Is it time for bullying to have a #MeToo moment?


We called out sexism, racism and abuse, but is it time to call out workplace bullies?

Workplace bullying has hit the headlines recently, with multiple ex-2GB employees claiming they’ve been yelled at or bullied by top-rating radio shock jock, Ray Hadley.

It’s not the first time Hadley’s faced accusations of sustained bad behaviour. In 2004, leaked audio - that was recorded when he thought his mic was off - saw him berating a member of staff:

“He’s a fucken idiot, he’s lost my support that bloke. He’s lost it altogether. He’ll fucken lose me and when I find him I’ll pull his fucken ears.”

Earlier this month, Hadley made a public statement saying that he “took responsibility for his former behaviour.” But critics have said this doesn’t make up for the toll his alleged bullying has had on people’s lives.

The Feed put the issue to you, and found the effects of workplace bullying were - and continue to be - experienced broadly across the community.  

Workplace bullying a widespread issue

We put a call out on social media, asking for people to share their stories. What we heard was overwhelming.

One Facebook post attracted more than 700 responses. Our inbox was flooded by people   reaching out to talk about their experiences.

These were people of all ages, across industries and at different stages of their careers. From coworkers ganging up on employees, to bosses making their workers so miserable that it affected their mental health, the stories painted a disturbing picture.

In some cases, you told us, the bullying had been taking place for years.

It’s time for change, experts say

Zana Bytheway is the executive director of ‘Jobwatch’, an employment rights legal centre in Victoria.

She says it’s now time for workplace bullying victims to make their voices heard.

“There are a lot of advertisements at the moment on TV in respect of women, to respect women. That is an absolute brilliant campaign, the same should apply to bullying,” she told The Feed’s Elise Potaka.

“We all know that prevention of bullying is key, rather than dealing with the aftermath of it.”

Bytheway says combatting the effects of bullying starts with knowing how to recognise it.

“Being ostracised, being frozen out, is a form of bullying. Being overworked is a form bullying and, of course, verbal abuse, physical abuse - they obviously constitute bullying,”

Humiliation, sarcasm, intimidation - there's a whole range of behaviours that constitute bullying. People often don't know that, and they put up with it.

While there are pathways for victims of workplace bullying to seek justice, Bytheway says it’s often a difficult trek.

“You can go to the Fair Work Commission for a ‘stop bullying’ order right here and now. If it's of such serious consequence, you can engage the police. But it's a question of, will they actually do anything?”

As we’ve seen with the #MeToo movement, change - or the possibility of it - only comes when many people open up and share their stories. On top of that, Bytheway says we should call out bullying when we see others engaging in it.

“I think it's absolutely imperative that we all gather together to support a person that's being bullied,” Bytheway said.

“We can step up and do something about it. Support them, go to management...take an active role and say this isn't good enough. Because otherwise the bully will continue the behaviour.”

If you would like to talk to someone about your mental health, here are some people ready for your call:

• SANE Australia Helpline 1800 18 SANE (7263)

• beyondblue support service line 1300 22 46 36

• Lifeline 13 11 14

• MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78

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