Bad Apple Bullies

Bad Apple Bully school principals and departmental officers can bully Australian teachers into ill health - and out of work!

Contacts :

Please keep in mind that the suggestions made on the Bad Apple Bullies web site do NOT constitute professional advice.

They are intended as informal indications on how to proceed, based largely on research, discussions and on observations of Bad Apple Bullies and "the process" in operation.

You should seek advice from an ethical and publicly accountable professional before taking action.

To contact the editor : cosser(at)


Other useful websites :

The Teachers Are Blowing Their Whistles 

Robina Cosser is editing this website for Queensland teachers.

Read how a young male teacher - a first year graduate - was driven out of work in Queensland!


SING : Silence Is Not Golden   

Karen Smith has launched this website to discuss the way that elderly people are being treated in Queensland aged care facilities:  


Teachers With Integrity  

Dr Robert Bartholomew has established this website to discuss the working conditions of Northern Territory teachers.

Dr Bartholomew is particularly concerned about the NT practice of 'blacklisting' teachers who ask questions about the asbestos problems at their school.


Westmead Hospital Whistleblowers 


Victims of CSIRO


More Contacts for Australian Teachers.


Your GP.

Make sure you have a good one. If the Bad Apple bullying makes you ill, your GP will be very, very important to you.


Psychologist Gary Namie recommends that people who are being bullied should see a GP and have their health checked. 

A host of stress-related diseases, such as hair falling out, begin silently.

Bullies take toll at office, Megan Blaney, San Bernardino County Sun, 21 May 2005


Your psychologist/psychiatrist.

Make sure that you have a established a relationship with a trustworthy psychologist / psychiatrist before the Bad Apple Bully-Mob launch a Section 85-attack.


Editor's note : Section 85 is now called Part 174 of the Public Service Act 2008 (QLD).

 (Because in Queensland we deal with problems by changing the name of the problem).


A previous established relationship may offer you some protection from abuse of psychological testing instruments.

Section 85 of the Public Service Act can lead to the dismissal or early retirement of a public servant. ...

The reality is that it can easily be used to get rid of people who cause problems for the Government by revealing short-comings within departments. ...

Section 85 of the Public Service Act 2008 appears to be employed because anyone who tries to blow the whistle on the Queensland Government must clearly be insane because they had failed to take note of what happened to others who had attempted to do this. ...

Guards expose culture of disability, Mike O'Connor, Monday View, The Courier-Mail, November 14, 2005


These are a few of the questions given to workers sent for compulsory psychiatric tests under the controversial Section 85 of the Queensland Government Public Service Act -


Have you ever used cannabis or been sexually abused?

What operations have you had?

Were you adopted?

Are you homosexual?


The results are given to the public service administrators who ordered the test, whether the employee wants them to know or not.


"This questionnaire is most offensive," said Liberal MP and former GP Bruce Flegg, who wants the compulsory psychiatric assessments banned.

It's six pages of the most personal, intrusive and humiliating questions I've ever seen." ...


... Dozens of Queensland public servants have told The Sunday Mail that tests have devastated their lives or careers.

Several described the psychiatric sessions as like being "mentally raped".


Others say the psychiatric report's contents have become known to co-workers.


Some psychiatrists, having found no evidence of mental illness, have recommended disciplinary action.

"There are increasing examples coming forward to indicate that Section 85 is being used to intimidate staff or even force them to take stress leave or resign," Dr Flegg said.

Public service bosses hear darkest secrets, Daryl Passmore, The Sunday Mail, 21 November, 2004


Dr Bill Wilkie, a veteran Brisbane psychiatrist,  says six or so particular psychiatrists were used on a regular basis by some government departments to conduct compulsory examinations on employees.

The Sunday Mail revealed growing concerns by workplace lawyers and the Queensland Public Sector Union that a lack of guidelines was allowing mental health tests to be abused. ...


Dr Wilkie said Section 85 of the Public Service Act, which allows for psychiatric tests in limited circumstances, was frequently abused.


