According to research conducted by the Australian Federal Government, 1 in 4 students aged between 4 and 9 is being bullied in schools every few weeks. Bullying in Australia is being practiced in different forms, whether overtly which is also known as face to face bullying, covertly, or as cyber bullying. Since bullying is the fourth common reason why children ask for help from the children’s help services, Australia’s schools started saying “Bullying. No Way!”.
Bullying in Australian Schools
Bullying in schools does not only include the bullying that happens between students, but it includes any act of bullying done on the school property whether it involves students only or teachers as well. In 2007, a research conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics, showed that nearly a third of all the students aged between 12 and 16 are being bullied at schools and almost on a daily basis.
Bullying in schools involves the individual bullying, that only involves one to one, which can take place in the school itself and can continue to reach the person being bullied online, it goes from the physical to the emotional bullying, and according to the 2009 Wesley Report on bullying that was conducted by an Australia based group, the individual bullying occurs mostly among the elementary school students and it can appear anywhere the pack group can and can also go beyond that to the places that a pack bulling cannot, such as bathrooms. But the pack bullying was reported to be more dangerous as it can last longer than the individual or the one to one bullying. According the Wesley Report, pack bullying appears most among the students of high schools, and it usually takes place anywhere in the schools starting from the gymnasium and ending with the class rooms, and it can even take place afterwards through online communication that is known as cyber bullying.
According to the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES), bullying in Australian schools takes place most through the emotional bullying that involves saying insults or negative remarks as well as teasing the person being bullied, and then comes the second type which is the physical bullying that involves pushing, hitting, spitting, shoving or tripping the other person. The apparent thing was that bullying in Australian schools was more common in the middle schools from grade 6 to grade 9, more than the bullying that happens in the high school.
The reason why there should be acts and initiatives that help eliminate bullying in Australian schools is the response they carry for the individuals being bullied, which might appear on the long term also, such as:
- Low self esteem
- Difficulty in trusting others or dealing with them at all
- Their difficulty in controlling their anger among people
Bullying in Australian schools, No Way
As a kind of teaching the students, parents and teachers about bullying and how they should act towards it, Australia chose the 15th of March 2015 to be the National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence, which is known to be the fifth National day against bullying and violence. The reason behind marking a day on the calendar for the bullying acts is to strengthen the students to stand strong against such actions and to strengthen their messages that bullying and violence in schools is not an acceptable thing to be done or a behavior to be adopted, they should all say “Bullying, No way”.
The Bullying, No way lessons were previously created throughout the last years, and from them were:
- 2014 Stand Together lesson plans for years 3 to 10 to support the student’s involvement in their school’s approach to countering bullying.
- 2013 Stand Together lesson plans that were suitable for students from age 3 to age 12 to explore the active and safe bystanders for bullying.
- Perspectives on bullying activities available for students from 10 to 12 years which involves students who research their peer’s perspectives on bullying and presenting their outcomes through school forums.
- The Allen Adventure lesson plan which is designed for children from the age 3 to the age 8 which promote social and emotional development and pro-social behavior.
Bullying in Australia, Bully Zero
Another action that was taken in the Australian society was the Bully Zero Australia Foundation that aims at protecting and empowering Australians to live a fulfilling life free from any act of bullying with all its forms. Bully Zero Australia Foundation not only aims at raising awareness among individuals about what is bullying and it’s devastating consequences among schools, work places and the community as a whole, but they also stand side by side with the victims of the bullying acts, give all the support to them and their families in taking actions towards bullying and to create a positive change.
Preventing Bullying in Australian Schools
Parents and teachers should be involved in the process of preventing their children and students from being bullied or from even practicing some bullying acts on others. From the steps that need to be taken is:
- First, to make the children understand what is bullying and what acts are to be considered bullying and what should not be stated under bullying acts. And that any kind of mistreating others whether in schools or at home should be not allowed.
- Second, report any incidents, whether they are incidents to be told in order for the children to understand more, or on the other hand where the children can report any incident that happens to them.
- Third, encouraging the children to see positivity in the other person who they are dealing with rather than seeing the negative points in them.
- Fourth, encourage them to respect other people.
- Fifth, deal with fear and anger and teach them how to control their emotions even if they were being mistreated, to avoid any acts of bullying through the process.
- Sixth, children should be taught how to build new friendships, the genuine ones, which will encourage them to go out and to enroll themselves in school activities and even after school such as planning a sleepover.
