Bullying, Harassment, Discrimination, Misconduct in VICSES

While serving as a VICSES volunteer or staff member, have you experienced issues such as bullying, sexual harassment, discrimination, poor behaviour, cultural problems, unsatisfactory dispute or misconduct processes?

You may have been the target of bullying, or you may have witnessed bullying against someone else. You may have been the subject of a complaint, or have been the complainant. You may have been a witness or a whistleblower. We want to hear about what happened to you.

The survey is divided into various sections. You may answer all questions that are relevant to your circumstances. There may be more than one answer you wish to give; tick all that are applicable to you. There are text boxes for adding any additional statements.


Who is running this survey?

This survey has been commissioned by volunteers and staff representatives through the Victoria SES Volunteers Association (VIcSESVA) and the staff Union (CPSU) after multiple requests from their members. The survey seeks to hear directly from volunteers and staff about their experiences, in order to advocate for improvements.

Will VICSES know who I am?

No, the survey is completely anonymous and no identifying details will be collated or disclosed. Participants can provide frank and honest responses without fear of reprisals.

Who can complete this survey?

Any currently serving VICSES volunteer or staff member, or any past volunteer or staff member.

Why this survey, now?

VICSES is currently reviewing its regulations; this survey may provide relevant and timely information on how internal culture, behaviour, misconduct processes and dispute resolution is experienced by volunteers and staff.


  • Bullying is offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through actions intended to undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the target.
  • Workplace bullying is verbal, physical, social or psychological abuse by your employer or manager, another person or group of people at work (Worksafe). Workplace bullying is repeated, unreasonable behaviour directed at an employee or group of employees that creates a risk to health and safety. Unreasonable behaviour does not include reasonable management action, such as discussions about work performance, as long as they are taken in a reasonable way. (Safe Work Australia Guide for Preventing and Responding to Workplace Bullying, Safe Work Australia, 2013).
  • Harassment is unwanted behaviour that intimidates, offends or humiliates a person. It may target personal characteristics such as race, age, gender, disability, religion or sexuality. Harassment may be persistent or an isolated incident. It can include being sworn or yelled at in the workplace, being threatened or even physically assaulted.

NOTE: bullying is repeated, whereas harassment can be experienced in a single incident.

  • Sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature which makes a person feel offended, humiliated or intimidated, where that reaction is reasonable in the circumstances [1]. It can include unwelcome hugging, kissing or other types of inappropriate physical contact, staring or leering, intrusive questions about your private life or physical appearance, unwanted invitations to go out on dates, requests for sex, or sexually explicit emails, calls, text messages or online interactions. Sexual harassment includes behaviour that makes the environment you are working in uncomfortable or threatening in a sexually hostile way, such as sexually offensive pictures or a culture of suggestive comments or jokes (Safe Work Australia).
  • Misconduct is any other form of inappropriate behaviour between or towards individuals which contravenes the values and codes of conduct of the organisation.
  • Discrimination is treating a person or group of people less favourably because of their characteristics, such as age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation.
  • Line manager or supervisor: if you are a staff member, you will be aware who your line manager is. For volunteers, your ‘line manager’ or direct supervisor may be your Controller or Deputy Controller. For Controllers, your Line Manager is the Regional Manager.
  • Worker: for the purposes of this survey, both volunteers and paid staff are all considered ‘workers’ in VICSES, if no other differentiation is given. Similarly, the SES ‘workplace’ is wherever work is conducted for paid employees (e.g. offices), or volunteers (e.g. the Unit LHQ or any other location where work is carried out).

[1] The Guide: Preventing workplace sexual harassment defines sexual harassment as any unwelcome sexual advance, unwelcome request for sexual favours or other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature in circumstances where a reasonable person, having regard to all the circumstances, would anticipate the possibility that the person harassed would be offended, humiliated or intimidated. Legal definitions of ‘sexual harassment’ may vary in each state and territory.