"There must be some circumstances in which Section 85 has been used properly - but I actually have not heard of any," he said.

"This raises the issue of hired guns.

There are psychiatrists in this town who ... will damage a person's credibility on cue - they are like attack dogs.'

A common trick was to examine someone who had been left traumatised, nervy and depressed by workplace conflict and to report a diagnosis as if it had been a pre-existing condition.


"They have saved insurance companies lots and lots of money. The whole situation is just deplorable," he said.

"I've seen cases where a number of people have come out of one workplace and WorkCover know full well it's a toxic workplace but there does not seem to be any interest in doing anything."

Editor : Teachers, this abuse of Section 85 has been public knowledge since 2004!

Ask your local QTU rep : What have the QTU done about this situation? 

  • Doctor Tells of Medical "Hitmen", Daryl Passmore, The Sunday Mail (QLD),, October 31, 2004


The Queensland Public Sector Union agrees the assessments are being used more frequently and to punish people.

"The ones who get referred under Section 85 are the people that someone already has it in for," said QPSU official Darren Hooper.


"There are examples where people have lodged a complaint about their boss or co-worker.

The employer has responded with a Section 85 referral and held off investigating the original complaint."

"Some departments are quite ruthless in their use of this."


Section 85 of the Public Service Act says an employee can be directed to undergo psychiatric assessment in circumstances where an officer reasonably suspects that their absence from work or performance in the workplace is explained by mental illness or mental disability.

Psych tests dished out as punishment, Daryl Passmore, The Sunday Mail,, October 24, 2004


If you are concerned about the abuse of psychiatric assessments to intimidate and silence professional discussion -

Read the Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) Code of Conduct and Code of Ethics.

The Editor understands that the abuse of Section 85 to bully a teacher is an unethical use of psychological testing instruments.

And that you can complain about this to-

The Psychologists Board of Queensland, GPO Box 2438, Brisbane, QLD, 4001,   

and/or to the Australian Psychological Society, PO Box 38, Flinders Lane Post Office, Melbourne, VIC 8009,  


The Editor would be interested to know how effectively these organisations deal with your complaint.


Queenslanders are just one allegation away from incarceration in a mental ward, according to a retired Queensland school teacher.

Ray Collofello, a respected special needs teacher with no history of mental illness, was forced by police into a psychiatric examination in his home.

"To be put through something like this is just so incredibly demoralising"

Mr Collofello's nightmare wasn't sparked by aberrant behaviour - it was orchestrated by someone who objected to the height of trees in his yard.

Mr Collofello was prompted to go public in June 2006 after revelations in The Courier-Mail that a police officer had been forced into a mental health examination - after conflicts with superiors!


Mr Collofello said he and his wife were preparing lunch for family on Easter Sunday 2005 when two Boondall police officers, accompanied by two mental health workers, knocked on the door of their Geebung home.

They requested Mr Collofello undergo a mental health examination.


The State Government says up to 70 similar examinations are carried out every month in Queensland.


Under the Mental Health Act, Justice Examination Orders (JEO's) can be obtained by anyone provided they are able to convince a magistrate or JP to authorise the JEO and to claim to believe the subject has a mental illness requiring examination.

More than 95 per cent of the JEO's are actually issued by JPs, who need no medical qualifications.

JPs have ordered psychiatric assessments on more than 2500 Queenslanders in the three years to July 2008.

Less than half of the assessments were justified.

Doctors or authorised mental health practitioners are empowered to enter any place to conduct the examination.

They can be accompanied by police if they deem it necessary.

Police can enter a person's home and take them away for psychiatric assessment against their will.

Mental health workers who force Queenslanders to undergo psychiatric assessment routinely refuse them -

  • all information about their case,
  • the name of the JP,
  • the name of the complainant,
  • the right to know what prompted the action.

Clearly this situation is wide, wide open to malicious abuse.


David Solomon, who reviewed Queensland Freedom of Information laws in early 2008, called for the role of JPs to be reconsidered.

David Solomon also said that it was unfair for someone deprived of their liberty not to be told what was alleged about them.


