Recently, there was a disturbing news story in relation to a ‘Resilience Coach’ who had uploaded a bullying article onto Brighton Grammar’s (one of Melbourne’s top private school’s) website. The resilience coach had stated that the victims of bullying needed to own part of the problem for being bullied and to stop playing the victim. I remember at the time of the news report, I said to myself that surely this can’t be a real story as no one could possibly blame the victim for being bullied.
At the time of hearing this news story I was actually driving my car on my way to hear a presentation about bullying in the workplace.
I had the privilege that morning of sitting through a presentation given by Rae and Damien Panlock to a business in Melbourne’s West about the effects of bullying on the victim and their family. It was unbelievably sad but incredibly moving. Rae and Damien’s daughter Brodie, took her own life in September 2006 as a direct result of sustained and vicious bullying she received at her workplace. During their presentation they tell the story of what happened to Brodie and the fact that they had no idea of what was occurring to her at work prior to her death.
I have four children and I found it impossible whilst listening to Rae and Damien tell their story to not think about them. I couldn’t stop myself from crying as they told of their disbelief of what happened to their daughter and their search for answers. I kept thinking “what if that was one of my kids”.
After Brodie died some workmates of hers came forward and started to tell the story of what was happening to her at work. So, not only did Rae and Damien have to deal with the sudden and tragic death of their daughter, they also had to go through the trauma of hearing the story unfold of the sustained bullying she went through that ultimately led to her taking her life. The full story of what happened is theirs to tell but for me there were some really strong messages that came out of that presentation.
We should all be thankful to the Panlocks who have committed their lives to help change perceptions about bullying in the workplace and its impact on victims, families and the community. Through their efforts the law in Victoria has been changed to make Bullying a criminal offence punishable by up to 10 years in jail. It is now known as Brodie’s Laws .
They work tirelessly for their foundation going from business to business to deliver the message and to make change happen. Truly amazing people.
Don’t let this happen in your business. Make sure you have policies and procedures in place to ensure your staff understand their obligations and then what to do if they become aware this is happening. They may not be the victim but they may know of bullying or harassment that is taking place in the workplace. We will probably never be able to stop people bullying or harassing others but what we do need is people to stand up and talk up when they know it’s happening. They may just save a life.
But policies and procedures aren’t enough. Make sure you train your staff as well and that the training is meaningful and has a positive impact on behaviour. At Learning Seat our vision is to change workplace behaviour for good and when it comes to training we believe the best way to do this is to tell stories. Immerse the learner in stories, true stories, to make it interesting and to help shift the behavioural dial.
To suggest that the victims of bullying are somehow partly responsible and are playing the victim is simply nuts. If you’re not sure just think about Brodie.