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The Fair Work Commission (FWC) will start hearing bullying claims in January 2014 under legislation that passed federal parliament last week.

The Fair Work Amendment Bill 2013 passed both houses of parliament last Thursday evening and was assented to on Friday.

From January, any worker employed in a constitutionally covered business will be able to apply to the FWC for an order to stop bullying.

The FWC will be able to issue any order it considers appropriate other than the payment of money.

For more details, visit the legislation and last fortnight’s Safe-T-Bulletin.

The New South Wales authority charged with preventing bullying in the workplace is now the focus of an inquiry into allegations of bullying among its ranks.

Last week, the NSW Upper House agreed to an inquiry into allegations of bullying at WorkCover NSW.

The inquiry follows a motion put to the Upper House by Greens MP David Shoebridge.

The motion referred to a recent case before the NSW Industrial Relations Commission, which found that WorkCover had bullied one of its employees out of his job, and to previous investigations into WorkCover’s conduct.

In the case referred to in the motion, NSW Industrial Relations Commission deputy president Rodney W Harrison said in his ruling: “I find this conduct by the organisation [WorkCover] to be shabby and disgraceful. It lacks any objectivity and has the characterisation of institutional bullying.”

The motion recommended that the Upper House General Purpose Standing Committee No. 1 inquire into the culture of WorkCover, WorkCover’s role as State Regulator of workplace bullying, recommendations to address issues raised, and any other related matters.

The motion was carried.

Submissions to the inquiry close on 23 August 2013.

For more details, visit the NSW Parliament, the Case and The Greens.

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) won’t start hearing bullying claims until January 2014, under legislation currently before federal parliament.

The federal government amended the Fair Work Amendment Bill 2013 two weeks ago to change the start date from July to January.

The bill has passed the House of Representatives and is now in the Senate.

If the bill passes both houses of parliament, from January workers in constitutionally covered businesses will be able to apply to the FWC for an order to stop bullying.

The FWC will be able to issue any order it considers appropriate, other than the payment of money.

For more details, visit the bill.

Abuse allegations in the Australian Army are under investigation and have led to a strong show of leadership from the army’s top brass.

The Chief of Army, Lieutenant General David Morrison, said in a media statement last week that investigations are underway into the alleged production and distribution of “highly inappropriate material demeaning women, across both Defence computer systems and the public internet”.

“Every person in the Australian Defence Force deserves the right to serve without any kind of physical, mental and sexual abuse and I will defend their right to do so in a fair, just and inclusive workplace,” he said.

He pointed to a systemic problem within Defence. “In the wake of the ADFA (Australian Defence Force Academy) ‘Skype’ case, and the series of inquiries and reviews into various aspects of the ADF culture and military justice over the last 20 years, the leadership of the ADF no longer accepts the ‘bad apple’ argument when one of these incidents occurs,” he says.

“These behaviours are symptoms of a systemic problem and we will continue to address them in a comprehensive manner, through Defence’s Pathway to Change strategy.”

He said three members of the Australian Army have been suspended in response to the allegations, and other suspensions will be considered, pending civilian police and Defence investigations into the behaviour.

Meanwhile, Brian Briggs, head of Slater & Gordon’s military compensation group, said in a media statement that a systemic culture of abuse has existed in the military for years.

“I’ve spoken to dozens of female defence clients who left the forces because of instances of sexual harassment, discrimination and abuse, even as recently as this month.”

He is concerned that the current incident involves high-ranking officers.

“No person, woman or man, should tolerate any form of abuse, nor should it be tolerated,” he says.

“This is important for not only our defence force, but for the wider community.”

For more details, visit Defence and Slater and Gordon.


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