State must act on bullies
SELDOM has the Geelong Advertiser had on its front page stories about the same subject four days in a row.
The vagaries of news dictates most days the previous front page bears no resemblance to that which has gone before.
But for four days now, this newspaper has carried front pages on bullying inside City Hall.
And we have done this because this is of vital significance to the city and the community we serve.
Local government and City of Greater Geelong is the most prominent sphere of government in the daily life of this city.
And what happens inside that council, how it runs, how it treats its staff and how those inside treat each other matters.
And our revelations about the extent of bullying inside City Hall indicates this peak local organisation is fundamentally flawed.
Whether it is fatally flawed remains to be seen.
But beyond the importance of telling this community what is happening inside City Hall, there is an even greater reason for publishing these stories.
Many members of this community are having their lives damaged or even destroyed by the actions of others inside City Hall, by bullying inside City Hall.
Every day the toll of bullying inside City Hall is growing.
Every day more and more people are reaching out to this newspaper to tell their stories of bullying.
They want to be heard and they must be heard.
These victims must not be silenced, they must have a platform to speak of what has happened.
One such voice is that of Graham Hood who today speaks of his broken life, he says, because of continuous bullying at City Hall.
To read his words today, one cannot help but feel enormous sadness and pain for what this man’s life has become.
Mr Hood, a grandfather, should not have his life reduced to this state. He deserves better. And Mr Hood is only one of the many people employed by City Hall who have been telling us he has been bullied.
We are receiving many calls.
This is an issue that not only raises serious concerns about conduct inside our council, it is also is on the brink of becoming a community health issue.
And the bullying cannot be allowed to happen any more. It must end. Bullying is the most insidious, gutless, soul destroying practice that not only takes people’s happiness — it can take their lives. Those that bully are weak, sick and truly abhorrent.
And those inside council that bully must be brought to account.
And the organisation must cut this cancer out.
Yesterday we said in this space that the only way for this to happen was for a State Government investigation, not a council investigation.
Today our call is supported by former Mayor Keith Fagg who has seen bullying up close at City Hall.
And, as new Local Government Minister Natalie Hutchins is in our city today, we say very clearly: “You need to have the State Government investigate this. You cannot let the bullies win.’’