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Teachers bullied by 'colleagues'

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

If you’re a teacher being bullied by HOD/ Principal/ colleague I think this may help you. It helped me a lot. I couldn’t understand why when I
was such a good teacher I was having such ridiculous, hurtful, nasty, petty, time wasting, health destroying problems at work.

Anyway here you are; this is why we get bullied:

Teacher bullies in schools “fear exposure of their perceived shortcomings, such as inadequacy and incompetence, and these people bully not
for fun but in order - they think - to survive. Competent colleagues fuel the bully's fear that shortcomings in their capabilities will surface, so they tend to select targets who fulfil some of the criteria below.

Being competent, that is being good at their job, often excelling; being willing to go the extra mile and expect others to do the same; being successful, tenacious, determined, courageous, having fortitude; being imaginative, creative, innovative; being able to master new skills;
thinking long term and seeing the bigger picture; being helpful, always willing to share knowledge and experience; being diligent and

Being Popular with colleagues, pupils, parents, Being regarded as an expert and the person to whom others come for advice, either personal or professional, having a sense of humour, including displays of quick-wittedness

Having strength of character displaying integrity, honesty,intelligence and intellect; having a well-defined set of values that they are unwilling to compromise; being trustworthy, trusting, conscientious, loyal and dependable; a sense of fairness: willingness to tackle injustice, low propensity to violence and strong forgiving streak, refusing to join an established clique; being sensitive, having empathy, concern for others, respect, tolerance, being slow to anger, showing independence of thought or deed, refusing to become a corporate clone and drone, having high coping skills under stress, especially when the injury to health becomes apparent

69 Replies 69

Has the concept of a "class action" against the NSW Dept of Education ever been discussed here ?

It seems as though there are plenty of "victims".

Everyone feels isolated, and that is how the "system" is designed, to beat people down.... but together, with strong legal representation, change may be forced.

The case would definitely gain mainstream media attention.

​I am sure a large legal firm would rub their hands together .......

Hey FF;

Your post has opened up a very important issue; Secret P-Files!

You don't need to use the FOI Act as working within a Govt dept you have the right to access all info about you and your employment. Going through HR and making a formal request to sight and copy P-File contents is common. Just make sure you don't go to the office to collect and sight it alone. Always take a witness.

I think you'll find it only contains info re industrial conditions like leave, employment docs and the like. But you may, as I did, find a morsel of emails providing much needed evidence.

The reality is, that managers keep 'private' files on staff that contain all their dealings with you. They'll use it willy-nilly to promote their innocence and your guilt. Most of it is subjective and damning to you, and it's full of their 'notes'. Those notes, because of their authority and signature, hold massive weight and will influence even the most senior of upper management or external services.

I tried for months to sight that file, and was constantly told it didn't exist. It's an illegal file, but they'll keep on ramming it with doc's. Please keep an organised system of your own evidence at home, because if you do go through legal channels, they can't use anything not on your HR P-File...if it doesn't exist, it can't be used right? Plus, if they do submit anything, you have a 'come-back' to support 'you'.

It's a complex issue and full of illegal acts from management to executive management. I've dealt with every level until I realised how futile it was. Please read this thread from top to bottom. There's heaps of info.

As for a class action, everyone would have to have gone thru the system first and won for it to work. As much as it sounds wonderful, the best for you right now is to take care of your family and you. Document 'everything', and I mean things you don't think are important. If it's on paper...keep it!

Most of all though, take care of your mental health. Pressure, stress and helplessness can cause debilitating symptoms that will affect every aspect of your life if you don't intervene early. Dissociate from the paperwork as if it's for someone else...a legal project.

I do wish you well in your endeavours. Stay in touch as I'm on here most days/nights to address any questions ok? Be kind, gentle and patient with yourself.

Warm thoughts...Sara

Are NSW public schools covered by the National Anti bullying laws ?

ie can I apply for an application to stop bullying through Fair Work Australia ?

Hi FF;

I'm glad you're back and asking questions.

The reality of your situation is that most of the legwork will continually be put back onto you. So learning everything you can is the only way to approach things. Who you direct your complaint to, depends on your specifics. Anti discrimination, W/C or Fairwork will all require evidence of a high calibre.

