Bullying

You have a right to a safe, respectful and inclusive environment free from bullying regardless of your personal characteristics or background. You also have a right to report bullying and not be victimised for doing so.

Urgent help

More support services are available on this page.

What is bullying?

Bullying is repeated unreasonable behaviour directed at an individual or group that creates a risk to their health and safety. The behaviour can include actions of an individual or a group, and often involves the bully or bullies inappropriately asserting power.

While bullying is often a repeated behaviour, one-off instances can be considered bullying too. Examples of bullying include:

  • verbal or written abuse. This includes abusive, insulting, belittling, intimidating or offensive language, spreading of rumours, teasing, and displaying offensive posters or graffiti
  • threatening physical behaviour including physical gestures and unwelcomed physical contact
  • excluding someone from a group (e.g. study group) either online or offline where it is unreasonable to do so
  • offensive or intimidating initiation practices
  • non-constructive criticism about academic performance including derogatory, demeaning and insulting remarks
  • cyberbullying such as abusive and inappropriate emails or social media posts
  • unwelcomed interference with an individual’s belongings.

Some statistics (Australia)

  • 27 per cent of young people (16-24 years) experience bullying.
  • 10 per cent of young people (16-24 years) experience cyberbullying.
  • 88 per cent of bullies are known to the victim.
  • 65 per cent of victims ignore the bullying, 35 per cent retaliate.

Source: Beyond Blue, 2014

What can I do about bullying?

If you are experiencing bullying, here are some steps you can take.

Take action to stop the behaviour

  • If you feel comfortable to do so, tell the person that their behaviour is inappropriate and unwelcomed.
  • Ask the person to stop the behaviour using a strong, assertive tone.
  • Ignore the bullying – turn your back and walk away.
  • Block the person on social media and ask them to remove any offensive content.
  • Do not respond to messages.

Seek advice and support

  • Tell trusted people in your support network that you are being bullied and how it’s affecting you. This may include friends, family, neighbours, work mates, or peers/staff at university. Seek their advice on how to respond.
  • Seek professional support and advice.
  • Stay positive. Focus on the things you do well, and the people you like who care about you.
  • Spend time with people you like and doing things you enjoy.

Record and report the behaviour

  • Make a note of all instances of bullying including the date, time, place, names and witnesses present.
  • Describe the behaviour that is upsetting you and the impact it has had (e.g. taking time off study).
  • Keep any evidence, e.g. copies of messages, photos, or online conversations.
  • Report offensive content on social media to the social media site.
  • Report bullying behaviour to Swinburne e.g. teaching or professional staff, security services, or Safer Community.
  • If you fear for your safety or feel threatened, report the behaviour to police.

Help others by being an active bystander

If you witness someone experiencing bullying, you can help the situation as an active bystander.

  • Interrupt the behaviour and distract from the situation if safe to do so.
  • Talk privately to the person being bullied and ask if they are ok.
  • Talk privately to the person acting inappropriately.
  • Bring the behaviour to the attention of others and intervene as a group.
  • Get help from somebody with authority (e.g. teaching staff or security services).
  • Do not become violent.
  • Call for help (security services: +61 3 9214 3333 or emergency services: 000).
  • Listen and support the person being bullied. Empower them to seek help and report the behaviour.

What help can I get now?

No matter where, when or what happened, support is always available. 

Swinburne support services

We offer a range of support services and resources that you can access. Our staff will provide safe, non-judgmental, caring and sensitive support, which focuses on your needs.

Safer Community

Advice, support, intervention, and risk management if you experience or witness concerning behaviours on or off campus. To report concerning behaviour email safercommunity@swinburne.edu.au or complete the online incident reporting form.

Swinburne security services

Contact campus security services for emergencies on campus or for a security officer escort. Call +61 3 9214 3333.

Counselling and psychological services

If you are struggling with a personal, emotional or mental health difficulty, whether related to your studies or your life away from university, counselling may help. Register and make an appointment with Swinburne’s counselling services on +61 3 9214 8025.

Crisis line – out of hours

The Swinburne crisis line is available to help 24 hours a day on weekends and public holidays, and outside business hours on weekdays (before 9am and after 5pm). Call 1300 854 144 or text 0488 884 145.

Independent advocacy service

Swinburne Student Life provides an independent advocacy service including policy advice, support and guidance in academic issues. They advocate for best outcomes in complaints, grievances, appeals and misconduct hearings. Call +61 3 9214 5445 or email studentlife@swinburne.edu.au.

Other support services

Police

National emergency response and reporting with Victoria Police. In emergencies call 000.

Lifeline

24/7 phone crisis support with Lifeline by calling 13 11 14.

Australian Human Rights Commission

The Australian Human Rights Commission investigates and resolves complaints of discrimination, harassment and bullying based on a person’s sex, disability, race, age and sexuality. Call 1300 656 419.

eheadspace

A confidential, free and secure space to chat to qualified youth mental health professionals at eheadspace.

eSafety

eSafety provides advice, strategies and support for cyberbullying, as well as online reporting. Call 1800 880 176.