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WorkCover Tasmania launches workplace bullying research

TODAY  WorkCover Tasmania launched a research project to understand workplace bullying in Tasmania.

WorkCover board member Kevin Harkins said the research would look at both individual and organisations’ perceptions and experience with bullying, which would inform strategies to reduce the impact of workplace bullying.

“While much research has been done into workplace bullying on a national and international level, there is little Tasmanian data, which is where the new Bullying Project research program comes into play,” Mr Harkins said.

The first stage of the research is a statewide telephone survey of the community followed by in-depth interviews with respondents who’ve experienced or witnessed what they think is workplace bullying in the past six months. The third stage is a survey of Tasmanian organisations looking at how they’ve dealt with bullying, relevant policies and procedures and the impact of bullying in the workplace.

Mr Harkins said bullying had a negative impact on the health and wellbeing of the targeted individuals and could result in depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances, headaches, lowered self-esteem and even suicidal thoughts.

“The negative impacts often also extend to families, with the individual withdrawing or taking out their anger and frustration at home. “Time off work is often then required to treat the physical and psychological effects of bullying, or the person leaves their job, which may add financial pressure to the family, further compounding an already difficult situation.”

Research findings will provide the basis for a comprehensive strategy to combat bullying and its effects on workplaces and individuals in Tasmania.

“The Tasmanian Workplace Bullying Strategy will look at defining exactly what workplace bullying is, identifying initiatives to raise awareness that inappropriate behaviour will not be tolerated, developing management systems and building organisational capacity,” Mr Harkins said.

“On an individual level, the strategy will also look at early intervention methods, support mechanisms and quality information for individuals, as well as ensuring external intervention is readily available to resolve issues of bullying.”

The Workplace Bullying Project Team consists of representatives from the WorkCover Tasmania Board, Workplace Standards and the Office of the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner.

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