Your Union, I'm assuming the PSA, will have Anti Bullying info, though they just don't have the staff or pull they used to. Depending on the details of the bullying you've experienced, the PSA will only put energy towards someone who's been affected by industrial action. For instance, being placed on probation, loss of wages etc; some type of punishment.

It doesn't matter where you go, the reality is; no evidence, no case to answer to. It takes a good dose of critical analysis, organisation of doc's and will, to take your dept into a court or tribunal. If you've made a complaint internally, they're supposed to report this to their internal investigation unit and leave it with them. If they go thru HR, they'll most likely draw it out and eventually say there's no evidence to support your complaint. Appealing this is futile.

It's pointless trying to get one person to be accountable. The dept (as a whole) has a duty of care to provide you with a safe and bully free workplace. This way, even if the offending person leaves, there is still accountability.

If you write a report addressing incidences and refer each item of contention to corresponding doc's, including medical/psychological reports, (a time-line) you can develop a very powerful document. Include breaches of legislative and policy requirements, especially the code of conduct (version at the time of the incidence/s) because at the end of the day, without this, the back and forth crap will continue.

All I can say, is do your research. And remember, one sentence within a statement for instance can be a nail in their coffin. Many nails will enforce your case. Read and re read absolutely everything.

I wish you well my friend, this isn't for the faint hearted. It will test you time and again.

Sara xo

Well I have lost faith in the union.....

They advised me to follow directives which were issued by the Dept.

These directives were based on false allegations made against myself. Some of them criminal in nature ie intimidating , threatening a female staff member.

I am able to prove, with evidence that they are unfounded and not true.

The Union are happy to let the bullying occur it seems.

Not much point in being a member ? I rang them 4 times in 4 consecutive days......always got the promise, your case officer will ring you back......Not one call back.....

Just an email offering zero support.


The moral to your story FF, is trust no-one and don't sweat the small stuff. Unions have become so fraught with the same apathy and short staffed mentality of govt sector employee's, it's no wonder because their power has nearly been legislated out of existence.

My advice? Use them or anyone who can give you the fire power necessary to blow them out of the water. Please stop 'needing' people to do what you have the ability to do for yourself. (As long as you still have the mental capacity to achieve this)

You seem a very competent and intelligent person, who one day may be able to create the very organisation these insidious bully boy tactics sorely need..an advocacy service for bullied employee's. It was a goal of mine a while ago, but unfortunately my coping mechanisms were smashed to pieces by the same system I relied on for help. I was also going to write a series of books on the subject, but PTSD symptoms have claimed me as another victim.

I reiterate with compassion: you are alone on the front-line. I'm here for moral support and any info I can afford you from my arsenal of experience. What you seek is within you; courage, commitment and anger. Use these qualities to push your case, or walk away with dignity knowing this huge monstrous culture has taken many victims before you. It isn't shameful or a flaw in your character to do so ok?

Warm thoughts...Sara (hugs)

The recent event that has forced me out of my school of 14 years was a series of 11 allegations by the Principal.

These were sent to EPAC, therefore they were published. They resulted in me being provided alternative duties until the investigation is carried out. Apparently there is no time line for the investigation to occur.....it can for months. Obviously a form of mental disintegration..... I have suffered "Damages" as a result of these allegations.

The allegations have damaged by character and reputation to the point I am not allowed in my school.

All allegations are unfounded, not true. Some are blatant lies others have had the context distorted and have been altered to suit his agenda.

However there are some that I can prove 100% are false and defamatory.

Does anyone know anything about the possibility of commencing a civil action against the Principal ? ie Defamation of Character.

Entering the staff rooms of other faculties without permission to take photographs and go through material that belongs to others

Recording of conversations with colleagues without their permission

Your refusal to provide your WorkCover certificate or medical certificate when directed.

The above are three examples of allegations he made against me that he could not prove are true.Not if his life depended on it.

How do you prove someone made a recording ? If I did, I would be the only one that had it. I have not shared any content with anyone......impossible for him to prove.... I did not record anyone without their permission

In two years this Principal has made between 25-30 allegations against myself. He seemingly makes allegations at will. We know the Department's system protects him.......What about another system ?

Perhaps the concept of having a civil action upon him may force him to reassess his allegations ?

