I have been a victim of workplace bullying. It is absolutely no fun at all. It was made worse by the fact that the perpetrators had no idea as to what they were doing. For them they were, ” … being professional.” or they were, “.. ensuring the integrity of the organisation.”
When you are the only person in the workplace who has an obvious disability everything that you do is magnified. If I miss a meeting, because I am ill or held up, everyone knows because the interpreters make it obvious. If I do things differently, simply by doing the bulk of my communication electronically, I am challenging the culture of the organisation. It is very hard just to blend in seamlessly. I envy workers that can.
At my last work place I fought this bullying for almost 18 months. I am an advocate, I fight for the rights of people with a disability. I fight hard and I take no backward steps. I challenged the organisations professionalism. I demanded change from others because without that change I could not work. And the organisation resisted the change to the point that they were monitoring my every move including my Facebook.
They wanted to trip me up and lay blame on me. The simple solution would be to tell their staff to respond in an appropriate time frame to electronic communications so that I could do my job properly. But no, this was too hard and everything was my fault. They were sly and they were nasty. They delayed approving work. They delayed providing feedback to reports and then demanded that they be completed. They refused to respond to emails. In short they did everything possible to make it impossible for me to do my job.
In the end I broke down. The relentless pressure got to me. The constant looking over my shoulder got to me. It got to a point where I thought I was working in a fish bowl where my every move was scrutinised.
After 18 months my confidence was shot and they broke me. I was off work for two months. I am fixed now, but they broke me for a time. That was almost 12 months ago.
I have been thinking about this often recently. I have been thinking about how people become bullies without really knowing it. Not just the people at my work but even YOU the reader. Even me the WRITER. We become bullies simply through our everyday actions. And like my workplace did, we try to justify it. It took Tony Abbott to make me realise this.
“TONY ABBOTT is like the man who has stepped in what a dog left behind, yet is mystified by the rank odour of everything he approaches.” Imagine arriving at work and opening your email to read this! It may well be true, but imagine if this was you. Imagine if this was just one of hundreds of things that you had to read about yourself everyday, simply because you were doing your job.
For Tony Abbott this is the reality. His workplace is Australia. He is our Prime Minister and is under immense pressure. To the best of his ability he is doing his job. Sure I do not like the way he is doing his job. I do not like the policies of his Government. I think they are grossly unfair. I do not like the “Stop the Boats” policy, I think its inhumane. I think the rich are getting off easy and the poor are carrying the can. That’s my view.
Tony Abbott has a different view. And for that he gets lampooned everyday. He will turn on the TV and he will be critisised roundly. He will open up his social media and there will be any number of memes ridiculing him. And they are nasty, believe me they are nasty.
Here are some of the things people think are ok to print about our Prime Minister:
1) Fuck I’m a dickhead – Vote for me you stupid woman! (meme)
2) Hey girl, our broadband uses the latest technology, hold my 3.5 inch floppy and I’ll show you. (meme)
3) Tony Abbott is a misogynist, sexist, homophobic, bully, racist, a liar and is the worst PM in Australian History. (Tony Abbott Worst Prime Minister Ever Facebook page.)
4) ‘Mutant pig with human face and penis on forehead draws crowd’. My first thought was that Tony Abbott was holding another press conference. (Comment on Anti Tony Abbott propaganda.)
Just for doing his job, whether we agree with how he is doing it or not, he must put up with this every day. If you have been bullied, if you have been made ill by bullying, if you have known people to suicide because of bullying – this kind of treatment of any human being has to worry you.
And this happens not just from us the bullying public, but from people within Mr Abbott’s own Party. With this immense pressure he is expected to do his job. His every gaffe is printed and his every mistake laughed at. From here to America he is lampooned as the worst Australian Prime Minister ever. And the Australian public think it is perfectly acceptable. And shamefully I, who have been a victim of workplace bullying, have contributed to it.
And I fear for Mr Abbott. His behaviour is becoming all the more erratic. His gaffes are becoming all the more prominent. Surely we can disagree with our Prime Minister without the constant cruel and cutting comments. By all means protest, suggest alternatives, lobby hard and even vote him out. But play the man – not the ball.
Some will say that it is just the life that politicians choose to live. Others will say that he has it coming. I say we all need to take a step back and think long and hard about what we are doing. I am no fan of Mr Abbott or his Government. But whether we like it or not, he is just doing his job and trying the best he can.
It is time for us all to clean up our act.