Key points

  • If you think you are being bullied, there are a number of options you have to address the issue.
  • Your workplace should have a policy to set the standard of conduct between employees and how to report misconduct.
  • It is important if you suspect your behaviour may have been bullying or harassment to listen to any feedback, reflect on your behaviour and take responsibility for your actions.
  • If you report bullying or harassment, you should expect your allegation to be treated with confidentiality.

What can I do if I think I am being bullied?

  • Talk to someone and seek advice

    This could come from your manager, human resources contact, employee assistance program, Health and Safety Representative, union or professional association representative, WorkSafe Victoria’s advisory service or the Fair Work Commission.

    Safer Care Victoria is currently piloting an independent facilitator program. Staff at Melbourne Health, The Royal Women’s Hospital, Albury Wodonga Health, Corryong Health, Northeast Health Wangaratta and Tallangatta Health may wish to contact their independent facilitator to discuss their issue.

  • Check your workplace’s bullying policy

    This sets out the standard of behaviour that needs to be followed at work and should list how and where to report issues.

    Your manager or human resources contact can provide you with your organisation’s policies and procedures on workplace bullying. Check your workplace’s bullying and harassment policy, if they have one. If your workplace does not have a policy, ask your employer about how inappropriate behaviours should be managed.

  • If you feel confident and safe, you can self-manage the issue

    You can do this by directly telling the other person that their behaviour is not welcome. Calmly and politely explain that it's not OK to treat you this way. It's possible that the person is unaware that what he or she is doing is upsetting you and will apologise. If the behaviour continues or gets worse, you should make a formal report.

  • Report workplace bullying

    Refer to your organisation’s bullying policy for information on how and where to make a report.

  • Consider reporting to WorkSafe
    WorkSafe's Advisory Service can provide information on bullying and how to prevent it, advice on how to raise the issue of bullying in your workplace or refer the matter to a WorkSafe inspector (where appropriate).
  • Consider contacting police
    If your allegation of bullying involves assault or threats of assault, acts of violence, sexual assault, damage to property or stalking, you should contact Victoria Police.
  • Consider applying to the Fair Work Commission
    The Fair Work Commission can issue an order to stop the bullying.

Harassment and sexual harassment

If you feel you have been harassed, sexually harassed or discriminated against based on sex, disability, race or age you can contact either the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (1300 292 153) or the Australian Human Rights Commission (1300 656 419). Complaints must be made in writing or by email by downloading a complaints form or completing the online complaint form.

You could also talk to someone and seek advice. This could come from your manager, human resources contact, employee assistance program, Health and Safety Representative, Equal Employment Opportunity Officer, union or professional association representative.

What should I do if I suspect my behaviour towards another worker may have been bullying or harassment?

Bullying and harassment can cause serious physical and mental health issues including high blood pressure, skin and gastrointestinal problems, headaches, depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. 

If you think you may have bullied or harassed a person in your workplace, the first step is to listen to any feedback,  reflect on your behaviour and take responsibility for your actions.

Apologising to the person, accepting any consequences and making immediate changes to how you treat colleagues in the workplace are just some of the immediate steps you can take to prevent another incident from occurring.

This might involve your manager or human resources department depending on how far the matter has escalated.

It might also be worth talking to a professional counsellor to help you understand your behaviour and give you some strategies on how to deal with conflict, other people’s behaviour, feelings and differences in a less harmful way. 

If you are at a health service involved in the independent facilitator trial, you can contact them by visiting the Better Safer Care independent facilitator page.

What will happen when I report bullying or harassment to my employer?

If you report bullying or harassment, you should expect:

  • your employer to take your complaint seriously and to treat you with respect and listen;
  • access to clear policies and procedures the organisation’s complaints management procedure including investigation and response to any allegations of bullying or harassment (usually on the organisation’s internal website);
  • support from your manager, who should know their role and responsibilities when staff report bullying allegations to them; and
  • your allegation to be treated with confidentiality.

If a matter ends up being formally investigated, it should be examined impartially, involve identifying and speaking to relevant parties, assessing reports on their merits and facts and allow for sufficient time.

At the end of an investigation, the person making the complaint should be advised of what action (if any) their employer proposes to take. If a person is aware that a complaint has been made against them, that person should also be advised of the proposed action and be given an opportunity to respond to it.