Defining Bullying and Harrassment


What is Bullying?

Bullying is behaviour or conduct that involves the inappropriate use of power by one (1) or more persons in relation to another person or group of people who are less powerful or in a position of vulnerability.

Bullying may be a serious or repeated behaviour or conduct, or it may be a single incident.

Bullying may make a person feel unsafe or uncomfortable and may manifest in a variety of often interrelated forms, which may include but are not limited to:

  1. verbal (such as name calling; putting that person or people down; or making threats) 
  2. physical (such as hitting or punching, kicking or spitting)
  3. social (such as exclusion or isolation; ostracising or alienating a person or people)
  4. psychological (such as spreading rumours; embarrassing someone in public or in front of their peers; hiding or damaging that person’s or people’s possession; or stalking)
  5. cyberbullying (using technology to target or Bully another person or group of people and may include harassment; threats; embarrassment; humiliation; or the spreading of rumours).

Bullying may cause the recipient to feel victimised, humiliated, threatened, degraded, offended or intimidated and can cause significant harm to the safety and wellbeing of the recipients. Certain types of Bullying behaviour and conduct may also be unlawful, particularly where it involves physical assault, harassment, discrimination, or if it contributes to a psychological injury.  

For further information regarding Bullying, including the signs of Bullying, download the full Anti-Bullying and Harassment Policy via the link above.

What is Harassment?

Harassment is any unwelcome behaviour or conduct by a person (which may be verbal or physical) that intimidates, offends, belittles, threatens or humiliates another person.  This behaviour or conduct may only have to occur once and does not have to occur on multiple occasions to constitute Harassment.  Harassment does not have to be intentional, as the primary focus is on the impact of the conduct or behaviour.

As a guide, any behaviour or conduct is likely to be Harassment if a reasonable person would be likely to recognise or construe the behaviour or conduct as being unwelcome and likely to cause the recipient to feel or be offended, humiliated, threatened, or belittled. 

Depending on the type of behaviour or conduct and the surrounding circumstances, Harassment may be unlawful as there are a range of Commonwealth and State / Territory legislation that protects against such behaviour or conduct.  In particular, the law protects against:

  1. harassment that targets or has a consequential adverse impact on an individual or group of people because of a personal characteristic or attribute that is protected by State, Territory or Commonwealth anti-discrimination laws; and
  2. sexual harassment, which is one type of Harassment. It relates to a wide range of unwelcome behaviour and conduct that is of a sexual nature, such as but not limited to comments, remarks or innuendo and can be verbal, written, visual or physical.