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Abstract

Bullying Is Not Tolerated Here: We Have Policies and Procedures Which Protect Staff. An Auto-Ethnography of Frustration

Author(s): Margaret Sims

This paper holds to account the ideas legitimising staff management practices currently experienced in my workplace, a university, as bullying. Making these practices visible, and locating them in theories allows movement beyond current understandings of reality and points “to new ways of thinking and action about freedom, civic courage, social responsibility, and justice” [1]. Whilst this is titled a story of frustration I aim at a position of hope using auto-ethnography to reflect on my experiences as a volunteer case worker for the staff union (National Tertiary Education Union - NTEU). I have supported staff complaining of bullying in the workplace and have struggled to achieve fair and equitable outcomes. I have witnessed hard working, valued colleagues becoming disenchanted, disengaged, and resigning. Accepting this without attempting to drive change is unacceptable, thus this study was born. I locate this work in literature related to workplace bullying and the Australian higher education context. I explore my reflections, examining how these link to, and extend understandings of theory. Finally I explain why I think workplace bullying needs redefinition in order for us to enliven democracy as a way of life for those of us working in the university context.
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