Our research has revealed that risk factors for bullying exist at many levels, and claims arise for numerous reasons, not just due to bullying behaviour. Psychosocial safety climate acts as a leading indicator and also buffers the impact of bullying on worker wellbeing. Ongoing surveillance allows for identifying groups at risk, which can guide policy at the state and federal levels, and can be used to examine the effectiveness of interventions. Ongoing data collection is essential to monitor changes and trends over time and to provide longitudinal data which will elucidate the existence of causal factors contributing to workplace bullying in Australia.
There is a lack of prevalence data on rates of bullying at work in Australia. Surveillance of working conditions, such as psychosocial risk factors like bullying and harassment, can assist with:
Gauging the frequency and impact of the issue
Identifying groups at risk
Better understanding of casual factors that can direct policy development
Evaluating effectiveness of prevention and intervention strategies
A precise definition of bullying was used, which required repeated offensive behaviour to the participant over a period of time. Results from a subset of Australian Workplace Barometer data including 3153 participants found:
6.8% of respondents experienced bullying in the last six months
3.5% experienced bullying for longer than a 6 month period
Females reported significantly higher levels of bullying
Females also report experiencing bullying for significantly longer periods of time
These rates are high based on international comparisons that show when the aforementioned definition of bullying is provided it tends to result in rates between 1 to 4%. Hence, Australian workers may be at greater risk of workplace bullying than workers in other countries.