All posts by TEU

The Tertiary Education Union Te Hautū Kahurangi o Aotearoa represents workers in the tertiary education sector, including universities, polytechnics, institutes of technology, wānanga, & others. Authorised by Sharn Riggs, Tertiary Education Union, 8th Floor, Education House 178-182 Willis St, Wellington 6011

Ethnicity, workplace bullying, social support and psychological strain in Aotearoa/New Zealand

New Zealand Journal of Psychology Vol. 42, No. 2, 2013. This research explored whether respondents who self-identified as New Zealand Europeans experienced less bullying and less severe outcomes than those who self-identified as Māori, Pacific Island or other ethnic groups. Social support was also examined as a potential buffer against the negative effects of bullying – Read more here.

  • Dianne Gardner, Massey University
  • Tim Bentley, Auckland University of Technology
  • Bevan Catley, Massey University
  • Helena Cooper-Thomas, The University of Auckland
  • Michael O’Driscoll, University of Waikato
  • Linda Trenberth, University of London, UK

Young people can help prevent bullying

5 May 2014

Media Release: University of Auckland

Young people have an important role in bullying prevention in schools, according to research from the University of Auckland.

Bullying rates were lower at schools where students take action against bullying, says study leader, Associate Professor Simon Denny.

“Bullying usually takes place in social settings; it’s not just about the bully and the victim as there are often bystanders who can take action to stop the bullying. Our findings suggest that encouraging students to take action to stop bullying of their peers may decrease the prevalence of bullying in schools,” says Dr Denny.

“This requires leadership and support from teachers alongside interventions that develop young people’s empathy, problem solving skills and support positive relationships between peers.”

The study investigated bystander intervention, bullying and victimisation in New Zealand high schools and the results were recently published in the international ‘Journal of School Violence’.

Researchers examined the association between schools and student bullying behaviours and victimisation among a national sample of more than 9000 New Zealand high school students.

The study sought to explore the role of school characteristics and culture with respect to bystander behaviour, (while controlling for individual student factors related to victimisation and bullying behaviours).

“Results indicated that six per cent of students report being bullied weekly or more often, and five per cent of students reported bullying other students at least weekly,” says Dr Denny. “The schools where students take action to stop bullying had less victimisation and less reported bullying among students.”

In contrast, in schools where students reported teachers taking action to stop bullying, there was no decline in victimisation or bullying.

“Overall these findings support whole school approaches that aid students to take action to stop bullying,” says Dr Denny.

It was also found that structural aspects of schools, such as size, type and socio-economic composition were not significant in the reported rates of bullying.

In terms of students bullying others, school type was found to play a small, but significant role with state and integrated schools, reporting lower rates of students bullying others, compared to private schools.


WorkSafe New Zealand releases guidelines for managing workplace bullying

Best practice guidelines on workplace bullying from WorkSafe New Zealand are a big step forward in support and guidance for businesses and individuals about what is a prevalent workplace hazard.

Titled “Preventing and responding to workplace bullying”, the guidelines encourage and support people in taking early self-help action against workplace bullying before seeking assistance from WorkSafe NZ or the mediation service offered by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

WorkSafe NZ General Manager, High Hazards & Specialist Services, Brett Murray, said WorkSafe NZ wanted to help people deal proactively with the issue themselves and to promote healthy work cultures. The guidelines were developed with MBIE, and seek to support employees and employers to respond to situations before they get out of hand and to achieve workplace-based solutions.

“Bullying in the workplace is a difficult issue for everyone concerned. It affects people’s personal health in a variety of ways, and also seriously impacts business productivity.”

A Bullying Prevention Toolbox is also available on WorkSafe NZ’s website.

Mr Murray said the guidelines provide a clear definition of bullying – a first for New Zealand. They also provide specific and targeted advice for both employees and employers.

“We wanted to take the issue of bullying out of the too-hard basket.”

