Anti-Bullying & Occupational Violence Policy


Next review
Fri, 12 February 2027

This policy is designed to ensure that all employees understand what will be regarded as bullying and occupational violence, how complaints can be made and how claims will be treated by ECA.

Approved on: 12 Feb 2024
Review cycle: 3 Years
Owned by


Approved by

College Board

Policy Contact: 
Chief Operations Officer

Eastern College Australia (ECA) is committed to providing a workplace which is free from bullying, harassment and unlawful discrimination. ECA aims to ensure all those participating in the workplace are treated with respect, dignity and fairness with an aim of creating an environment which promotes positive working relationships. ECA considers bullying and occupational violence to be unacceptable forms of behaviour and it will not tolerate them under any circumstances.

Under state work health and safety legislation including the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic) and the Fair Work Act 2009. ECA has a responsibility and a duty of care to do everything possible to eliminate or reduce risks to worker’s health and safety and to provide a safe workplace. This extends to ensuring that workers are not subject to bullying, discrimination and /or other anti-social behaviours and that appropriate action is taken promptly to prevent re-occurrence of such behaviours.


This policy is designed to ensure that all employees understand what will be regarded as bullying and occupational violence, how complaints can be made and how claims will be treated by ECA.


This policy applies College-wide.

This policy is not limited to the workplace or working hours, and will include all work-related events which includes, but is not limited to: lunches, client and social functions, meetings, conference and Christmas parties.

This policy also relates to, but is not limited by the following types of communication:

  • Verbal communication either over the telephone or in person in the workplace, and outside of it;
  • Written communication including; letters, notes, minutes of meetings etc.;
  • Internal and external electronic communication including but not limited to:
    • Email;
    • Instant messaging services;
    • Internal intranet;
    • Social media and networking forums including; Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other forms of social media; and
    • Communications via text message.

Bullying - is repeated, unreasonable behaviour directed towards a person or group of persons. It includes behaviour that could be expected to intimidate, offend, degrade, humiliate, undermine or threaten. Bullying can occur at any level of the organisation, can be experienced by both men and women and may involve a co-worker, a volunteer, supervisor, manager, student, service provider, user or customer.

Repeated behaviour - refers to the nature of the behaviour, not the specific form of that behaviour. “Repeated unreasonable behaviour” may thus be a pattern of diverse incidents.

Unreasonable behaviour - is behaviour that a reasonable person, having regard for the circumstances, would see as unreasonable, including behaviour that is victimising, offensive, humiliating, intimidating, degrading or threatening. It includes, but is not limited to,

  • Verbal abuse;
  • Yelling, screaming or offensive language;
  • Initiation pranks;
  • Excluding or isolating a person;
  • Giving a person the majority of an unpleasant or meaningless task;
  • Humiliation through sarcasm, or belittling someone’s opinions;
  • Constant criticism or insults;
  • Spreading misinformation or malicious rumours;
  • Deliberately setting work routines, procedures and/or timelines to inconvenience certain individuals;
  • Undermining work performance by deliberately withholding information vital for effective work performance;
  • Displaying written or pictorial material which may degrade or offend certain individuals.

What is not bullying behaviour

Fair and reasonable management action taken in order to counsel an employee for instances of underperformance, investigating complaints made against employees, discipline for misconduct and other work directions in line with business needs does not amount to bullying.

Occupational Violence

Occupational violence is any incident where a worker is physically attacked or threatened in the workplace. This definition applies regardless of the intent of the attacker.
Violence can occur through direct or indirect means. It involves application of force to a worker’s body, clothing, or equipment, which creates a risk to health and safety.
A threat consists of a statement or behaviour that causes a person to believe that they are in danger of being physically attacked.
The source of occupational violence could be workers within ECA, its students, suppliers, and people known to ECA or strangers (intruders).
The definition of occupational violence covers all forms of physical attacks, including:

  • striking, kicking, scratching, biting, spitting, pushing, shoving, tripping, grabbing or any other kind of direct physical contact;
  • throwing objects;
  • attacks with knives, guns, clubs, or any other kind of weapon; and
  • any form of indecent physical contact.

