On 18 October 2011, there was a brief discussion on workplace bullying in the ACT Legislative Assembly of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). The question to Chief Minister Katy Gallagher, stemmed, ostensibly, from a recent WorkSafe ACT assessment of Canberra restaurants and food retailers. The assessment identified that:
“… only 66 per cent of food outlets were compliant with workplace bullying regulations.”
Such a statement needs considerable explanation to be of use in safety management but it led to a further question from Greens MP Meredith Hunter, one which indicates the confused status of workplace bullying control options.
“Minister, what consideration has the ACT government given to bullying as a ground for discrimination under the ACT’s Discrimination Act, which would give complainants and respondents to bullying complaints access to the Human Rights Commission’s investigation and conciliation functions and clear remedies for victimisation of a person making a complaint?”
It is unreasonable to expect that a Code of Practice on workplace bullying drafted under OHS laws would have the capacity to control the hazard, or provide sufficient guidance, when there are other avenues for restitution that are far more involved, such as discrimination and human rights commissions and tribunals.