WorkSafe ACT: CIT bullying investigation completed

WorkSafe ACT has completed their investigation into workplace bullying at the Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT). This is according to ACT Work Safety Commissioner Mark McCabe who said that the investigation was conducted in response to representations made to WorkSafe ACT by several staff about CIT policies and procedures for handling bullying and harassment complaints.

“The WorkSafe ACT investigation found that the CIT had breached its responsibilities under the Territory’s health and safety legislation,” Mr McCabe said.

WorkSafe ACT’s inspector determined that the CIT does not have an adequate system for preventing or responding to allegations of bullying and harassment in the workplace.”

WorkSafe ACT issued an improvement notice requiring the CIT to improve its systems and procedures in preventing and managing bullying and harassment complaints from staff. They were given six months to comply with a number of specific requirements in the Notice designed to achieve this outcome.

“Bullying should not be tolerated in any workplace and all ACT businesses should have appropriate systems in place to identify and reduce cases of bullying  in the workplace,” said Mr McCabe.

One thought on “WorkSafe ACT: CIT bullying investigation completed

  1. It seems to me that whilst many organisations have developed and implemented a policy designed to prevent, detect or resolve counterproductive workplace behaviours such as bullying, there may have little consideration given to related systems or processes or even to the workplace culture.

    It also appears that in some cases, individuals who have been subjected to various forms of counterproductive behaviours have little confidence that the ‘organisation’ will treat their complaint seriously. They also seem to believe that the alleged bully is protected, and there is little point in making a complaint. Invariably I am told by those who seek my advice that they “can’t afford to leave due to the economic climate”. They stay on in the organisation and continue on the downward spiral when they simply hit a wall.

    It is also important to note that in some cases, the target may go for some time before they actually decide to take action. In some cases, it might well be the case that the organisation is not aware of ‘unreported’ cases, and hence don’t believe there is a major issue.

    The issue of workplace bullying and harassment is the subject of extensive discussion on various forums with a range of strategies being suggested. It seems that a number of contributors suggest that just having a policy and procedures is not sufficient. It has to be backed up with an implementation plan that should include training and regular reviews or assessments to determine whether or not the policy and procedures are actually working.

    I would suggest that organisations should at least consider ‘in house’ mock Court sessions where there is an opportunity to practice responses. This can help identify gaps in the policy and procedure, as well as testing officer and worker knowledge on how to respond.

    It is also important to ensure that line managers and supervisors receive appropriate training so that they can manage workplace conflict when it first occurs and before it escalates out of control.

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