Standards of Behaviour

In line with ECA’s commitment to creating a workplace which is free from workplace health and safety risks and one which strives to create positive working relationships, all those covered by this policy are expected to observe the following minimum standards of behaviour, including:

  • being polite and courteous to others;
  • being respectful of the differences between people and their circumstances;
  • ensuring they do not engage in any bullying behaviour(s) towards others in, or connected with the workplace which includes students, colleagues, supervisors and other managers;
  • ensuring they do not assist, or encourage others in the workplace, or in connection with the workplace to engage in bullying behaviour(s) of any type;
  • adhering to the complaint procedure in this policy if they experience any bullying behaviour(s) personally;
  • reporting any bullying behaviour(s) they see happening to others in the workplace, or connected with the workplace in line with the complaint procedure in this policy; and
  • keeping information confidential if involved in any investigation of bullying.

These standards of conduct are intended to operate in addition to, and in conjunction with, ECA’s Code of Conduct.

Breach of Policy

All individuals covered by this policy are expected to adhere to the standards of behaviour contained herein at all times.  Any employee who is found to have breached this policy will be disciplined accordingly, which may lead up to, and include termination of employment.  If a contractor of ECA is found to have breached this policy, their contract stands to be terminated, or may not be renewed in the future.

Regarding bullying, a single incident of the behaviour described does not fall within the above definition, MST does not condone and will not ignore such incidents. Any concern should be reported and will be considered seriously.
Regarding, Occupational Violence, this may and can lead to immediate termination depending on the severity of the occurrence.

All Supervisors are responsible for ensuring compliance with this policy in areas under their management.
Staff members, volunteers, contractors and visitors are responsible for supporting this policy.

  • staff members will be protected as far as is reasonably practicable from all forms of work-related bullying and harassment;
  • staff members are to be informed about unacceptable behaviours in the workplace;
  • any allegations or act of bullying or harassment that warrant formal investigation will be investigated in a suitably thorough manner;
  • disciplinary action, if warranted, will depend on the seriousness of the incident(s), and will range from counselling to summary dismissal;
  • the effectiveness of ECA’s measures to minimise bullying will be subject to on-going monitoring and evaluation;
  • staff members are to be informed about appropriate responses to bullying and harassment;
  • suitable reporting and recording systems will be maintained, and compliance monitored. Any incidents will be reported to the College Board;
  • appropriate action will be taken after any incidents of bullying, in terms of support, counselling and follow-up;
  • if at any stage a staff member is unhappy with how the matter is being handled, they may raise a grievance as per the following Complaint handling procedure.

Complaint handling procedure

All individuals covered by this policy who believe that they have been subject to actions or words that may constitute bullying should act upon such bullying as soon as possible by following the procedure set out below. Those individuals who believe they have witnessed bullying behaviour by another individual in the workplace, are also able to make complaints as set out in the following procedures.

Self-management (Amicable Resolution)

In the first instance, the aggrieved employee should, wherever practicable and if they feel comfortable doing so, attempt to amicably resolve the matter with the person (staff member or Supervisor or otherwise) who are alleged to have engaged in bullying. When confronting the issue, the individual should clearly state the offensive behaviour experienced, explain that the behaviour is unwelcome and offensive and ask that the behaviour does not continue. The person may not be aware that their behaviour or conduct was causing offense or was unwelcome.
This is not a compulsory part of the complaint procedure, and if an employee does not wish to confront the person directly, then this is not encouraged.

Where the alleged bullying involves the staff member’s direct Supervisor and it is not practical for them to directly resolve the matter, they shall immediately notify the Chief Operation Officer who, with the staff member’s approval will endeavour to investigate and resolve the matter on an informal basis in accordance with the procedure set out below.

Reporting Bullying and Occupational Violence

ECA will deal with all reports of workplace bullying occupational violence seriously, promptly and confidentially.

An informal complaint procedure includes a range of alternatives which can be applied in a flexible manner to address different complaints in consideration of the relevant circumstances. The informal complaint procedure is intended to be used for less serious allegations of bullying and instances which generally do not warrant disciplinary action being taken. An individual who is unsure of whether to make a formal or informal complaint, can always make an informal complaint first and decide if they want to escalate the complaint to a formal complaint after speaking with their supervisor or the Chief Operation Officer.