  • Insanity test warning, Michael Madigan, p.7, The Courier-Mail, 17 June 2006
  • More than half of JPs' psychiatric orders not justified, The Courier-Mail, Saturday July 5, 2008
  • State of mental injustice, Madonna King, The Courier-Mail, Saturday July 5, 2008


* * * * * *

Ask your GP to suggest a good local psychologist.

Do this immediately because you may have to wait for up to two months for an appointment.


Evelyn Field says that teachers are more likely than most to be bullied at work.

Teachers can be bullied by -

  • other teachers,
  • senior staff,
  • students
  • and parents.

Some schools -

  • use bullying tactics to get rid of staff.
  • allow parents to threaten and abuse staff.
  • disguise bullying by saying that bullied teachers are just stressed.

Often the organisational system condones the abuse of power. 

Evelyn Field says that teacher-bullying can lead to "a death of the soul, a psychic disintegration."

  • Staffroom victims, Evelyn Field, The Age, June 25, 2003
  • The parent trap, Elisabeth Tarica, The Age, 28 April, 2008

Evelyn Field has a website at .

Your solicitor.

Editor : the Queensland Department of Education "official processes" do not seem to work, no matter how much time and effort a target of bullying puts into them.

The real purpose of the Education Queensland "processes" seem to be to drain the target's energy and to exhaust legal time-frames.

The official Departmental processes also allow Bad Apple Bullies the opportunity to continually change their allegations, create new "documents" and to "lose" key documents.

The quickest, easiest and perhaps even most financially smart way to deal with a workplace bully may be to go directly to your own solicitor at the first sign of a problem. 

The longer that you hesitate, the more complex the situation will become and the more you will have to pay for legal advice.

A simple letter describing the bullying behaviour and asking the Bad Apple Bully to apologise and to desist may be effective in stopping the harassment.

If it is not, at least you will have a legal record of the early stages of the harassment.

And -

You may not realise that your health is being affected by the harassment.

It is important to make a WorkCover claim if your working conditions are making you ill.

Get Legal Advice on the wording of your WorkCover claim.

Do not wait for the union to give you legal support.

It is not going to happen.

Choose your solicitor carefully.

Watch the local TV news. Read the local paper.

Look for a local solicitor who is not afraid to speak out about workplace abuse. 

Make a note of that solicitor's name for future reference.

Pay for one hour with the solicitor. 

Take copies of your basic documents and letters. Plus a brief outline of your case. It will help you think clearly.

While you are talking, evaluate the solicitors behaviour.

You are paying the solicitor a lot of money and he / she should be working for you.

If you feel uneasy about the solicitor's manner or his or her advice, look for another solicitor.


You may find that solicitors are reluctant to get involved in a battle with the public service.

They can see the future.

Public servants have a bottomless pit of taxpayers money.

They can engage the most experienced and expensive legal support.

You are going to run out of money and will spend the rest of your life living in a caravan park.



One Queensland teacher WON a workplace bullying case!

It was won by - 

Mr F. Gouldson and Mr R. Lynch of Gouldson Legal - No Win, No Fee :

On 11, 12 and 13 December 2007 and 1 and 15 February 2008 a workplace bullying case was heard by D.A. Swan, Deputy President of the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission.

An Education Queensland high school LOTE (Japanese) teacher complained that she had been bullied at work.

Mr R. Lynch, Counsel, was instructed by Mr F. Gouldson of Gouldson Legal for the teacher.

Deputy President D. A. Swan stated:


"There has been a continued course of conduct by (the teacher's supervisor)  towards (the teacher) which has been completely unreasonable....  

I uphold the appeal.

I set aside the decision of Q-Comp dated 19 July 2007, and determine that (the LOTE Teacher's) claim for compensation is one for acceptance."


Anthony Massario, Senior Associate, Kennedy Strang Legal Group

has written a useful article on dealing with stress in the workplace, genuine performance reviews and performance management vs disciplinary procedures - 

"Under the Accident Compensation Act 1985, an employee cannot make a WorkCover claim in relation to stress if the stress arises from  ... reasonable management action taken in a reasonable manner ...