Thoughts ?

Hey again Front Foot;

These 3 allegations are easy to defend; ask the person who's carrying out the investigation (they should've already sent you an email identifying themselves, what they're doing and to keep everything confidential) to send you a copy of the complaint, or at least a summery of the complaint/s, 'in writing' then give them a time frame to deliver. 'Do not call or accept anything verbal, and don't go to meetings without a witness!'

Tell them you have a right to know so you can defend yourself adequately. Also tell them, it's up to the complainant to supply evidence to support their allegations, if they don't have any, you'll be taking it to the Internal Investigation office or the Director General's claiming unethical conduct causing ill health and damage to your reputation etc. Considering these allegations aren't true, there won't be evidence and the case should be dropped. That's when you move legally if you want.

As for a civil case against one individual, it's risky, costly and won't get past the solicitors door without a solid case, so you'd be better off building a case around 'their' (plural) conduct over these months. Every time they slip up, your evidence grows. Continue to send emails and letters. Keep everything! Make sure they respond, if they don't, continue badgering them. Please don't write too much, keep it short and to the point. If you don't get answers you want or are untrue, continue sending emails questioning their motives, honesty and intent.

Most of all though, don't think of yourself as a victim. The Principal is breaching the Code of Conduct, and it doesn't matter what their pay-grade, you have exactly the same rights as them, only they have further to fall.

Become pro active and start putting the pressure on the dept. I can't stress enough, to take care of your mental health; this is essential. Always scan certificates and send, as well as hard copies over the counter.

Any internal 'movement variation' is serious industrial action. Your Union 'must' act on your behalf! Get onto them and read them the riot act!

It's hard work FF, please take care.


I informed the union on Friday of the seriousness of the matter, my expectations of them and there shortcomings so far....

Things changed....

The case manager who gave the advice to follow their directives was now going back to consult her supervisor, apparently ringing me tomorrow with more info.

The Union seem to like floating the line.....

Allegations have been made, until they are investigated they are within their right to move you.

The investigation can take as long as they like.....until then you will have to perform Alternative Duties.

They tried to place me 2 hours from home, Single father....4 kids....youngest 21 months.

There is an education office 10 minutes from home. I asked the Union why they didn't place me there....?

The Union were going to ask that I be placed there until the investigation takes place. Far from ideal, because I should be teaching......but not life changing....... Probably easier than teaching.

However, that still does not seem right if the allegations are false and easily refuted.

Obviously the Principal has the support of the Director.....and he has the support of .... well higher up......

I doubt "Higher Up" know the truth of the matter though......Higher up would only know what they told him.

I note your comment regarding serious industrial matter......Any advice on what to demand from the Union ?

Yes...that they act on your behalf. That means emails and/or letters will be done by PSA and CC'd to you. The Education Office is a 'reasonable' choice considering your family circumstances. Your length of service should be taken into account as well, not to mention allegations are hearsay. There's also the fact it doesn't include kids. Hopefully your Union Rep will be assertive and knowledgeable. Mine was a twit! Best of luck there. If you're not happy with their representation, speak up.

To be honest FF, these allegations sound really dubious. Running people into the ground emotionally and mentally is an all too frequent tactic. Do you know the section running the investigation? If so, you could send them an email asking for advice and info; sickly sweet. It's a ploy of course, but one I know well. When I did this, they didn't know a thing. It was all concocted by upper management to intimidate. Make sure you (respectfully) request a written or emailed response.

In my opinion, these trumped up allegations are an effort to undermine you - a 'personal' attack by the Principal. Let's face it, anyone can say anything. You of course have the right to complain you've been targeted too and submit your own formal grievance. It may work, it may not. But it'll let them know you mean business. In the event theirs is heard first and you come out on top, this leaves the Principal wide open for investigation and disciplinary action.

CC the Union with everything. Management hate this, but have to abide.

Btw, has anyone else been targeted by this b*****d? If they have, a formal grievance by all involved (they'll have to be done separately) will really put the wind up them. Your case will have much more merit, and any attempt by investigators to draw things out (time wise) could be seen as collusion.

And 'never' do a phone interview!! Always request face to face and take your Union rep and a recording device with you.

I wish you luck my friend...