Writer, academic and suicide awareness advocate, Angela Williams has just posted an impassioned plea to her employer, Lifeline South Coast, on YouTube. Her video begs them to do something about the year-long campaign of workplace bullying she has been subjected to.
In this video, which she describes as ‘Maybe my suicide note’, the Team Leader describes how working at Lifeline has driven her to a constant stage of suicidality. Dr Williams posted this video in direct and knowing breach of the letters of demand sent to her by lawyers acting for Lifeline South Coast. The lawyers act for Lifeline in investigating Dr Williams’ December 2017 negative feedback and bullying complaint lodged with the Board.
On 12 January 2018, a spontaneous day of memorial for recent notable bullying and suicide victim, Dolly Everrett, Dr Williams was interviewed by an external investigator, Mr Warren Hart, regarding her experiences in the organisation. On this night, as many Australians paused to think about the impact of bullying, the Chairman of this regional Lifeline board, Mr Stephan Long, made the call to restrict the terms of reference for investigation of Dr Williams’ complaint to a single instance of public bullying. In doing so, he erased a documented and demonstrated pattern of harassment by Dr Williams’ former manager (and current Acting Executive Director) Clare Leslie.
In her video, Dr Williams touches on her experiences throughout the year but her main focus is her attempt yesterday, 16 January 2018, to speak to Lifeline Australia about the actions being taken by her local office of the national suicide intervention provider.
Dr Williams’ video recounts an increasingly surreal day she spent driving interstate and trying to get a response from Lifeline Australia, all while being inundated with threats and notification of disciplinary action from the lawyers. Over several hours, Dr Williams and her partner attempted to contact Lifeline Australia though multiple channels and had police sent to their house by Lifeline’s solicitors. Dr Williams claims she spent the whole drive battling suicidal intentions.
Dr Williams provides links in her video description to documents verifying and supporting her many claims. While clearly very distressed and obviously in need of urgent psychiatric assessment, a point made to her bluntly in correspondence from Lifeline’s solicitors, Dr Williams makes a cutting and precise assessment of the failures by her employer to address her bullying allegations.
As it currently stands, Dr Williams is being investigated by the Board of Lifeline South Coast for breaching retrospective conditions only provided yesterday; taking a former Lifeline Volunteer with her document a necessary visit to Lifeline to retrieve personal paperwork, and ‘speaking to another person’ about this matter, namely: Lifeline Australia.
Dr Williams’ feeling are stated explicitly twice in her forty-five-minute video: “It’s Lifeline saying to me: Don’t cause waves, Angela, we’re busying saving lives. Shut up and go away, Angela. Just kill yourself, Angela.”
The same organisation which exists help save lives, this desperate video claims, is actively supporting a campaign to silence and erase the bullying complaints. Dr Williams pleads with her viewers to intervene, “Don’t let the big people shut me down because the number matters so much – make the number matter again by bringing those at fault to account. Make that number my last option again instead of hospital. Because I’ve used your service, and am in extreme crisis right now. Me being able to keep using that magic number should matter more than shutting me up.”
***Edit: As of 18 January 2018, Dr Williams is being threatened with instant dismissal for first identifying and then bringing to light the serious WHS risks, namely endemic bullying by management, in her Wollongong Lifeline workplace***
Petition posted here https://www.change.org/p/lifeline-take-workplace-bullying-seriously
Lifeline’s Approach to Preventing Suicide is available here https://www.lifeline.org.au/static/uploads/files/lifeline-approach-to-suicide-prevention-wfpgxlqbhdsk.pdf or archived by me here https://drive.google.com/file/d/1JrtIR_AKpAPIF6YRhwHphIMa2SabPNsl/view?usp=sharing