(but) if the person conducting the performance review is hostile or intimidating during the performance review,

the employee can argue that the stress was caused by the nature of the behaviour,

and not the review itself,

so the exemption will not apply. ... "

  • Page 2, Health and Aged Care , Winter 2007.


You can find more legal information and the names and contact details of more solicitors on the Get Legal Advice  page of the website and the Teacher Stories page of the website.


* * * * * *

Queensland Working Women's Service

... provide general advice/ information on workplace issues 1800 621 458 

They can also provide counselling and support (not industrial advice) on work-related matters to Queensland women teachers. 

A referral to counselling on problem solving, skills building and strategies to address bullying issues costs $35p/h.

This could be a very good investment at the early stages of a workplace bullying problem.

It could save your career.

The great thing about this service is that it is confidential.

The Bad Apple Bullies will not know that you are seeking the advice of the QWWS and so there is much less chance of your QWWS consultation triggering a pre-emptive strike.

And you will be able to prove that you have been seeking advice on how to deal with your Bad Apple Bully's behaviour.

* * * * * *

Tim Field's website Bully OnLine will help you to understand the Bad Apple Bully's behaviour.

Tim Field explains that workplace bullying follows a common pattern and that workplace bullies have common personality characteristics. 

Tim Field's site is huge and reflects the enormous amount of support that he gave targets of bullying over many years.

When you first find Tim Field's website it is quite a shock to realise that the malicious abuse that you are dealing with at work is not some strange situation that you are dealing with in isolation.

What is happening to you is happening to workers, and to teachers in particular, all over the world.

* * * * * *

The Queensland Teachers' Union ( QTU )

The QTU offers three forms of legal assistance to members.

  • Free legal assistance may or may not be provided to members in matters, both civil and criminal, arising directly from their employment.
  • Subsidised legal assistance may or may not be provided in relation to matters not arising directly from employment but which could have a bearing on employment.
  • Extended legal assistance (i.e. you pay the QTU solicitor for their legal advice) is provided to members for matters which do not fall within the two categories above.

But assistance will not generally be provided when one QTU member is in dispute with another.

Unfortunately, this QTU policy seems to facilitate the workplace abuse of Queensland teachers, because the QTU regard workplace bullying as "a member versus member issue" and will not give legal advice to classroom teachers who are bullied by their school principals.

Many QTU members do not realise that this is the case.

So Department of Education Bad Apple Bullies know that, if they are QTU members, they have a "get out of jail free card".

They can bully you into ill health and out of work, and the union will give you no help.


When you are being bullied at work, QTU organisers will answer one or two questions about Public Service Regulations, etc.

The advice that the QTU organisers give is sound, but at times it is too general to be of real use to you in dealing with your own particular situation.


Overall, the honest advice of QTU organisers seems to be that, based on their experience over many years, the official Grievance processes do not work.

And that "fighting it" - making a Grievance about the abuse - will damage your health.

So - when the Managing Unsatisfactory Performance process is abused by a bully principal, QTU organisers seem to advise teachers to give up any hope of justice and just to "accept the things you cannot change - for the sake of your physical and mental health".

The QTU can seem to become impatient with a classroom teacher who does not agree to allow themselves to be bullied.

* * * * * *

Workplace Mobbing Australia (Black Sheep)

PO Box 2058, Keperra, 4054, Queensland. 


Phone 617 38512435 .

Workplace Mobbing Australia is a voluntary advocacy and support group.

Workplace Mobbing Australia particularly supports administrators who experience "upwards mobbing" (i.e.who are being bullied by a group of "subordinates").


Kenneth Westhues, editor of Workplace Mobbing in Academe : Reports from Twenty Universities, Edwin Mellen Press 2004, has updated his list of links to thirty-two academics who have been dealing with workplace mobbing since 2005.

Reviewing these cases is useful because it helps you to understand the sort of workplace incidents that can trigger mobbing and the different ways that cases of academic mobbing 'play out'.

