Key points

  • If you feel you are being bullied or harassed, there are a range of internal and external support options for you to get support.
  • Workplaces must take reasonable steps to support employees through any allegations of bullying and harassment.
  • Reviewing and acting on reports of bullying and harassment may involve either early intervention or formal investigation processes.
  • There are several ways you can respond if you witness bullying, harassment or inappropriate behaviour, depending on how safe you feel to intervene.

Where can I go for support? 

It’s important to get the right help and, depending on your situation, it might be appropriate for you to seek guidance internally or from another organisation. 

Internal support options include speaking to a supervisor or manager, a Health and Safety representative, a human resource contact, Equal Employment Opportunity officer or a union representative. If your health service is part of the independent facilitator trial, you can contact the independent facilitator via the Better Safer Care website.

You can also seek support and advice from external organisations including:

  • Fair Work Commission
    A worker who reasonably believes that he or she has been bullied at work can apply to the Fair Work Commission for an order to stop the bullying. Visit the anti-bullying content on the Fair Work Commission website or call 1300 799 675.
  • Trade unions and industry associations
    Trade unions and industry associations can also provide advice on workplace bullying.
  • WorkSafe Victoria Advisory Service
    WorkSafe Victoria Advisory Service provides information on workplace bullying, including advice on how to raise the issue in your workplace or refer the matter to an inspector (where appropriate). Visit the Worksafe website or call 1800 136 089.
  • Harassment and discrimination support
    If you feel you have been sexually harassed, 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.
  • Lifeline
    Lifeline offers a 24-hour confidential phone service providing emotional support in times of crisis or when callers may be feeling down. Visit the Lifeline website or call 13 11 14.
  • Beyond Blue
    Beyond Blue provides people with access to information for depression and anxiety related matters. Visit the Beyond Blue website or call
    1300 224 636.
  • Victoria Police
    Matters involving allegations of assault or threats of assault, acts of violence, sexual assault, damage to property or stalking should be referred to Victoria Police. Contact your local station or call 000 if it is an emergency.
  • The Centre Against Sexual Assault
    The Centre Against Sexual Assault helps to ensure that people who experience sexual assault have access to support. They offer an after-hours crisis line and 15 local offices. Visit the Centre Against Sexual Assault website or call the Sexual Assault Crisis Line (Victoria) 1800 806 292.

What processes exist for responding to reports of bullying and harassment?

Workplaces must take reasonable steps to support employees through any allegations of bullying and harassment. Reviewing and acting on reports of bullying and harassment may involve either early intervention or a formal investigation. 

Early intervention usually suits situations where bullying or harassment may have just occurred, or has not escalated. It is a way of solving an issue without a formal report, investigation or discipline being taken against an individual. 

Early intervention can be achieved through an individual self-managing a situation or seeking help from someone else to raise the issue.

Where early intervention is not appropriate, a formal investigation may be conducted. Investigations may be undertaken by human resources professionals within the health service or external to the health service, dependent on the circumstances and availability of the necessary resources. The person investigating should be impartial and experienced. Supervisors should be provided with information and training about when it is appropriate to escalate an issue to a formal investigation.

WorkSafe Victoria’s guidance on bullying prevention and response provides a detailed overview of how reports are investigated. This can be found on the WorkSafe Victoria website.

For further information on harassment see the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission website.

What should I do if I see bullying or harassment at work?

There are several ways you can respond if you witness bullying, harassment or inappropriate behaviour, depending on how safe you feel to intervene.

Here are some suggestions:

 

  • Call out bad behaviour
    If you feel comfortable, say something to the person showing bad behaviour,or report the behaviour to your manager or your human resources contact. Make it clear that you won’t be involved in behaviour that bullies or harasses others.
  • Don’t join in
    Don’t encourage inappropriate behaviour by laughing along or giving silent approval as this makes the problem worse. Similarly, do not spread gossip about others verbally, on social media or via email.
  • Do something supportive
    Support the person who is experiencing behaviour that may be bullying or harassment. This could be something simple like asking if they are OK or offering them information on where to get support such as sharing with them the organisation's bullying and harassment policies.
  • Seek help

    If speaking up doesn’t resolve an issue, you may need to take further action.

    Suggest the person experiencing the bullying or harassment approach their manager, human resources contact, employee assistance program, union or professional association representative, WorkSafe Victoria’s advisory service or the Fair Work Commission.

  • Contact Victoria Police
    If workplace bullying or harassment involves assault or threats of assault, sexual assault, damage to property or stalking, you should contact Victoria Police.