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String of suicides spark workplace review into St John Ambulance

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HC Online | 06 Nov 2015, 12:00 AM Agree 0
Allegations of bullying and a fear of speaking out among St John Ambulance employees have been linked to a series of employee suicides, prompting a number of reviews into the organisation.
  • Bernie Althofer | 06 Nov 2015, 11:58 AM Agree 0
    Over the past few years, Australia has seen a number of reviews conducted into various organisations where allegations of bullying have been occurring. It seems that organisations still need systems and processes in place to identify those review reports, and then conduct a risk assessment to determine the potential for similar incidents to occur in their own organisation.

    It also seems that organisations do conduct 'staff satisfaction surveys' and the like, and in some cases the findings or recommendations are implemented. However, in some organisations, the surveys are conducted on a regular basis with no apparent implementation or change occurring.

    As indicated in other discussion groups, just because the executives do not have data on the incidence of bullying, it does not mean that it is not occurring. In some cases, the processes for reporting and resolving incidents take considerable, put additional pressure on the target, or the culture is such that speaking up, results in additional intimidation, threats or harassment. Bullying risk assessments can help to identify signify gaps between how the executive and senior management perceive the workplace, and how workers in general perceive the same workplace. Internal reviews seem at times to carry issues of conflict with some targets believing that if they identify bullying or any related issues, the information will be used against them.

    If targets see that they are getting proactive support before, during and after an incident, they may be more likely to come forward. If they perceive that the alleged bully is 'rewarded' or that 'bullying' behaviours are found to be reasonable management actions, they may form a view that it is not worth the additional stress of speaking up.

    One always hopes that when any review is conducted, the findings and recommendations are seriously considered by the executive, and implemented. However, some reviews do take some time for various reasons, so some targets may end up believing that a 'whitewash' is happening. Some targets will want to know what is happening and responses may only add to their concerns. Getting targets to be involved in reviews is difficult when there is a power imbalance; when the organisational systems and processes appear weighted against them .e.g. career limitiing move; or when their concerns are dismissed.

    Asking the right questions and knowing what the right questions to ask is always difficult. In some cases, asking the right question only appears as a threat to the target so they may be reluctant to respond.
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