Advice for employees ranges from how to assess if you are being bullied to recording instances of bullying behaviour to a range of low-key solutions.

Advice for employers ranges from how to best respond to reports or allegations of bullying to promoting a healthy and respectful work environment.

The guidelines are officially launched at the Toward Healthy Work for All symposium at Auckland University of Technology today.


Student Safety Audit – NZUSA

NZUSA’s Tertiary Women’s Focus Group produced a Safety Audit of campuses in 2011, which is attached here for download.

Violence against women is a huge problem throughout New Zealand, with many incidents going unreported. Often victims are blamed, the focus is on the behaviour of the victim, and rape myths are perpetuated (“She was asking for it by wearing a short skirt”). The victim is never at fault in cases of harassment and assault, but many people refuse to accept this and continue marginalising victims.

This report is targeted at both Universities and Polytechnics. Tertiary study shapes the lives of many people and it is the responsibility of the campus community to ensure that everyone has good experiences while studying.

Tertiary study is often young people’s first foray into the ‘real world’, therefore it is important to try and create a culture of respect and safety. Institutions must have an appropriate attitude when it comes to issues such as harassment and assault, and should be willing to fix gaps in their procedures when needed. This report attempts to begin this process.

The report consists of three parts –

  1. A review of the sexual harassment policies of every public tertiary education provider in Aotearoa New Zealand,

  2. The results of the NZUSA Student Relationship survey focussed around students’ perceptions of relationship abuse, and

  3. Physical safety audits from select campuses

Harassment and Discrimination a guide to your rights – Working Women’s Resource Centre

Harassment (sexual, racial and bullying) and discrimination in the workplace are serious workplace issues.

At some time we may experience some form of inappropriate behavior from others. If at work, or among work colleagues, this behaviour may be from people of the same or opposite sex.

Depending on how we feel at the time, we may not see the behavior as a problem, we might grin and bear it, try to ignore it or tell the person to stop. We may also attempt to get away from the situation as soon as possible.

When sexual harassment, racial harassment, bullying and/or discrimination occur in the workplace, it raises some very complex issues for all of us.

TEU is a member of the Working Women’s Resource Centre which has recently produced a guide to dealing with harassment in the workplace. Download the guide here.

Thanks to adam_kesher2000 at Flickr for the photo.

The Australian government is considering new tough penalties against workplace bullying

A national advisory service found that workplace bullying is “widespread” and has led to some workers taking their own lives or becoming permanently disabled. An estimated 6.8 per cent to 15 per cent of Australian workers have been bullied, costing the economy between $6 billion and $36 billion each year. A House of Representative committee has proposed a uniform national approach to address workplace bullying, including an agreed definition of what constitutes bullying behaviour. Labour MP Amanda Rishworth, who chaired the inquiry, said society could not ignore the seriousness of bullying in the workplace. ”The psychological and physical detriment to health that bullying had and, of course, the cases that led to suicide were the shocking part for me because it really indicated the seriousness of this,” she said.

[Read more at the Sydney Morning Herald]

Workplace bullying costs millions

From the New Zealand Herald, 13 Oct 2012

A code of practice, not guidelines, is the best way to deal with abuse around the office.

Workplace bullying is costing Kiwi businesses tens of millions of dollars and pressure is being put on the Government to address the problem with “more teeth”.

Professor Tim Bentley of AUT’s New Zealand Work Research Institute says while the Department of Labour is writing guidelines to deal with the problem, its Australian equivalent is implementing a stronger code of practice. Some Australian states outlaw workplace bullying…

[read more…]

Council bullying case costs $300,000

The Auckland Council is paying $300,000 in confidential settlements to two whistleblowers who exposed alleged bullying by a high-ranking officer.

One of the whistleblowers, who suffered mental stress, left his job on July 27 to go on leave on full pay until January next year.

Read more at Council bullying case costs $300,000, New Zealand Herald

(Thanks to AlicePopkorn @ Flickr for the image