The Crimes Amendment (Bullying) Bill 2011 (Vic) was introduced after Brodie Panlock, a 19 year old Melbourne waitress, was severely bullied at work.  Ms Panlock endured a constant barrage from colleagues, being spat on, called offensive names and on one occasion having oil poured over her.  This systematic bullying continued for several months, and the bullies were numerous.  Tragically as a result of this bullying, Brodie committed suicide in 2006.  Later the offenders and owner of the cafe were convicted of workplace safety charges and fined, however avoided criminal charges given the Crimes Act did not address this issue of bullying. The Crimes Amendment (Bullying Bill 2011 (Vic) has now passed both Houses of the Victorian Parliament, effectively  making it a criminal offence under the Crimes Act to bully another person.  A person responsible for bullying another can now be prosecuted through the criminal courts.  This Bill has been dubbed “Brodie’s Law”.  The introduction of Brodie’s Law has also implemented  changes to the definition of stalking under the Stalking Intervention Orders Act 2008 (Vic) and the Personal Safety Intervention Orders Act 2010 (Vic).

Workplace bullying will now be dealt with under the criminal law process, in contrast to previous matters being dealt with under OH & S Laws.  The definition of “stalking” has been extended to include:

  • Making treats to the victim;
  • Using abusive or offensive words to or in the presence of the victim;
  • Performing abusive or offensive acts towards the victim; and
  • Acting in a way that could reasonably be expected to cause physical or mental harm to the victim.

The definition of “harm” has been extended to include “self harm” and “mental harm”.

The maximum penalty for a stalking offence is now 10 years imprisonment.

 

Author : Julia Schembri of Schembri Lawyers