This link also leads to Kenneth Westhues's home page.

He is a world authority on workplace mobbing in universities.



Some personal grievances - complaints about something corrupt that has been done to you - may also be "whistleblowing".

You "whistleblow" when you complain about something corrupt that is being done to a group of people.

If you decide that you cannot passively "accept the things you cannot change", you may find yourself stepping out of your familiar role as a respectable pillar of the community into the strange other world of the "whistleblower".

You may not realise that this is what you are doing.

You may think that you are doing 'the right thing'.

To you it may appear that, when you explain the facts, the situation will easily be resolved.

But this is not the way that 'the process' works.


Before you make the decision to make a Grievance or to 'whistleblow', take a look at the website of-

Dr Brian Martin, University of Wollongong  

The website will give you an idea of how "the process" works :

Dr Martin suggests ways in which you can deal with the situation effectively.


Even better than his website, Dr Martin's "Whistleblowers Handbook" is written in an easy-to-read style and is hard to put down.

Amazingly good value at $22, this handbook can be posted to you in a few days.

The earlier you read this book, the more effectively you will be able to handle your campaign.


Brian Martin, The Whistleblower's Handbook: How to be an Effective Resister (Charlbury, UK: Jon Carpenter; Sydney: Envirobook, 1999). ISBN 1-897766-52-1 (Jon Carpenter), ISBN 0-85881-167-7 (Envirobook).


Useful websites: 

Bully EQ is an excellent site which deals with the relationship between bullying and emotional intelligence.

Lots of useful links. 


Whistleblowers Australia :  

Whistleblowers Australia can give you advice by phone or email.

Brian Martin says: 

"What Whistleblowers Australia does well is provide advice, information and help in finding useful contacts.

We don't need money for this, just time and energy from knowledgeable, committed individuals. ...

What we need most of all is to get to people before they blow the whistle.

All too many of those who contact us have already spoken out and suffered reprisals.

Some have lost their jobs and more than a few have had their lives destroyed.

If we can prevent just one of these personal catastrophes, it will save more money than WBA's entire budget over the past 15 years.

The benefits will be to the potential whistleblower and to society as a whole.

So, if you want to help, talk about whistleblowing to your friends and acquaintances and encourage them to seek advice before acting."


Membership of Whistleblowers Australia is good value at $25 per year.

The newsletter, The Whistle, is published four times a year.

You can also read The Whistle on Brian Martin's website.

Reading The Whistle will give you a realistic idea of what you can expect from your whistleblowing experience.

It makes pretty shocking reading.


Bullied Academics   

A blog to expose and resist bullying of academics and other staff in Higher Education. 

A very, very interesting blog, full of current information and links.


The Corruption Prevention Network (QLD) : 

The Corruption Prevention Network (QLD) is a non-profit incorporated association whose membership consists of individuals and organisations with a proactive interest in the prevention of fraud and corruption in the public and/or private sectors.

The CPNQ website often has links to useful articles. 

  • The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission 

    Could the Bad Apple Bully be discriminating against you?

    In theory the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission will investigate discrimination on the grounds of race, colour or ethnic origin, racial vilification, sex, sexual harassment, marital status, pregnancy or disability.


    Editor: But, in my experience, many of the HREOC employees are indigenous and (although intelligent and sincere) they seem to find it very hard to believe that a white, middle-class teacher is suffering discrimination.


    Gary and Ruth Namie suggest some strategies that you may be able to use if you are bullied at work.

  • Sheila Freeman Consulting  

    A very  useful site.

    Scroll down to Jean's case study-

  • "I am a 43-year-old primary school teacher in Australia ...

    I transferred to a remote country school some seven years ago.

    I have been teaching for over twelve years, worked for many private companies, and have always received glowing references.

    While at University, I received many letters from the Dean congratulating me on my performance and eventually topped my final year."


    In the experience of Dealing With the Mob, teachers who have good academic records become targets in Queensland.

    However brilliant they may be as teachers, they will always be denigrated by Bad Apple Bullies as "academics".

