Hello to our rapidly increasing fold,
Lovely to have over a thousand new supporters since the trip down to Canberra. And all that without me doing much at all.
Yesterday I answered one of the most heartbreaking comments I’ve gotten in this whole nightmare. A person asked me who they call if they can’t call Lifeline. Call Lifeline, I said, call them right now if you need to talk.
Because, as l keep trying to scream, that number needs to be there for everyone who needs to call it, everytime they need to call it.
I think I mentioned this back in my first version of this petition – I called Lifeline several times over a few weeks about 6 months before starting work for them. One of those calls went unanswered. That unanswered call was the reason I applied for the job, I thought that my effort and passion could help keep that vital number staffed.
And it could have.
If I’d been working in a safe and supportive environment.
Too many calls to that number go unanswered because of ‘resource shortfalls’ and Lifeline’s biggest resource is its people. Too many people have walked away from working at Lifeline (paid and volunteer) with stories shockingly similar to mine.
Killing Lifeline’s bullying culture dead will prevent the loss of workers, negative word of mouth publicity they carry and, most importantly, cut down on people needing to ‘get over’ working for Lifeline.
Each new person who has told me their sad story of bullying in Lifeline (or other charities) has added to the need for this petition, the need for Lifeline Australia to oversee this vital operational aspect across their ‘brand’.
The bullying rampant in charity workplaces needs to stop. As Australia’s ‘experts’ on preventing suicide, Lifeline needs to see the opportunity this crisis presents and act now to standardise best-practice anti-bullying procedures and whistleblower protections across the nation.
The current system where individual Lifelines cherry-pick from a collection of Lifeline Australia, Uniting Church and ‘organisationally tailored’ policies is obviously not working. A bullying and harassment policy which allows ‘managerial prerogative’ cannot work when a small group of people make all the other policies and share management of all staff.
My situation would have been radically alerted if former Executive Director (and Clare’s manager) Grahame Gould had responded differently to my written request for a review in April 2017. His phone-it-in response, ‘It’s all Clare’s call,’ accidentally revealed to me the actual mechanics of the power at work here. Which is never a good idea.
By the time Clare called me over during my meal break at the October 2017 Big Book Fair to point out Grahame on his phone, I already knew she was the real boss of the organisation.
When she leaned over to point at him, however, I was still surprised by what came out of her mouth:
‘Look at that f**king idiot! I’ve told him to stay off his phone while he’s on the floor – doesn’t he know the public is always watching?’
Yep, the public is always watching. Particularly now.
I forgot to tell the Insurance Investigator that story but there was a lot going on that weekend. (Like that stupid Keep Sort Review, or as I described it to the real independent investigator, ‘a ridiculous task, formerly done with a forklift, that was impossible to complete without breaching the Event Risk Assessment constantly’.)
This investigator listened very carefully and wrote down what I actually said instead of the version of my story that best suited Lifeline. See, Warren, that’s what a ‘professional’ does. She put that whole bit about the Keep Sort in bold.
She also put in bold the story about my first managerial handling of a Code of Conduct breach and how Clare coached me for this. Even though my last community services job ended with sexual harassment targeting me, Clare directed the following:
(She could do it for me, but:) ‘ if you want the job you have to handle this stuff eventually’;
l had to meet with him alone (another person was ‘escalating’);
‘Be careful’ (Because we’ve had these complaints about him before), and
‘There are no records, just send me an email’.
My Code of Conduct training was: read it then enforce it.
Can you see how l forgot about Clare calling Grahame nasty names?
I also applied for Centrelink this week. That was sexy and exciting. It’s been like nearly eight years since we broke up. Silly me thinking all that education could do anything to break the cycle of poverty.
Sigh. I really am giving up on ‘giving back’ (https://angelajwilliams.me/2017/07/15/when-overtime-is-giving-back/). I’ve given back.
Sorry, got a bit down there.
This week has been a downer in lots of ways but the skyrocketing numbers here have been a real boost.
Please keep sharing this, we can get them to act!
And to that person who commented on my page: l hope you called and your call was answered. You are important and valuable and you matter. You are more loved and supported than you can imagine.
I’ve made a safe space group on Facebook called The Basketweavers Club for talking about trauma and mental illness and how we can use creative practice and hobbies to self-soothe. You can find us here https://www.facebook.com/groups/BasketWeaversClub/ if you’d like to swing by.
This is not (just) a group about basket weaving.
This online stitch and bitch is an experiment in peer-led mental health support focused on selecting the positive strands of our experiences.
Thanks again for all the love. Sorry if things got a bit stream-of-consciousness, probably that whole mental health crisis thing.
Post originally appeared at https://www.change.org/p/lifeline-take-workplace-bullying-seriously/u/22394198