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Workplace Bullying Procedure

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Section 1 - Preamble

(1) This Procedure was approved by the Vice-Chancellor on 23 December 2013 and came into effect on 1 January 2014. It incorporates all amendments to 22 July 2015.

(2) This Procedure is pursuant to the Workplace Bullying Policy.

(3) This Procedureincludes the following schedule:

  1. Schedule A: Workplace Bullying Complaint form
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Section 2 - Purpose

(4) To provide staff and associates of the University information to assist in the prevention, identification and management of workplace bullying and to set out the process to deal with behaviour which may constitute workplace bullying.

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Section 3 - Scope

(5) This Procedure applies to all staff and associates of the University.

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Section 4 - Policy

(6) Refer to the Workplace Bullying Policy.

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Section 5 - Procedure

Workplace bullying

(7) Examples of unreasonable behaviour include, but are not limited to:

  1. insulting or offensive language or comments
  2. unreasonable behaviours, including aggressive or intimidating body language
  3. unjustified criticism or complaints or the threat of complaints
  4. deliberately excluding someone from workplace activities without reasonable cause
  5. setting unreasonable or constantly changing deadlines
  6. setting tasks that are unreasonably beyond a person's skill level
  7. denying or withholding access to information, supervision or resources which causes detriment to the worker
  8. spreading misinformation or rumours
  9. changing work arrangements, such as rosters and leave, to deliberately inconvenience a particular worker or workers
  10. excessive scrutiny at work.

(8) Workplace bullying may occur between workers, between managers or supervisors and workers or from workers towards a manager or supervisor.

What is not workplace bullying?

(9) Reasonable management action, taken in a reasonable way is not workplace bullying.

(10) Examples of reasonable management action may include:

  1. undertaking performance review processes
  2. rostering and allocating working hours where the requirements are reasonable
  3. deciding not to select a worker for promotion
  4. informing a worker about unsatisfactory work performance or about inappropriate workplace behaviours
  5. implementing organisational changes
  6. terminating employment.

(11) Differences of opinion are part of working life and being dissatisfied or aggrieved by a management decision does not necessarily constitute workplace bullying.

Responsibilities of workers

(12) All workers must:

  1. take reasonable care for their own health and safety and that others
  2. behave in a accordance with the Code of Conduct
  3. not engage in workplace bullying
  4. identify and report workplace bullying in accordance with this Procedure.

Additional responsibilities of managers and supervisors

(13) Managers and supervisors of workers must:

  1. monitor, identify and take reasonable steps to prevent workplace bullying
  2. take reasonable steps to eliminate or reduce workplace bullying
  3. require workers to behave in a reasonable and fair manner
  4. provide leadership and role model appropriate behaviours in the workplace
  5. respond promptly and sensitively to situations in which workplace bullying is observed or reported, even in circumstances where the worker has chosen not to take action themselves.

Workplace bullying complaints

(14) Workers should seek advice if they believe they are experiencing, or are observing workplace bullying. Advice may be sought from a manager or supervisor, any member of the Health, Wellbeing and Safety or Workplace Relations teams in Human Resources Division or a Harassment and Discrimination Contact Officer. Further information is also contained in the Inappropriate Workplace Behaviours website.

(15) Individuals only can make complaints. No group complaints will be accepted.

(16) A complaint cannot be brought if any University process has already been used to deal with the same complaint or where the same fact circumstances have already been investigated.

(17) Where a worker's actions involve actual or threatened physical violence, the University may refer the matter to Deakin Security and/or to the police for action or take any other actions necessary to ensure the safety of individuals.

(18) A manager or supervisor may request an investigation where behaviours are observed or drawn to their attention, that, if proven may constitute workplace bullying. In these circumstances, a manager or supervisor is encouraged to seek advice from Human Resources Division.

(19) A worker may seek the assistance of a support person at any stage during this Procedure.

(20) The responsibilities of the Executive Director, Human Resources and the Vice-Chancellor in this Procedure may be performed by a nominee.

Informal resolution

(21) All reasonable attempts to resolve reports of workplace bullying should be made at the local and informal level, before proceeding to a formal complaint.

(22) The worker should attempt resolving the issue directly with the other party by talking or writing to the person in relation to their behaviour. This process may be assisted by any member of the Health, Wellbeing and Safety or Workplace Relations teams in Human Resources Division. Further information is also available on the Inappropriate Workplace Behaviours website.

(23) Where attempts to resolve the matter directly with the person concerned have not resolved, or it is not appropriate to attempt this stage, the worker, or their manager or supervisor, may refer their complaint to any member of the Health, Wellbeing and Safety or Workplace Relations teams in Human Resources Division.

(24) If a complaint is received by the University a meeting will be arranged with both parties who will be provided the opportunity to explain their views and attempt, wherever possible, to resolve the matter.