    QTU activists also seem to denigrate good qualifications. 

    At the QTU AGM you will hear one QTU "activist" after another stating that all teachers are the same and that their educational qualifications make no difference.

    One QTU "activist" claims to have five degrees.

    He claims that none of them made any difference to the quality of his work.

    Which makes as much sense as a greengrocer boasting that eating lots of fruit and vegetables has made no difference to his health.


    "I had never been bullied in the workplace so I had no idea what was going on until I became so ill that I could no longer face going to work." 

  • Sadly, many teachers are such decent people that they simply cannot believe in Bad Apple Bullies.

    Even when they are bullied into ill health retirement, these decent people continue to believe that the situation is a misunderstanding and that, if they can only explain, the problem will be resolved.

    But resolving "the problem" - is not the aim of the Bad Apple Bullies process.

    Driving you into ill health retirement is the point of the process.

    So that you can be replaced with a cheaper, more easily manipulated teacher.


    Research into Teacher Bullying at the University of New England

    During 2007 Australian teachers detailed their experiences of being bullied by parents or senior colleagues in a nationwide survey.

    The University of New England (UNE) launched the online survey in late June and took responses until October 1 2007. 

    UNE professional studies lecturer Dan Riley  lead the study and is working in collaboration with Professor Deirdre Duncan of Australian Catholic University.

    Dan Riley and Deidre Duncan have previously published results from a 2005 survey that revealed 97.5% of Catholic schoolteachers had experienced some form of bullying in their career.

    The survey showed teachers had been bullied most often by school executives, then parents, and followed by principals.

    "While most of the situations experienced were at the lower levels of seriousness, including attempts to undermine or belittle a teacher's work or criticism in front of colleagues, they were serious enough to affect the mental or physical health of some of the respondents," Dr Riley said.

    "It's a bit frightening – we didn't actually expect to find what we did."

    • Teachers asked if they are being bullied, AAP, The Courier-Mail, July 17, 2007
  • Information for Queensland Public Sector Aged Care Employees:

    Silence is not Golden - SING

    Are you a Queensland Health public sector aged care employee?

    Have you ever witnessed abuse, neglect or assault of an older person at your facility?

  • Were you too afraid of reprisal to speak out?

    Do you suffer because you remained silent?

    Have you remained silent because you do not trust the reporting systems?

    Have you ever been threatened, isolated, victimised, ostracised or targeted for speaking out against abuse or neglect?

    I intend to call on the Premier, Anna Bligh, to guarantee protection to any employee willing to speak out.

    I intend to form a support group for staff with the courage, fortitude and integrity to -


    Anonymity and confidentiality is assured.

    You can contact me by email on:

  • Professional Library

    Bully in Sight : How to predict, resist, challenge and combat workplace bullying, Overcoming the silence and denial by which abuse thrives, Tim Field, Success unlimited, 1996.

    Amazon still have copies of this book available.

    You must read this book.

    Tim Field was such a very great man.

    He was a hero of the modern workplace.


    Breaking the Silence

    2003, Corwin Press, available in Australia through Footprint for AUS$55.00 including postage. 

    Joseph and Jo Blase are Professors of Educational Leadership at the University of Georgia.

    They present the results of their research into Principal Mistreatment of Teachers.

    Joseph and Jo Blase have also written a number other books which describe how effective school principals promote teaching and learning.


    Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work , Paul Babiak and Robert D. Hare, ReganBooks, 329pp, $49.95.

    Robert D. Hare is an FBI consultant and designer of the standard diagnostic tool for psychopathy. Hare wrote Without Conscience and now, in conjunction with industrial psychologist Paul Babiak, he has written Snakes in Suits : When Psychopaths Go to Work, a lay guide to corporate psychopaths. Organisations suffering under the mismanagement of such individuals are educated in screening techniques by this book and offered solutions.

    Working with Monsters, how to identify and protect yourself from the workplace psychopath. , Dr John Clarke, Random House, 2005. $22.95.


  • How to contact the editor of this website.

    To contact the editor of this website please email cosser(at)


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