- Seventh, teachers and parents should encourage resilience, in which they will be able to express themselves, share their own opinions while having a good contact with the person they are talking to and even using their body language correctly and eye contacting the person frequently. Such things can be practiced over dinner.
Bullying in Australian Workplaces
Workplace bullying is usually an abuse of power by someone who is more powerful and stronger in the workplace either financially, physically, mentally, verbally, socially or even politically. It is usually a repeated unreasonable behavior by a reasonable person towards someone who is working in the same place or towards a group of employees, which would threaten them and cause some kind of creating a risk in the health and safety issues.
According to a report done by Safe World Australia (SWA) it was found that the Australian workplace bullying level is higher than the international rates, and the Australian workplace bullying project included responses that stated that nearly 42% of males are being sworn or yelled at in the workplace, more than 20% of workers were humiliated in front of others, almost 20% experiences discomfort due to some sexual humor, and 6.9% women experienced unwanted sexual advances, while 14.8% of women experienced bad treatment due to gender. The bullying acts that take place in the workplaces in Australia, does not only affect the person being bullied or the “victim” but it affects the whole organization and the way they should operate, and that’s why the Australian Human Rights Commission believes that the workplace bullying can cost the Australian employers between $6 and $36 billion every year when hidden and lost opportunity costs are considered. Even when it goes back to 2001, when one of Australia’s leading employment agencies said that “the antics of one serial bully in the workplace had the potential to reduce the performance of their victims by half, and that of other employees by up to 33%”.
There are usually different types of shapes of bulling in the workplace, and it includes:
- Unreasonable criticism, which is not part of the management performance process, which comes without any reason.
- Verbal and physical threats, that might come in the form of shouting in front of other employers or might happen on a side talk.
- Making fun about an employee that might include their family, their look or their gender.
- Initiation or hazing, when the employee is asked to do humiliating or inappropriate tasks in order to be accepted.
- Intimidation, when the employee is being made to feel less accepted and less important.
Since the first of January, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) has jurisdiction to deal with bullying complaints raised by employees and has the power to make and order for the bullying to stop.
Bullying Cases in Australia
Green v DB Group Services (UK) Ltd.  EWHC 1898 (QB) (01 August 2006), Ms Green was subjected to a campaign of harassment by people who work near to her in the same company, this behavior included ignoring her, or even laughing when she passes by them, making lewd remarks and hiding her posts. Ms Green considered taking the problem to her employer and the HR department but nothing was taken seriously and no effective steps were taken towards her complaints. But later on three out of the four women who were responsible for these acts left the organization. In 2006, Ms Green was awarded damages of nearly 2 million Australian Dollars as a result of the bullying and harassment that she was subjected to.
Neal and Shaw McDonald Pty Ltd and another  NSWIRComm 298 (22 September 2003), finding that a law firm had victimized and dismissed a legal secretary, Deputy President of the NSW Industrial Relations Commission found that a senior partner had used language which was “grossly offensive and completely unacceptable”. In his judgment, he added, “moreover, for such language to be used in the workplace by a partner in a law firm with an industrial relations practice, I found to be almost beyond belief”. He awarded 20 weeks’ compensation ($19,660.00) to Ms Toni Neal who was made redundant.
Swaran Lata Kumar v Macquarie Partnership Lawyers  NSWIRComm 202 (Sams DP) 14 July 2005, Ms Kumar complained several times that her pay is always late, following the complaints that the respondent was intent on forcing her out of employment, and accordingly bullied her in a number of different ways that included employment humiliation, isolation and hurtful behavior. The Deputy President found that the dismissal was unfair, and the judgment stated that “it would seem unarguable that any dismissal of an employee which was found to be the culmination of a pattern of victimization would be found to be unfair”. The respondent then was asked to pay the victim 38 weeks at the rate of $627 per week.
Schneider v Vehicle Assembly Australia Pty Limited  NSWIRComm 1109 7 July 2005, a woman performing office and driving duties for a caravan manufacturer was unreasonably abused in circumstances where the employer had made unreasonable and even humiliating demands upon the applicant. The employer had insisted that the applicant do the company banking during her lunch break. He had also demanded that the woman ask bank tellers to fax a copy of a bank cheque drawn in favor of a supplier back to the office. She had reluctantly done so but was embarrassed at having to make such an unusual request. The commission held that the employer’s request that she drive to the suppliers’ premises in the afternoon was reasonably refused by the applicant. Her summary dismissal was unwarranted and unfair. “The mere fact that she [was] an employee and often seen by some as a servant, [did] not excuse the sort of conduct that [the employer] indulged in.” The commission awarded her an amount of $8,400 gross.
