944).
The University Records Management Policy must be observed for confidential records.
The University Policy on Conflict of Interest must be observed at all times.
Liaise with Appropriate Area with Expertise
If it appears further investigation and/or possible disciplinary action is required then the case manager will liaise as appropriate with ERMS; Equity and Diversity; the Manager Complaints Resolution Unit; Safety, Health and Wellbeing; Student Services; the Guild of Undergraduates; or other relevant area of expertise to refer the matter to the Registrar or Associate Director ERMS.
If misconduct action is a possibility, the matter must be referred to ERMS in the case of an employee, or to the Registrar in the case of a student, so that the matter can be dealt with under the appropriate agreement/regulations.
11.1 Supervisors/managers and other key teaching or academic supervisory employees have a particular responsibility
11.2 Supervisors/managers should take appropriate action in circumstances where they become aware of instances of possible bullying, even without a complaint being lodged, and complete a risk assessment.
As bullying poses a potential risk to employees and students, it may be helpful to consider risk assessment. Such an assessment should be carried out by the individual, Safety, Health and Wellbeing officers and supervisors/managers.
The University's General Risk Assessment form may be used (see https://www.safety.uwa.edu.au/safety_management).
11.3 All supervisors/managers who are the first point of contact for the complainant are encouraged to contact the Associate Directors of Equity and Diversity, or ERMS, or Safety, Health and Wellbeing, or, the Manager, Complaints Resolution Unit, for advice in the first instance.
11.4 Supervisors, Managers and Heads, and other staff who are the first point of contact for complainants, have a responsibility to ensure that their areas are free from bullying.
Supervisors, Managers and Heads, and other staff who are the first point of contact for complainants, have a responsibility to ensure that their areas are free from bullying by
• Making sure their students/employees are familiar with this policy;
• Ensuring new employees are made aware of this policy, the Code of Ethics and the Code of Conduct upon commencement of employment.
• Modelling exemplary behaviour in this regard themselves;
• Ensuring that employees and students are aware of appropriate and acceptable standards of behaviour;
• Making known names and locations of employees, such as Equity and Diversity Advisers, Human Resources personnel (e.g. Equity and Diversity, Employee Relations and Management Services , Safety, Health and Wellbeing officers) who are able to provide preliminary advice and assistance;
• Taking early action when concerns are expressed even in the absence of a complaint of bullying;
• Following up promptly when a bullying matter is raised;
• Considering risk assessment; and
• Contacting the Associate Directors of Equity and Diversity, or ERMS or Safety, Health and Wellbeing, or the Manager, Complaints Resolution Unit for advice in the first instance.
• Keeping brief and accurate details of allegations of bullying and any subsequent investigations of these in accordance with the University's Records Management Policy (see https://www.governance.uwa.edu.au/2426906).
Brief and accurate details of allegations of bullying and any subsequent investigations of these should be recorded in keeping with the University's Records Management Policy Procedures.
The University as an employer is required to comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 (WA) including when implementing remedial and preventative action, which may be required in response to allegations of bullying.
13.1 Duty of care considerations will include an assessment of the safety of people involved in the matter, and may require employee relocation or adjustment of duties and reporting lines, or the University timetable, while the matter is addressed. Remedial and preventative action (including disclosure of necessary information) is required under this policy;
13.2 The University has both legal obligations and a duty of care to all its employees and students, which may take precedence over a complainant's desire for confidentiality.
TRIM File No:
Related Policies or legislation:
UWA Racial Harassment Policy UP07/15