(25) Any resolution will be recorded in writing and provided to both the parties. Further information on possible resolutions are provided on the Inappropriate Workplace Behaviours website.

(26) If the matter is not resolved, the worker may make a formal complaint.

Formal complaints

(27) A formal complaint must be lodged with the Executive Director, Human Resources via a completed complaint form (at Schedule A) if:

  1. the complaint has not been resolved during the informal resolution stage; or
  2. the Executive Director, Human Resources determines that it is not appropriate to use the informal complaints process.

(28) The Executive Director, Human Resources will acknowledge receipt of the complaint.

(29) If the Executive Director, Human Resources determines that the behaviour complained of does not constitute workplace bullying he or she will advise the complainant of any alternative process to address the behaviour complained of, including determining whether the matter may constitute a possible breach of the Code of Conduct. If this occurs, this Procedure will cease to apply.

(30) If the Executive Director, Human Resources determines that the behaviour complained of may constitute workplace bullying, they will appoint a HRD Case Coordinator and advise the complainant in writing.

(31) At any stage a decision may be made by the Executive Director, Human Resources as to whether any interim arrangements need to be put in place to prevent any further risk to the health and wellbeing of any party involved. Such interim arrangements may include a change in a reporting line, an alternative work location or work arrangement.

(32) The HRD Case Coordinator will recommend to the Executive Director, Human Resources an investigator from the pool of available investigators to investigate the complaint.

(33) The HRD Case Coordinator will advise the complainant and the respondent of the investigator and confirm next steps, including possible investigation results and outcomes. The respondent/s will also be provided a copy of the complaint.

(34) Respondent/s are encouraged to seek advice and support from a member of the Health, Wellbeing and Safety or Workplace Relations teams in Human Resources Division.

(35) In conducting the investigation, the investigator will:

  1. treat matters seriously and confidentially
  2. investigate matters impartially and in a timely way
  3. identify and speak to relevant witnesses
  4. assess complaints on their merits and facts
  5. hear parties separately
  6. record the facts surrounding the matter and
  7. obtain any further information considered relevant.

(36) The investigator will provide to the Executive Director, Human Resources a confidential report, which will include:

  1. the allegations investigated
  2. the investigation process
  3. an outline of the relevant evidence
  4. findings, including:
    1. whether any/all of allegations were substantiated, in part or in full
    2. whether any substantiated allegation constitutes a breach of the Workplace Bullying Policy and/or this Procedure and/or the Code of Conduct;
    3. whether any/all of the allegations were vexatious and/or frivolous and should be dismissed; and
    4. any recommendations in relation to (i-iii above).

(37) The investigator's report will normally be provided to the Executive Director, Human Resources within 20 working days from the date the complaint is referred to the investigator, unless in exceptional circumstances, further time is required in which case the parties will be advised.

(38) The Executive Director, Human Resources will consider the investigator's report and make a recommendation to the Vice-Chancellor in relation to any further action that should be taken, including any recommendation to pursue disciplinary action in accordance with the Staff Discipline Policy.

(39) The Vice-Chancellor (or nominee) will consider the report made by the Executive Director, Human Resources and decide on any action to be taken.

(40) The Executive Director, Human Resources will advise the parties of the Vice-Chancellor (or nominee's) decision and will provide both parties with a confidential summary of the investigator's report.

(41) A confidential record of the matters will be retained by the University.


(42) The University will take reasonable steps to ensure that the complainant, respondent or other persons participating in the complaints process, are not victimised.

(43) If a person believes they are being victimised for having made a complaint, or participating in a complaints process, they should advise a manager or supervisor, a Harassment and Discrimination Contact Officer or any member of the Health, Wellbeing and Safety or Workplace Relations teams in Human Resources Division as soon as possible.


(44) The University acknowledges that experiencing or observing workplace bullying can be difficult and stressful and strongly encourages that the person/s seek any necessary support or assistance. Further information is available on the Inappropriate Workplace Behaviours website, including details for accessing the Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

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Section 6 - Definitions

(45) For the purpose of this Procedure:

  1. Associates: contractors, consultants, volunteers, visiting appointees and visitors to the University.
  2. Repeated behaviour: persistent nature of the behaviour and can involve a range of behaviours over time.
  3. Staff: a member of the academic or general staff, executive or honorary staff member.
  4. Unreasonable behaviour: behaviour that a reasonable person, having regard for the circumstances, would see as unreasonable, including behaviour that is victimising, humiliating, intimidating or threatening.
  5. Victimisation: any form of detriment directed at a person for alleging, making or participating in, supporting or resolving a complaint of workplace bullying; or a person associated with a person who alleges, makes or participates in, supports or resolves a complaint of workplace bullying.
  6. Workplace bullying: repeated, unreasonable behaviour directed towards a worker or a group of workers that creates a risk to health and safety.
  7. Worker: staff and associates.