According to Minister Dick’s media release on 10 July 2011 the government is setting up a special reference group to examine workplace bullying. A spokesperson for the minister told SafetyAtWorkBlog that the membership of the reference group is unlikely to be finalised.
The Minister is quoted as saying.
“Queensland currently has existing laws to address workplace bullying and protect workers from harassment and the time is right to review these laws….I am establishing a workplace bullying reference group to look into the incidence of bullying and strategies to prevent bullying in Queensland workplaces.
The reference group will consist of senior worker and employer representatives, as well as legal and academic experts. This group will ensure that Queensland’s framework for dealing with workplace bullying remains valid and effective in modern-day workplaces.”
Significantly part of the time being right to review these laws was the recent introduction of Brodie’s Law in Victoria
“This includes the new Victorian laws, which have criminalised the offence of bullying in the workplace and included a reference to bullying in the definition of stalking. The legislation also extended the definition of mental harm to include ‘psychological harm and suicidal thoughts’.”
The media statement also said that the reference group is due to holds its first meeting in August 2011 and will complete its review by 31 December 2011. This timeline is very fortunate as new OHS laws will come into effect one day later on 1 January 2012.
Also this reference group will be able to take advantage of a new draft national code on workplace bullying which is rumoured to be released by Safe Work Australia as part of the second round of codes on 11 July 2011.
A major challenge for Minister Dick and the reference group will be to differentiate control strategies for bullying in the workplace from bullying at school and cyberbullying. Each environment has a different set of rules and power relations that require different control strategies. The chance of success of the reference group will be negatively effected if there are child psychologists or off-topic academics on the group. The structure of the reference group must focus on the specific needs, risks and opportunities for combating workplace bullying.