Bullying Stories in Australia
Stuart McGregor, 41 years old from Townsville
McGregor witnessed in his school days some bullying actions toward him, he said that he was being seen as a nerd but what made others want to make fun of him and practice some bullying acts is that he was a red head. Due to these bullying acts Stuart was always being afraid to go to the toilet in case the bullies might follow him and take his hair off as they were always threatening. These bullying acts took place in the school itself and even in the bus that he sometimes had to get out of the bus on an early station because his belongings were being thrown out of the windows. According to such acts, Stuart started to have physical illnesses at the age of 13 like bowel syndrome and chest pains which was all stress related. Stuart thinks that the flashbacks still affect his life, and his marriage which ended because he couldn’t bear his father-in-law.
Kylie Lang, 28 years old from Sydney
Kylie Lang has a mild disability that is known as EhlersDonlas Syndrome which is a connective tissue disorder that among other things causes her to have frequent and recurrent joint dislocations, fractures and ligament/muscle tears which happen on a daily basis and leads her to always wear some sort of bandage. One day Lang was being beaten up by 10 girls who were only 6 years old which lead her to walk away with a fractured eye socket, fractured cheekbone, badly bruised kidneys and spleen, soft tissue damage on the neck and upper spine and a severe concussion that lasted for days. And after that incident Kylie was being beaten up every day in school sometimes even in the bathroom so there would be no witnesses to what is being done, until one day when she reached the age of 13 she decided that she is leaving and never going back again.
Aaqib Abdul Ala, 21 years old from Cairns, Queensland
Abdul Ala who is an Arab Muslim living in Australia was once being bullied at class when he showed his friends and teacher his picture at the Top of the Twin Towers in America that was taken before the bombings of 2001, his friends started saying that Muslims are terrorists and they are the reason for what happened. The thing got even worse after the Bali bombings when he was always hearing “you terrorists, you stupid Muslims”.
Cyber Bullying in Australia
According to the Australian Communications and Media Authority Submissions, it was found that 61% from the age 16 and 17 years old accept friend requests from people they don’t know on the social media, and 78% claim to have some personal information about them such as a personal photograph of themselves on the social media networking profile pages, that makes cyber bullying more apparent in the Australian community with the usage of the technology that is taking its way up day after the other.
ACMA also stated that young people between the ages 14 and 17 had the highest internet rate in year 2010 with 91% of them going online weekly, in which 2 in every 3 says that internet is “very” and “extremely” important to them, while 75% from the age of 16 and 17 says that mobile phones are”very” and “extremely” important to them.
Cyber bullying can take the form of sending e-mails and text messages or violating the information of a person online by sharing a private picture of them or even sharing some wrong information. Cyber bullying might also involve sending audio and video messages to the victim that might threaten him. It does not only take place between students or in schools but cyber bullying is available also in workplaces and in the community in general.
There are some criminal laws in Australia that might be used against some bullying acts and from these laws are:
- Misuse of Telecommunication services: in which the Common Wealth Criminal Act 1995 makes it a criminal act to misuse telecommunication services. Because cyber bullying comprises the abuse of internet and phone services, this law may provide a form of redress against cyber bullies.
- Assaults, intimidation and harassment at school (NSW): New South Wales is the only Australian Jurisdiction to enact legislation specifically directed at bullying in schools. In its terms, this law includes cyber bullying.
- Stalking and harassment: stalking and harassment laws exist in the entire Australian jurisdiction, making it an offence to threaten, intimidate or harass a person.
- Criminal defamation: While prosecution for criminal defamation is rare, where cyber-bullies post derogatory or denigrating material on the internet that reaches a high level of criminality, state prosecution may be warranted. This offence exists in all Australian jurisdictions.
Bullying in all its forms and types is considered some type of violence, and any person whether in schools or workplaces should not be faced by such acts. People should be taught that any act that will lead to the discomfort of the person in front of him/her should not be done or accepted. People should live their lives simply without having to deal with situations that lead to nothing but social and physical illnesses.