Page 3934 - Week 13 - Tuesday, 29 October 2013

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But what we are seeing emerge is a systemic pattern. We saw it in Health. We have seen it in the CIT. Now we are seeing it in Disability. When we said that there was a concern in Health, that was denied by this government, denied by the minister. The report that was produced proved that what we had said was correct. When the concerns were raised about CIT, again it was somewhat dismissed by the government. But we have seen that reports and concerns that we raised were proved correct. Now we have the same situation emerging in Disability.

What I do not want to see from this government is a repeated pattern of behaviour—when concerns are raised, when these issues emerge, a pattern from this government which is about denial, cover-up and attack on those raising the claims. Let us learn from the mistakes. Let us make sure this government learns from the mistakes they made in Health and the mistakes they made in education about CIT. Let us make sure that these claims have some veracity, that they are dealt with appropriately and not dealt with by denial, cover-up and excuses.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (4.13): I thank Mr Doszpot for raising the matter of bullying in the ACT public service. Workplace bullying is an important issue for the health and wellbeing of workers. It has a major impact on people’s lives and health. Bullied workers can suffer from physiological, psychological and social trauma.

These issues obviously damage a workplace, and lead to economic impacts such as lost productivity. The Australian Human Rights Commission has estimated that the annual financial cost of workplace bullying could be as high as $36 billion every year. The Victorian WorkSafe authority has estimated that bullying costs businesses more than $57 million a year in Victoria alone.

Bullying, of course, is not a matter that is restricted to the ACT public service. It unfortunately occurs across all sectors of the workforce. Research conducted by Australian-based health psychologist Toni Mellington found that as many as 70 per cent of employees were either currently being bullied or had been bullied at some time in the past.

Statistics that were tabled in 2012 in the Assembly show that across the private sector in the ACT from 2008-09 to 2010-11, there were 3,374 reported incidents of assault, bullying and harassment. Some of the sectors with higher incidences of reporting were clerical, educators, health professionals and social workers. In the same period, there were 3,113 reported incidents in the ACT public sector. The Education and Training Directorate and Health Directorate had the most incidents.

These statistics include both bullying and harassment as well as occupational violence and assaults. There is a difference, of course. Bullying involves repeated or systemic behaviour over a period of time, usually conducted by work colleagues. Occupational violence includes one-off instances and can be conducted by work colleagues or by others, including members of the public. Although occupational violence or assaults can be thought of as a physical issue, they are actually closely linked with mental health issues. They are frequently the cause of stress and anxiety and they are a factor that can lead to the onset of major depression.

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