Standing up for the mob

Safety at work is a right for NSW workers and we all have responsibilities to respect and protect the rights of others at work.

It can be confronting and challenging to stand up against discrimination, bullying, harassment and lateral violence, particularly if you are the one who has been targeted by these behaviours. It might also be dangerous.

Always talk to someone you trust about what is occurring. This might be someone you work with or someone outside of the workplace.

Safety in numbers works. Direct and open support for bullied, harassed or targeted workers can achieve substantial changes in workplace relationships.

Building culturally safe workplaces

Building cultural safety in your workplace is not a once-off activity but a continuous process of performance monitoring and quality improvement. Developing policies is the start of this process. Making sure that policies are implemented and operating as intended is critical to ensuring the benefits in your workplace.

All workers, managers, employers, directors and volunteers can work towards making sure that if bullying, harassment or lateral violence occur it is identified and managed quickly, responsibly and in a professional way.

Have a look at our safety support section and our building health and safety culture section to gain more insight into how you might be able to improve your health and safety procedures and the engagement of workers.

If you are a worker

You can model behaviour that supports cultural safety for all in the workplace. This includes:

  • being open, honest and professional at work
  • keeping you and your co-workers health and safety top of mind at work
  • listening closely to co-workers and managers
  • knowing the health and safety policies in your workplace, including about violence at work
  • building trust with your co-workers, managers and employers.

If you are an employer

Employers, directors and managers set the tone for a workplace. Some simple strategies to health and safety will help build trust between you and workers and allow for open discussion about any aspect of health and safety. These strategies include:

  • regularly consulting with your workers about health and safety or any of their concerns
  • making sure that everyone knows the policies and standards of behaviour in your workplace
  • making your commitment to cultural safety obvious to workers and ensuring you follow through on any concerns, feedback or safety issues
  • making it clear that you do not tolerate violence in any form at work
  • holding cultural safety training sessions for all people in the workplace
  • making sure there are no repercussions for speaking out about health and safety or violence.

Supportive bystanders

A supportive bystander will take action to protect the rights of others.

A supportive bystander will use words and/or actions that can help someone who is being bullied or targeted through lateral violence.

If bystanders are confident to take safe and effective action to support victims then there is a greater possibility that violent behaviour can stop and the person who is targeted will recover.

People respect those that stand up for others who are being targeted but being a supportive bystander can be tough. Sometimes it is not easy to work out how to help safely because lateral violence can happen in different ways and places such as online, at work or socially.

There is no one size fits all approach to being a supportive bystander. Here are some suggestions to help you take safe and effective action:

  • make it clear to your co-workers that you won’t be involved in violent or bullying behaviour
  • never stand by and watch or encourage lateral violence
  • do not harass, tease or spread gossip about others, this includes on social networking sites like Facebook
  • never forward on or respond to messages or photos that may be offensive or upsetting
  • support the person who is being targeted to ask for help e.g. go with them to a place they can get help or provide them with information about where to go for help
  • report it to someone in authority or someone you trust e.g. a manager but if there is violence/assault, report it to the police. If the bullying occurs on Facebook, report it to Facebook.

Who to contact?

We have also prepared information on who to contact if you need further specific assistance

Other resources

If you employ Aboriginal people, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing toolkit from the Inner North West Primary Care Partnership (Vic) will help you identify when, and how, you might need to specifically support Aboriginal people in your workplace.

The information will also be useful for your cultural safety programs and policies and may be of use to Aboriginal workers individually too.

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