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Teacher bullying emerges from the staffroom


Brigid Veale
19 November 2007
Teacher bullying, the impacts of climate change on wetlands, surviving cancer and The Chaser’s War on Everything skits will all be the subject of discussion during a thought-provoking conference to be held at Southern Cross University this week.

Now in its sixth year, the Praxis conference is being held for the first time at the University’s Tweed Gold Coast campus on the theme of Eclipsing Diversity and that’s exactly what the program promises to do. Over 50 postgraduate students from across all disciplines will present details of their wide-ranging research during the two-day event hosted by CRUX (the Southern Cross University Postgraduate Association).

Crux secretary Linda Bradbury, herself a PhD candidate with the Department of Nursing and Health Care Practices, says the program illustrates the richness and diversity of research being conducted at Southern Cross University. Her research – on bullying among teachers – will be one of many topics raising eyebrows.

Linda said a survey conducted by the NSW Teachers' Federation in 2006 found that 85 per cent of teachers reported being bullied but there has been little formal research conducted in Australia into workplace bullying in education.

“Mechanisms within our education system perpetuate this destructive and life-threatening form of workplace violence,” Linda said. “Many teachers have reported to me their experience of being bullied and this has been my personal experience in the USA, UK and Australia.

“Adults are being trained in how to teach children about bullying and how to develop strategies to combat bullying, but how effective can teachers be if they are failing to identify this behaviour in themselves? I hope to develop a model to assist in the healing, so that the voices of those teachers who have been bullied can finally be heard.”

Another of the fascinating research projects to be discussed is being undertaken by Lesley Pope, who is exploring the experience of ageing for women over 75 years and how their sense of spirituality and place affects their ageing experience. She plans to interview two groups of women – in Marrickville, Sydney, and within the Great Lakes area of the Mid North Coast of NSW – and seek creative expressions of their senior years through their stories and artwork.

“I’m interested in their experiences of being an older woman and what spirituality, in religious or non-religious terms, means to them and how they experience it,” said Lesley, a student within the School of Health and Human Sciences.

The Praxis conference will be held on 22 and 23 November at Southern Cross University’s Tweed Gold Coast campus. Students from across Australia, the United States, Papua New Guinea and China will participate, with six presenting their research via the web.