Publication Details

Kelly, D. J., Workplace bullying, women and WorkChoices, in Proceedings of Our Work…Our Lives: National Conference on Women and Industrial Relations, Brisbane, 12-14 July 2006.


Considerable evidence points to an increase in workplace bullying, in large part as a consequence of competitive pressures, the predominance of business values, and concomitantly, the declining legitimacy ascribed to fairness and social justice. This paper examines workplace bullying in the context of the recent employment relations legislation in Australia (WorkChoices). It is shown that the legislation will enhance and extend women’s labour market disadvantage by shifting the employment relationship to the private sphere, together with informalisation of workplace relations, reduced access to formal procedures and reduced accountability and transparency. Moreover, overt government support of business wishes will enable managers and employers to condone or encourage bullying. In exploring these issues, the paper will draw on a ‘Swiss Cheese’ model, which highlights the factors which might enhance or prevent workplace bullying.