Bullying in the Workplace

Are you being treated unfairly?

Workplace bullying is repeated unreasonable behaviour directed towards an employee, or a group of employees, that creates a risk to their health and safety.

It is not bullying when the behaviour is reasonable performance management. If your boss discusses your poor performance with you in a reasonable manner, this is not bullying.

Bullying behaviour may involve, for example, any of the following types of behaviour:

  • aggressive or intimidating conduct;
  • belittling or humiliating comments;
  • spreading malicious rumours;
  • teasing, practical jokes or ‘initiation ceremonies’;
  • exclusion from work-related events;
  • unreasonable work expectations, including too much or too little work, or work below or beyond an employee’s skill level;
  • displaying offensive material;
  • pressure to behave in an inappropriate manner.

You should try to address issues of bullying at work by speaking to your supervisor, human resources manager or health and safety representative.  There should be processes already in place in the workplace to deal with issues of bullying, such as a bullying policy or a complaints procedure. You should also speak to your Union if you are in one.

If you don’t feel comfortable speaking to someone at work, and the bullying is ongoing, or you don’t think the situation was handled properly, you can make a complaint about bullying to the Fair Work Commission. The Fair Work Commission become involved if there is:

  • unreasonable behaviour by a person or people at work;
  • it is repeated;
  • there is a risk to health and safety; and
  • there is a risk the bullying will continue.

For application forms and further information, contact the Fair Work Commission.

FYI – You have the right to make a complaint. If you make a complaint about bullying and, as a result, your employer takes adverse action against you (for example, by reducing your hours or dismissing you), you may have a General Protections claim.

Differences between states

Northern Territory

If you need advice or information contact NT WorkSafe on 1800 019 115.

For further advice you can contact the Central Australian Women’s Legal Service on 08 8952 4055 or the NT Working Women’s Centre on 08 8981 0655 in Darwin, or in Alice Springs on 08 8952 5255.


If you need more information or would like advice or further assistance, contact WorkSafe ACT, or take a look at their online publication I think I am being bullied, what do I do?

If you want advice about whether you can do anything about bullying in your workplace, contact the Women’s Legal Centre ACT.

Western Australia

Workplace bullying can take a number of forms – if you need more information contact Worksafe on 1300 307 877.

Before lodging a claim it is best to get legal advice. You can get legal advice by calling the Employment Law Centre on 1300 130 956 or 9227 0111.


You can find more advice and information on the WorkCover NSW website.


You can find more information on the Victoria Worksafe website or Youth Law website.

South Australia

If you need advice or more information, you can contact the Working Women’s Centre on 1800 652 697 or SafeWork SA on 1300 365 255.


If you need advice or need more information contact Workplace Standards on 1300 366 322 or Worker Assist on 1300 027 747.


You can find more advice and information on the Queensland Government website