Being accused of bullying

If you are accused of bullying, learn about the signs of bullying and what you can do.

Signs you might be bullying others

Even though your behaviour may seem innocent to you, it is important to consider its effect on others.

Some signs you might be bullying others include if you:

  • place undue pressure on others to produce results
  • change job descriptions, goals or guidelines without explanation
  • remove someone's responsibility unfairly or without explanation
  • criticise or reprimand others publicly instead of counselling them in private
  • exclude people from relevant meetings and other information
  • use unfair techniques to influence others
  • abuse your authority to get what you want
  • assign menial or meaningless tasks to people you dislike.

These examples are from the State Services Authority, now the Victorian Public Sector Commission, Victoria, 2010).

What to do if you are accused of bullying

  • Listen carefully to the complaint. Seek clarification about what aspects of your behaviour are considered unacceptable. If needed, ask for a break or time to consider your response. Apologise for any offence that may have been caused and discuss how you might work together more effectively.
  • Do not victimise the complainant or anyone who has supported the complainant and given evidence. Victimisation is likely to lead to disciplinary action.
  • Check Charles Sturt University's Harassment and Bullying Prevention Policy and Guidelines to determine if your behaviour can be considered to be bullying.
  • If you do not understand the complaint, discuss it confidentially with someone you trust, such as friends, peers, manager or Employee Assistance Program counsellor (staff) or Student Counsellor (students).
  • Stop the behaviour and review what you are doing.
  • If you feel that you are being unjustly accused and/or that the allegation is false and malicious, contact the Division of Human Resources (staff and students) or the relevant Course Director, Head of School or Faculty Executive Officer (students) for advice.

Formal complaints

  • If a formal complaint is made against you, you will have the right to be informed of the allegations, to respond to them, and to have a support person accompany you to meetings. Gather evidence in your defence, including witnesses.
  • If the complaint is upheld, then disciplinary action will be taken.
  • If the complaint is not upheld, and the University believes that it was not made in good faith, then disciplinary action will be taken against the person making the false complaint. The Division of Human Resources (staff and students) or Head of School (students) will also support arrangements for the resumption of a harmonious work/study environment.

Consequences

Bullying and harassment breach CSU's standards of behaviour, as outlined in the Code of Conduct.

Staff

Depending on the severity of the breach, the following sanctions may be imposed on staff:

  • counselling
  • formal censure
  • withholding of a salary step
  • demotion by one or more salary steps
  • demotion by one or more classification levels or termination of employment
  • civil action and/or reporting of the breach to the police or any other appropriate authority external to CSU.

Students

The following sanctions may be imposed upon a student who is declared guilty of misconduct:

  • caution or reprimand the student
  • require the student to pay for damage and/or expense caused by the misconduct
  • impose a fine and the conditions of payment of the fine on the student
  • suspend the student from the use of any specific facility, or the right to enter any specific building or area of land of the University or any specific part thereof
  • suspend the student from the University for a specified period not exceeding one calendar year
  • expel the student from the University for at least 2 years.