Public servants stay quiet on bullying

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Well over half of public servants in Australia who have experienced workplace bullying or harassment have not reported it for fear of retaliation or a negative impact on their career.

The results of this year’s employee census were revealed in the latest State of the Service report on Wednesday.

In fiscal year 2021/22, the public service received 627 employee complaints of harassment and bullying, which is a slight increase from 615 reports in 2020/21.

While the proportion of people experiencing bullying or harassment fell to 9.7% from 11.7 in 2021, the report says nearly 60% of workers chose not to speak out.

The most frequently cited reasons included believing that no action would be taken, fear of reprisal or possible retaliation, and that the report would have a negative impact on their career.

The number of sexual harassment complaints fell to 59 in the past fiscal year from 78 the previous year.

“APS must maintain its efforts to create an environment that supports and encourages the reporting of unacceptable behavior,” the report said.

Verbal abuse and interference with work duties, including withholding necessary information or being undermined, were the two main reasons for reported incidents.

Women make up 60% of the civil service workforce, but despite being in the majority, they are slightly under-represented at the highest classification level of SES bands 2 and 3.

About 46% of the roles held in this band classification are held by women, while 53% are men.

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