Different options for handling informal complaints may include, but are not limited to:

  • the Supervisor or Executive Principal having a conversation with the alleged bully about the behaviour complained of;
  • the Supervisor or Executive Principal having a meeting with the individuals concerned to reach a resolution;
  • mediation where parties will be given the opportunity to discuss the incident and attempt to reach a mutually agreeable resolution. This could include an apology, and undertaking that the behaviour will not recur, physical separation within the workplace of the parties involved, and counselling and monitoring of the perpetrator;
  • determine that the matter be formally investigated.

Formal Complaint Procedure – A written complaint lodged

Where an individual wishes to lodge a formal complaint, they will be required to do so by communicating this in writing to the Chief Operations Officer. A written complaint shall include the names of individuals concerned, details of the incident(s) and the names of any witnesses present.

Formal investigation commenced

Where a written complaint has been lodged, a formal investigation procedure will commence immediately. Formal investigations may be conducted by the Executive Principal or another person who is appointed by the Executive Principal, including someone external to ECA, e.g. an independent mediator.
Regardless of whether the investigation is carried out by an ECA staff member, or by an independent body/person, the investigator will aim to follow the procedure set out below:

  • clarify details of what took place and ensure that all necessary information is obtained;
  • identify the outcome the complainant is seeking;
  • discuss with the complainant their legal rights, including lodging a formal complaint with the relevant state or federal tribunal;
  • discuss the complaint made with the person/s accused of bullying; and
  • deciding as to whether the alleged behaviour occurred and if it constituted bullying.

If ECA feels it is appropriate in the interests of health and safety of employees concerned, and/or the efficiency of the investigation process, employees may be requested to refrain from attending work for a period whilst the investigation is underway. Alternatively, employees may be given different duties or work to perform while the investigation is being conducted. Employees who are requested to do either of these will be paid at their normal rate of pay during this period.

Where it becomes apparent that the complaint is related to conduct which constitutes misconduct or otherwise warrants disciplinary action, the investigator is to refer to the Corrective Action & Discipline Policy for further action and resolution.


Whilst the investigator will endeavour to preserve the confidentiality of the complainant and the person complained of, it may be necessary to speak with other workers or people involved to determine what happened and to maintain the integrity of the investigation process.
Where potentially unlawful conduct has occurred, ECA will need to alert the appropriate authorities.

Those people who are involved in the complaint (including the complainant, witnesses etc.) are also under a duty to maintain confidentiality and display a commitment to uphold the integrity of the investigation process. If the complainant chooses to bring a support person with them to any meetings, they too are bound by confidentiality.


The outcomes of formal or informal complaints will depend on the nature of the complaint, its severity and what is deemed appropriate in the relevant circumstances.

Where the results of an investigation procedure suggest that an individual is guilty of bullying, appropriate disciplinary procedures will be followed in line with ECA’s Corrective Action & Discipline Policy. The disciplinary action will depend on the nature and severity of the behaviour and may include termination of employment, which may be instant dismissal where serious misconduct is deemed to have occurred.

Where the complaint involves a contractor or agent of ECA and an investigation process reveals that a person has engaged in unlawful conduct or other behaviour which is prohibited by this policy, those concerned may face termination of their contracts immediately, or will not be renewed in the future. In addition to the remedies provided in the ECA Corrective Action & Discipline policy, other action may be deemed necessary to resolve or remedy the behaviour complained of, including but not limited to:

  • providing training to employees concerned regarding bullying;
  • requiring employees who have breached this policy to apologise to appropriate person(s);
  • adjusting working arrangements where appropriate;
  • providing professional support services such as counselling or medical advice, as appropriate to employees (complainant and the person complained of);
  • placing employees on performance improvement plans to ensure improved behaviour;
  • providing coaching and mentoring;
  • in relation to incidents of occupational violence, the following additional measures may also be required:
    • first aid and medical treatment will be provided if necessary;
    • staff members involved in any incident will be given the opportunity of being relieved of their duties, temporarily or for the day; and
    • de-briefing and ongoing counselling will be offered to the victim and witnesses.

Appeals procedure

If any parties involved are unhappy with the outcome, or the way the complaint handling procedure was managed by ECA please contact the Executive Principal to discuss your concerns
Once notified, the Executive Principal, or their nominee, will conduct a review of the procedure followed, the outcome issued and make a final determination on the issue. Once this determination is made, the person who has made the appeal will be notified of the outcome and this determination will be final.

If the Executive Principal is involved in bullying or occupational violence, then the investigation, handling and appeals procedures will be managed by the Board Chair and at least another Board member.