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Issue No. 196 19 September 2003  
E D I T O R I A L

A Secret Country
So Tony Abbott has tabled his legislation to crush the CFMEU, while refusing to release the secret volume of the Royal Commission on which the recommendations are based.

F E A T U R E S

Interview: Crowded Lives
Labor frontbencher Lindsay Tanner talks us through his new book on the importance of relationships and why politics is letting the people down.

Activists: Life With Brian
Work by men like Brian Fitzpatrick is exposing new Australians to old truths. Jim Marr reports

Industrial: National Focus
A showdown looms in Cancun, Qantas gets bolshie, casual and lazy in its response to aviation challenges, and long festering disputes fester on in Victoria and Tasmania reports Noel Hester in this national wrap.

Unions: If These Walls Could Talk
Trades Hall is preparing for a major facelift but first, Jim Marr reports, it must bid farewell to the colourful bunch who have populated its dusty corridors in recent years.

Economics: Beating the Bastards
Frank Stilwell looks at some of the proposals for building a fairer finance sector.

Media: Three Corners
So its come to this. Four Corners, one of the world's longest running television programs is now under pressure from an ABC Executive that is less cultural visionary than feral abacus.

History: The Brisbane Line
Percy Spender was Menzies' foreign minister, but, Neale Towart asks, was he also prepared to serve as Prime Minister in a Japanese controlled Australia?

Trade: The Dumping Problem
Oxfam-CAA helps set the scene for this month's World Trade Organisation in Cancun.

Review: Frankie's Way
In The Night We Called It A Day Frank Sinatra learns 'sorry' Down Under is a loaded word and refusal to say it when due will lose fans in important places, writes Tara de Boehmler.

N E W S

 Cole Skeletons Shake Monk

 Abbott Flags Move On Nurses

 Workplace Bullies Leave Three Dead

 People’s Bank Scraps People

 Left-Right Combo Drops Motorway Boss

 Free Wally - Movie Offer

 Detention for Minister Who Praised Scabs

 Cancun Flop Spurs Local Stars

 Public Sector: Cuts and Thrusts

 Medicare Cuts Take Cake

 Beating Around The Bush

 Other Half Lives It Up

 Anderson Ducks Mudgee Bill

 Deaf, Blind and Looking For Friends

 Filipino Vote Call

 Activists Notebook

C O L U M N S

The Soapbox
Staking Our Territory
ACTU secretary Greg Combet argued for a fairer Australia in his keynote address to last month's ACTU Congress.

The Locker Room
Seasonally Agisted
Spring is a season when a person’s thoughts turn to…horse racing. Phil Doyle reports on the fate of nags and folk heroes.

Housing
Beyond the Block
We are wild about the people who live in The Block but not too interested in those who are on the streets outside, writes Michael Rafferty.

Politics
The Westie Wing
Workers friend Ian West MLC, reports form the Bearpit about a project to raise awareness about trade unionism amongst young people.

Postcard
The Awkward Squad
Paul Smith meets one of the new generation of British union leaders who is taking the ball up to the Blair spin team.

L E T T E R S
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WHAT YOU CAN DO
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News

Workplace Bullies Leave Three Dead


Workplace bullying has claimed three lives in the past twelve months, according to a Victorian psychologist with 25 years of experience.

Psychologist Meddwyn Coleman told a forum organised by the Bendigo Trades Hall Council on September 17 that workplace bullying lay behind the suicide deaths of three Victorian workers.

Victims of bullying in NSW have also said that they too would have taken their lives had they not found support and assistance.

The recent Public Service Association of New South Wales Women's Conference also addressed the issue, with the PSA now conducting training sessions on bullying, which is increasingly recognised as a big OHS problem.

"These training sessions are booked out within days of getting up,' says Jo Tilly, Women's Industrial Officer with the PSA. "Bullying has become one of the biggest OHS issues in the workplace."

A survey of PSA members in 2000 revealed that bullying had a substantial impact on people's lives.

Psychologist Meddwyn Coleman told a forum organised by the Bendigo Trades Hall Council on September 17 that bullying was the deliberate psychological, emotional or physical harassment of an individual.

Coleman, with 25 years experience in counselling victims, outlined the tragic consequences of bullying.

For the first time in 25 years she is starting to see suicides that are related to workplace bullying.

In one instance an apprentice became seriously depressed following repeated 'hazing' or initiation rituals that made him look like an idiot and set him up to fail. Eventually he took his own life. The tragedy was compounded when his sister also took her life because of his death.

On top of suicides related to bullying lives have also been shattered.

Joy, a Victorian nurse, was bullied to the point that she suffered from depression. Bullying eventually stopped her from leaving her home, filing a legitimate WorkCover claim for an injured back and even saw her forced to do personal work such as sewing for her antagonist. Joy was isolated from other workers who were "turned against her" by the bully - a supervisor in a health related field. Even after five years she cannot visit the town where she worked and experienced bullying.

Joy is now recovering from her ordeal but still finds the experience difficult.

"I was used and abused,' says Joy. "It's unbelievable what people are like."

Peggy Johnson from the Lidcombe Workers' Health Centre told Workers Online that seven years ago the centre received about one call a month on this issue, now they were receiving one or two calls a week.

The Lidcombe Workers' Health Centre has started an eight-week pilot Bullying Support Group program to help people deal with this dangerous workplace hazard.

"All the people I have seen are invariably relieved that they have found a person who believes or listens to them." Says Johnson.

"It's not as clear cut as other issues,' says Jo Tilly from the PSA, who pointed out that bullying wasn't always an 'obvious' problem.

Coleman said that while bullying was not always just a "top-down" phenomenon it had increased with the embracing of "economic rationalism as the dominant ideology".

Bullying can have terrible consequences for the victims, who may blame themselves, when the real problem lies with the Bully.

"The root of bullying behaviour is often insecurity and personal envy of the targeted victim," Coleman told the Bendigo Trades Hall Forum. Coleman advised bullying victims to not try to cope with the situation alone.

The NSW Labour Council is working towards developing a campaign to address the issue of bullying in the workplace.

A number of people working to address bullying stated that lack of job security, competition for dwindling positions and unrealistic workloads that accompanied job cutbacks appeared to exacerbate bullying in the workplace.

If you or someone you know is considering or affected by suicide please call Lifeline on 13 11 14


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