On 12 December 2017, part of Australia’s screen and television industry held a forum in Sydney about sexual harassment in the sector and what could be done to reduce this workplace hazard. This initiative occurred a day before an open letter was published about sexual harassment in the music industry. There is a momentum for change on sexual harassment in the workplace, but it is at risk of resulting in a fragmented approach which will generate turf wars, confusion and, ultimately, ineffectiveness.
Login or subscribe to SafetyAtWorkBlog to continue reading.
The current edition of SouthAsia magazine has a short report on occupational health and safety (OHS) in Bangladesh that illustrate the political and social challenges for workers and citizens in a country. The article, “Poor Workplace Safety” (not available online) states that government data for 2016 list more than 1,225 workers killed and over 500 injured. After these figures, and the fact that Bangladesh has a history of catastrophic workplace disasters, the author, Mohammad Waqar Bilal, states
“In fact, the issue of workers’ safety has never been considered by the government on a priority basis.”
According to the Canberra Times, a company board has been served with an improvement notice over inadequate attention to workplace bullying claims in a retirement home. The ABC television program, 7.30, has followed up workplace bullying claims aired earlier this month with a further case on 25 September 2012 with savage criticism of WorkSafe Victoria’s actions in the case.
The Australian Government has completed the public hearings of its Parliamentary Inquiry into workplace bullying. Bullying is everywhere but little seems to be happening to address the various elements and deficiencies of the regulatory system.
Workplace bullying is a hazard that must be recognized, addressed and punished, but above all prevented. “Brodie’s Law” was always going to be a part of this challenge but never the solution.
Today’s Age newspaper bemoans the fact that “Brodie’s Law” has not been applied since its introduction 12 months ago. This is not surprising and the article provides some clues to why.
The application of this law seems now to be mainly intended for the Victorian Police force and, as with any police force, there are a great many items on their agenda of which workplace bullying is only one.
Policing and harm prevention
It can also be asked why the Victorian Police force is policing a workplace issue? Workplace safety is principally the responsibility of the employer or, in the new language, person conducting a business or undertaking. The bullies and employer involved in the bullying of Brodie Panlock were prosecuted under occupational health and safety law, not the Crimes Act. Continue reading “Brodie’s Law not being applied. Perhaps a broader context is needed.”
This announcement seems to be another that is buried or overtaken by current political events. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation mentioned workplace bullying as a “silent epidemic”. There is a strong risk that the politicians are overstating the workplace bullying case. WorkSafe Victoria receives thousands of enquiries about workplace bullying but only a portion of them fit the workplace bullying definition and only a handful proceed to a prosecution. The government needs to be careful that it is not operating to a perception of workplace bullying instead of the reality, even though the community outrage is genuinely felt.
The Age newspaper and AAP, basically printed an edited media release but the most significant statements have not been printed. These are the comments by the Prime Minister, Minister Shorten and the parents of Brodie Panlock, Damian and Rae. Below is a selection or statements from the doorstop transcript:
PM : “I’ve have had the opportunity to have a conversation with Damian and with Rae about their family experience and they will talk about that family experience themselves, but it led to the loss of their daughter Brodie. And they fought hard here in Victoria for Brodie’s law, to have a law that deals with serious bullying at work. Continue reading “Workplace bullying hits the national agenda in Australia”