New laws in Victoria mean workplace bullies could face criminal
penalties of up to 10 years imprisonment after Parliament this week
passed the Crimes Amendment (Bullying) Bill 2011.
The Bill amends provisions in the Crimes Act 1958 to
bring serious bullying behaviour such as "threats and abusive
words or acts" within the definition of stalking. The penalty
for stalking is up to 10 years' imprisonment". The Bill
also extends the scope of "harm", to include self-harm
and defines "mental harm" as psychological harm and
The Bill, commonly referred to as "Brodie's Law",
was introduced in April 2011 in response to the death of Melbourne
waitress Brodie Panlock, who committed suicide in 2006 after being
incessantly bullied at work.
The new law is expected to take effect when it receives royal
assent in early June 2011. Important legislative changes in the
broadening the scope of the definition of stalking to include
serious bullying behaviour such as abusive and offensive words or
making bullying behaviour subject to stalking penalties of up
to 10 years imprisonment
expanding the definition of harm to include self-harm and
mental harm such as psychological harm and suicidal thoughts
allowing bullying victims to apply for the protection of a
stalking intervention order.
These laws will be in addition to the current provisions under
the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 dealing with
employers' obligations to provide a workplace which is safe and
without risks to health, including mental health. The OHS Act also
places obligations on individuals to take reasonable care for the
health and safety of themselves and others.
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