Simulation is set to become a key weapon in the fight to rid the building and construction industry in Victoria of unacceptable bullying behaviour.
Launched last week by state Attorney General Robert Clarke at the Building Leadership Simulation Centre in South Melbourne, the Awareness and Prevention of Workplace Bullying course being run by the Victorian chapter of the Master Builders Association is set not in a traditional seminar room but rather in a purpose built facility designed to resemble a real-work double-storey building site.
Participants will undergo two-day courses in which they interact with professional actors (who may be foreman, site managers, subordinates, colleagues, visiting tradespeople or workplace inspectors) in a simulated environment and receive feedback in terms of how given situations might have been handled more effectively – the objective revolving around learning through immersion and practical application as opposed to more traditional forms of seminar-room discussion.
The launch of the program follows the insertion of new bullying provisions into the Fair Work Act by the federal government earlier this year as well as the introduction of ‘Brodie’s Law’ at a state level in Victoria just over two years ago – legislation named after a young lady who ended her life having experienced ongoing intimidating behaviour by her co-workers at an inner Melbourne café which made serious bullying a crime punishable by up to ten years in jail.
Master Builders Association (Victoria) Chief Executive Officer Radley de Silva said the courses aims to raise awareness about bullying on construction sites and how the problem can be managed.
He said dealing with bullying was a shared responsibility, and that as the second largest employing sector in the state, the building industry has an important role to play.
“Bullying is an issue which impacts the whole community and it will take a whole community effort to solve it” de Silva said.
“Everyone has a role to play in tackling this problem – employers, employees, government and the public. We have to work together.”
Clark says the buy-in of industries and industry bodies is essential if unacceptable behaviour is to be stamped out of workplaces.
He says the government does not want to punish people but rather to send the message that no form of bullying is acceptable and that victims have every right to speak up.