ABUSIVE CULTURE: Melissa Cohen wants to stamp out workplace bullying.
ABUSIVE CULTURE: Melissa Cohen wants to stamp out workplace bullying. Mike Knott

Woman's effort to stamp out workplace bullying

A CAMPAIGN being led by a Bundaberg woman to stamp out workplace bullying has received positive feedback from the community, with only about 100 of the 500 information posters remaining.

Melissa Cohen launched the Bully Free Zone posters recently to make the community aware that bullying was not acceptable by outlining what constitutes bullying and the effect it has on victims.

"It's making a difference and people are having a look at their behaviour," she said.

"People can be afraid to speak up and ask 'am I a bully?' because they don't want to draw attention to themselves.

"The posters outline bullying behaviour so they realise what bullying is and make those changes to their behaviour."

Ms Cohen believes communication is the key to ridding workplaces of bullying.

"Victims have to stand up and confront the bully and ask why they are acting this way," she said.

"Often bullies don't realise their actions are bullying.

"As a society we need to talk about this so we don't pass the behaviour on to our kids."

Do you think you have suffered workplace bullying?

This poll ended on 27 July 2013.

Current Results

Yes I believe I have

86%

I'm not sure

0%

No, I don't believe so

13%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

But Ms Cohen also wants harsher penalties for those people deliberately making life difficult for others, including fines, criminal conviction and even jail time.

"Bullying can leave people so traumatised that they can't work anymore, they have to take medication and become depressed."

"It can trigger comfort eating, drinking and drug use.

"It destroys people lives."

The comments came as the ACTU called for proposed Codes of Practice on workplace bullying to be strengthened and combined with regulation which makes it a responsibility of employers to provide a bullying-free workplace.

ACTU president Ged Kearney said workplace bullying caused long-term mental and emotional damage to victims and cost the economy upwards of $6 billion each year.

Do you think you have bullied other people in the workplace?

This poll ended on 27 July 2013.

Current Results

No, definitely not

55%

Maybe, but I didn't mean to upset anyone

22%

Yes, I've bullied colleagues

22%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

In a submission to Safe Work Australia on its draft Code of Practice for workplace bullying, the ACTU said it supported the establishment of a Code of Practice, but that regulation was also required.

"Workplace bullying damages lives, and it should be treated in the same way as other workplace hazards," Ms Kearney said.

"Employers are required by law to provide a safe workplace, and this should include acting to prevent bullying."

Ms Kearney said it was not good enough to treat bullying as isolated incidents or personality clashes.

She said employers must recognise bullying is often a product of the culture they create in the workplace.