26 September 2023

Podcast tells all on PS workplace bullying

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The Institute of Public Administration Australia South Australia (IPAA SA) has held a special podcast episode to delve into recognising and preventing workplace bullying and harassment as far as the Public Service is concerned.

Announcing the podcast, IPAA SA said the special episode of Work with Purpose – A National Perspective, explored topics including the DNA of a healthy workplace culture, Bullying and harassment in the Public Sector, Approaches to tackling workplace bullying and The importance of transparency.

IPAA SA said the discussion was led by guest host, Deputy Secretary of Business Enabling Services at the Australian Department of Finance and Councillor of IPAA ACT, Clare Walsh.

It said Ms Walsh was joined by Victorian Public Sector Commissioner, Adam Fennessy; Vice-Chancellor and President at Charles Sturt University Bathurst, Renée Leon; and President of IPAA National, Gordon de Brouwer.

“While the majority of Public Servants behave respectfully and civilly to their colleagues, employee surveys from across the country repeatedly show that bullying and harassment – behaviours that can weaken institutions, undermine productivity and innovation and poison workplace culture – are still significant issues,” IPAA SA said.

It said the premise of the podcast discussion was based on a 2021 paper written by Dr de Brouwer, Bullying and Harassment in the Public Sector in Australia: Practical Ways to Lift Respect in Public Service Workplaces.

In the podcast, Dr de Brouwer said bullying was present in almost every jurisdiction in all its forms, from yelling to exclusion and persistent and systematic bullying which could destroy organisations.

He said that while every jurisdiction took bullying seriously, there was room for improvement.

“When people try, they have to do it systematically and consistently across the whole organisation, including at the very top,” Dr de Brouwer said.

“There’s been a reluctance to do that because that requires admitting there’s a problem in our systems and it’s a bit like showing your dirty laundry to people,” he said.

The podcast, A National Perspective – EP#6: What are we doing about bullying and harassment? can be accessed at this PS News link and Dr de Brouwer’s 14-page paper at this link.

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