Disclosure of a disability as a preventative measure against bullying and/or harassment in the workplace

The 2018 No More Harm National Conference will be held at the Pullman Melbourne on the Park on Thursday 12– Friday 13 April 2018.

Ms Patricia Gray, Higher Degree By Research Student at the Institute For Governance And Policy Analysis joins us at the conference and will discuss ‘Disclosure of a disability as a preventative measure against bullying and/or harassment in the workplace’.

Aim: Does disclosure of a disability have a prevention effect against bullying/harassment? Data from the Australian Public Service is used to discover if disclosure of a disability in the workplace affects not only the experience of bullying/harassment, but types of bullying/harassment behaviours, perceived perpetrators, any action taking, and reporting.

Contents: Data is taken from the 2013 APS Employee Census, a non-compulsory survey administered to every federal public servant. In 2013, there were 102,219 respondents of which 6,774 (6.8%) had a disability. Overall, 16% of all respondents reported being bullied and/or harassed in the last 12 months in the workplace. The percentage of people with a disability who reported being bullied and/or harassed was 29%.

Self-reported disability and bullying/harassment was detailed. However, respondents were asked if their disability was officially recorded on their workplace’s human resource information system. This allowed the separation of disclosed and non-disclosed disability.

Analysis showed that disclosure has no protective effect against perceived bullying/harassment. Disclosure does not affect the perceived perpetrator, the type of bullying/harassment experienced, or any other action that was taken by the respondent. There was an effect on what the respondent thought the reason they were being targeted was.

Reporting behaviour did differ between those who had disclosed their disability and those who had not. Respondents who had disclosed were significantly more likely to report the bullying/harassment behaviour than those who had not disclosed. Disclosure of a disability also affected the reasons why respondents choose not to report the behaviour.

Conclusions: Disclosure of a disability did not have a protective effect against bullying/harassment, however it did influence reporting behaviour.


Patricia is currently studying for her PhD ‘To tell or not to tell? Disability Disclosure in the Australian Public Service’ with the Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis. She has worked in the Australian Public Service for many years and continues to do so while studying.

For more information on the 2018 No More Harm National Conference and to secure your spot please visit www.nomoreharm.com.au