Workplace bullying and restorative justice – how to help the families left behind
Mar 16, 2010
A feature article on workplace bullying in The Age newspaper on 10 March 2010 has the additional or secondary benefit of again raising the relevance of “restorative justice” to the issue of occupational safety and health.
The main element of the article is the McGregor family who had two children commit suicide over related issues. The son, Stuart McGregor, described as being chronically depressed, was being bullied at work. He confided in his sister, Angela McGregor, over the issues. Angela had been bullied at school. [Angela] killed herself. A month later, Stuart followed.
WorkSafe investigated the bullying at Stuart’s place of work, substantiated Stuart’s claims are is determining what further action to take. The newspaper reports that there may be insufficient evidence to pursue the case through the Courts.
What the reporter, Helen Westerman, does is to relate the grief and hurt of the parents to the potential benefits of the application of “restorative justice” in workplace incidents. Melbourne research into the application of restorative justice in workplaces is being led by John Bottomley of the Creative Ministries Network. In 2009, Bottomley released several reports into the concept’s application at an event that SafetyAtWorkBlog was privileged to attend.
....In some ways, the ombudsman system, various commissions, and even the coronial system, already provide forms of restoration to mistreated citizens but restorative justice seems to be the unifying concept for injured and ill people, and those with “secondary illness” such as family, who need to regain some dignity and respect for themselves and their loved ones.
Bottomley is quoted as saying
”Part of the restoration may be the reputation of the person who died, so they are not remembered only in terms of a traumatic death but what they achieved in their life…”
Bottomley and his team need as much support as can be given to provide a framework that prevents the type of grief that the McGregor’s continue to face.