DEFINING what constitutes bullying is one of the key recommendations of a parliamentary inquiry into stopping it in Australian workplaces.
An inquiry into workplace bullying was called in May, culminating in the report Workplace Bullying: We Just Want It To Stop, which was released in Canberra on Monday.
The report was compiled by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education and Employment, which received more than 300 written submissions, mostly from individuals who have experienced bullying first-hand.
Other than defining what bullying is and is not, recommendations include:
- Promoting and strengthening existing legislative and regulatory frameworks.
- Improving workplace cultures.
- Enhancing tools for the prevention and early resolution of workplace bullying incidences.
The committee also heard from organisations about the enormous human toll that workplace bullying takes.
The Productivity Commission has found workplace bullying costs the Australian economy between $6 billion and $36 billion annually.
Committee chair Amanda Rishworth said workplace bullying occurs across all sectors and industries.
"Workplace bullying is happening far too frequently in Australian workplaces," she said.
"We started this inquiry with a focus on examining whether we should introduce a national equivalent of Brodie's Law. We discovered throughout the inquiry that prevention and early intervention is critical.
"A chief concern of witnesses was the lack of clarity about what to do and where to go for help. That is why we recommend, in consultation with stakeholders, that the Commonwealth government establish a new national advisory service to provide advice, assistance and resolution services to employers and workers alike.
"We hope that this report forms part of the national conversation we need to have on this topic and offers ways for moving forward."
Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten said the report was an important first step in starting that conversation.
"Bullying and harassment have no place in any Australian workplace," he said.
"We will consider the recommendations in detail. We welcome the recommendation to adopt a definition of what constitutes bullying."
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