So, what about Bullying laws Australia? Discover our guide on Bullying Laws Australia!
Earlier this year, seventeen year old Sarah Jean Walker of Melbourne committed suicide after claiming she was being bullied. She was found dead in her family’s western suburbs home. Sarah left a note by her side explaining that she had been bullied and taunted by other teenagers from school. Apparently, the VCE student was involved in an altercation with another teenager the day before she killed herself.
Sarah was described as a happy and athletic girl. Her parents were devastated by the event, but said that they didn’t blame the school or any individual for the tragedy. In fact, they wanted to use this event to bring awareness to other teenagers about the effects of bullying. “Be kind to others and be careful what you say to people,” said Mr. Walker.
Sarah was like any other normal teenage girl. She loved her family, her friends, and was kind to others. On the day of her funeral, a series of death notices were posted in the Herald Sun which revealed the devastating impact of Sarah’s death on family and friends.
Her aunt and uncle wrote: “A life lived too short. Cherished memories of a beautiful and special girl.”
“A shining light with twinkling eyes, a breath of fresh air whose sparkle warmed heart. You are our princess who laughed,” wrote family friend Neona Connolly.
It wasn’t only her family who left reminders of how wonderful of a girl she was. Her teammates from Altona Hockey Club and her classmates also expressed their sorrows.
“She will be remembered for her smile and warmness of heart. She is already greatly missed, but she will never be forgotten,” said one teammate.
Teenage suicide is on the rise in Australia. Since 2005, teen suicides as a result from bullying have tripled. Incidences are being reported daily to local law enforcement, but legally, there is nothing that can be done. In cases such as that of Sarah Jean Walker, physical violence was never reported. It was verbal abuse from other students that led to the tragedy. Multiple cases have gained national recognition which has recently begun to have an effect in the form of national awareness campaigns.
In another highly publicized case, the New South Wales Supreme Court awarded $220,000 for pain and suffering to Benjamin Cox after discovering that the education department had failed to take appropriate action on an ongoing bullying case. According to Caslon.com, the case stemmed from an incident in which Cox was hit and choked by an older boy. His mother made a report to the school, but administration didn’t follow up on the case. She was met with appalling responses such as the one she received from an Education department representative: “Bullying builds character it this could be something good for your son.”
Bullying Laws in Australia have yet to be defined into a single accepted law. There isn’t a national anti-bullying statute and no definitive nationally accepted legal definition of what constitutes bullying. According to Caslon Analytics, The federal nature of law in Australia means that the recognition of bullying varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. As a result, bullying laws have essentially taken three forms. The first action is by state. It acts on behalf of target and the community in addressing egregious abuses under criminal law. Perpetrators may be punish and victims aren’t awarded any type of compensation. The second action comes from the victim. The victim can sue the perpetrator in order to stop the offensive action. The victim is able to gain a compensation for suffering. The third action is known as “articulation of industry codes, best practice statements or statements of principal. One such example is the WorkSafe Western Australia2006 Code of Practice for Violence, Aggression and Bullying at Work. Another example is the WorkSafe Victoria 2005 Guide to Managing OHS in Community Service.
Bullying in Australia doesn’t only occur among children and teenagers. Adults are victimized on a daily basis at work or any other social or professional setting. Likewise, reported cases have increased significantly over the last five years. Efforts to raise awareness on bullying have given many workers the strength to speak about their problem. Often times, managers are accused of bullying their subordinates with threats and offensive behavior. The victims normally are afraid to report such an incident for fear of getting fired.
Workplace bullying in Australia is becoming a major employment issue in the foreseeable future. A new $21.4 million legislation was created to help the Fair work Commission stop bullying in the work place. This is a paralyzing issue that has finally drawn international recognition. The new law will give workers the power to formally require the Fair work Commission to order employers to take action against bullying co-workers.
Bullying destroys a work place. The companies that are the most successful are the ones where mutual respect is a common practice. Bosses who ignore bullying in their workplace should review the Fair Work law amendments. The FWC will have power over any issue regarding bullying that couldn’t be resolved between both parties. Such an amendment can cause work place relations to change dramatically and become more productive. Of course, the law is impeded by human sensitivity. What one person considers to be offensive might not be so offensive to another person. Every company is its own environment where leniency to bullying differs. To counteract this issue, the new Australian anti-bullying legislation does not normally award the victim for damages. That’s why it’s recommended for employers to have thorough policies and record keeping of all complaint procedures.
Upwards bullying awareness will help the workplace significantly. The new laws are aimed to protect employees, but they shouldn’t be allowed to be used by workers who state false claims of bullying to avoid disciplinary or performance management actions.
Although Australia has yet to provide a definitive anti-bullying law, they have surely taking the right steps to attack the issue. As suicides that resulted from bullying increase, national awareness has helped to ignite campaigns against bullying.