What is Brodie’s Law?
Victoria’s anti-bullying legislation, known as Brodie’s Law, commenced in June 2011 and made serious bullying a crime punishable by up to 10 years in jail.
Brodie’s Law was introduced after the tragic suicide of a young woman, Brodie Panlock, who was subjected to relentless bullying in her workplace.
Brodie’s Law makes serious bullying a criminal offence by extending the application of the stalking provisions in the Crimes Act 1958 to include behaviour that involves serious bullying.
The offence of stalking, and therefore conduct that amounts to serious bullying, carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment.
The introduction of Brodie’s Law means that the criminal justice system is now able to appropriately respond to the most serious examples of bullying in our community. The law ensures certainty in the application of the criminal law to cases of serious bullying
Brodie’s Law has raised awareness in Victoria about the serious nature of bullying and the very damaging consequences it may have. The law sends a strong message that threatening, bullying behaviour - in the workplace and elsewhere throughout the community - will not be tolerated.
Brodie’s Law applies to all forms of serious bullying, including physical bullying, psychological bullying, verbal bullying and cyberbullying.
Brodie’s Law applies to bullying occurring anywhere in the community, such as workplaces, schools, sporting clubs and on the internet including email or social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
Bullying is often characterised by a course of conduct that can include behaviour such as threats and abusive and offensive words or conduct. Serious bullying may also include conduct or behaviour that is intended, or could reasonably be expected, to cause the victim of the bullying to engage in suicidal thoughts or thoughts or actions that involve self-harm.
In September 2006, 19-year-old Brodie Panlock ended her life after enduring ongoing humiliating and intimidating bullying by her co-workers at a café in Hawthorn.
The tragedy of Brodie’s death was compounded by the fact that none of those responsible for bullying Brodie were charged with a serious criminal offence under the Crimes Act 1958. Instead, each offender was convicted and fined under provisions of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
Brodie’s death was a tragic reminder of the serious consequences that bullying can have on victims, their families and the community and illustrated that there were obvious limitations in the law and conduct involving serious bullying should be subject to criminal sanctions.
Watch a video of Brodie’s parents, Damien and Rae Panlock:
Take action early and take responsibility for your own health and wellbeing. Knowing what to do if you are being bullied is important. Make sure you are informed and keep a diary of the bullying behaviour.
Get support from someone you trust. This person may be a supervisor or manager, teacher, GP, parent, health and safety representative or a local police officer.
Do your research, find out what bullying is and the types of behaviours that are associated with bullying.
If it is bullying in the workplace, find out what policies your workplace has and what your workplace should be doing to deal with bullying.
If the bullying is by phone or internet, advise your service provider.
Report to police all bullying that includes serious threats to your safety or life.
Anyone who needs crisis support can call Lifeline (24 hours a day) on 13 11 14, visit the Lifeline website (External link) or contact local police.
Watch a video of Evelyn Field, a psychologist who specialises in workplace bullying about the steps you can take if you are being bullied:
Don’t be a passive bystander to bullying – take action without putting your own health and wellbeing at risk.
Don’t take part in or encourage bullying.
Support the person who is being bullied to ask for help. You could go with them to a place they can get help or provide them with information about where to go for help.
Report bullying to someone in authority or someone you trust. If others know what is going on, report it as a group.
Promote Brodie's Law in your workplace, local community or place of study
Find more information about how to support the campaign at the Brodie's Law Foundation (External link)
Take a stand against bullying
View a video from the 2011 campaign to promote Brodie's Law and awareness about bullying.