Geelong Advertiser




COUNCIL engineer Graham Hood has spoken of the two years of bullying he suffered at the City of Greater Geelong that started on his first day and has left him unable to work.

A COUNCIL engineer fighting City Hall for compensati­on says he became so depressed by workplace bullying he lost 35kg and tried to walk into the ocean fully clothed.

Point Lonsdale grandfathe­r Graham Hood alleged he was bullied from his first day of work at the City of Greater Geelong in 2012 and had endured a campaign of bullying until being diagnosed with severe depression and told to stop work by his doctor in March last year.

“The first incident happened on day one,” Mr Hood said.

“I walked in to work wearing smart shoes, a shirt and tie and I was told, ‘ you don’t wear those f---ing things, meaning ties, in here. If you don’t get it off by lunch we’ll cut it off’.”

In more than four decades working for municipal councils across Australia, he said he had never experience­d a work environmen­t like that he encountere­d at the City of Greater Geelong, which he described as “a toxic boys’ club”.

Mr Hood will put his allegation­s to a magistrate’s court directions hearing next month as part of a WorkCover claim seeking compensati­on from the City of Greater Geelong for past and future lost wages.

He told the Geelong Advertiser he was a shell of his former self as a result of the bullying and was no longer able to function at home, let alone work.

“I was bullied for two years because I wasn’t from Geelong,” he said.

“Now I’m on that many pills to try to get myself to sleep and try to calm myself down. Not long ago, I thought I’d go down the street and buy a coffee to have on the foreshore. The next thing I walked out into the water, fully clothed.

“I don’t know why I did it. Everything — from when I went to bloody Geelong — just seems to be a void. I’ve lost a lot of weight. I’m still big but I’ve lost a lot. About 35kg in six months. My wife thought I had cancer.”

Bernadette Hood said there were mornings she feared she would find her husband dead in his bed.

“Sometimes, given the way he went to bed, I’m sure he’s not going to wake up in the morning. That he’ll have a stroke or a heart attack or something overnight,” Mrs Hood said.

She said she also feared her husband would again try to walk into the ocean, or mistake the car accelerato­r for the brake as he did earlier this week.

Mrs Hood said she had feelings of anger and frustratio­n in relation to her husband’s severe depression.

It was hard to come home from work and find her formerly vibrant husband lying on the couch, “doing absolutely nothing”, day after day, she said.

Even their six-year-old grandson had noticed Grandpa was “not right”, she said. “It’s very hard to watch and there are times I feel like I can’t put up with it any more,” she said. “Now we’re fighting City Hall for some justice.”

A lawyer for Mr Hood, Joseph Ridley, from Arnold Thomas & Becker, said his client would allege he had been the victim of sustained bullying from his superiors while employed at Geelong council and the target of abuse ranging from verbal insults to accusation­s of dishonesty from staff members.

Those accusation­s were later recanted, Mr Ridley said, but had left his client damaged.

“This type of behaviour in any workplace can be the cause of psychiatri­c injury from which a civil claim against an employer can arise,” Mr Ridley said.

“My client has sustained significan­t psychiatri­c injury as a result of his employment at the Geelong City Council. It has had a devastatin­g effect on his life to the extent that he cannot return to any employment for the foreseeabl­e future.”

The City of Greater Geelong said it could not comment. To discuss suicide or depression, contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636, or the Suicide Call Back Service at suicidecal­lbackservi­

 ?? Picture:
FERGUSON ?? City of Greater Geelong engineer Graham
Picture: GLENN FERGUSON City of Greater Geelong engineer Graham Hood.
 ??  ??
 ??  ??
 ?? Picture: GLENN
FERGUSON ?? Graham Hood is taking legal action against the City of Greater Geelong over bullying in the workplace.
Picture: GLENN FERGUSON Graham Hood is taking legal action against the City of Greater Geelong over bullying in the workplace.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia