It's working. The awareness-raising campaign launched by this newspaper to take a stand against bullying in Rotorua.
Stop The Hate articles being run over a few weeks focussing on what bullying looks like, who does it and the serious harm it can do has already been receiving widespread attention.
People are talking about, and sharing, their experiences of being bullied. When you read their stories you start to get a true understanding of how devastating it was for them. Left unattended prolonged bullying can have tragic consequences.
Most of the conversations I had this week have been around workplace bullying. People wanted to tell me of their experiences. I believe it's far more widespread than we think, so I devoted the two hour talkback show on Radio Te Arawa on Friday, that I co-host, to the subject.
Callers agreed it needed to be addressed and wanted information on what they could do about it.
I took a call from a Rotorua man who said his wife was being bullied in her workplace. He said she was employed by the Lakes District Health Board.
For a brief moment I was lost for words. I'm an elected member of the Lakes District Health Board.
Did the caller know that? Should I empathise and move on quickly to the next caller hoping only a few listeners heard who the employer was? No. What you do is carry on the conversation and give the best advice you can.
I suggested that his wife speak to the person she reports to about the bullying she is experiencing. She can't because that person is the bully.
The caller said his wife had regrettably learnt to live with it. This made me very angry.
Not with the caller's wife, who feared what the reaction to her reporting would be.
But that anyone should have to learn to live with bullying at all.
All employers have a legal obligation to provide a safe work environment, and not just a physically safe one. Emotional and psychological safety is part of a safe workplace environment too.
These days most businesses will have a manual of policies and procedures.
Staff can ask to see the manual and look up the complaints process. This should be followed if possible.
But just asking to see the manual can sometimes bring a negative reaction. So what happens when the bully is the person you report to?
My advice to the caller was to get his wife to go straight to the CEO. The bullying had gone on far too long and immediate action was needed.
Every successful CEO I know takes bullying seriously and won't ignore a complaint. If there are any that may choose not to act they are very unwise.
There are enough cases that have been before the courts for them to know that lack of action can cost them dearly.
The CEO can do something about the bullying quickly, but more importantly he will want reassurance from his senior management team that this is an isolated case. And that Lakes District Health Board has a workplace culture that is intolerant to bullying.
I remember in recent years seeing reported that "bullying is rife in our hospitals". In one survey 60 per cent of hospital staff complained of being bullied.
The majority of complaints came from nurses.
It's hard to fathom why our hospitals have this problem and hopefully, in the meantime, DHBs have been proactive in addressing this workplace issue.
If nothing else they should at least continually communicate to staff what bullying behaviour looks like. What they will see and hear if bullying is present.
They should emphasis that all staff can approach senior management, including the CEO, and there is a safe process in place to deal with bullying. That the safe process also has a clear non-victimisation policy.
This is something that often keeps staff from reporting bullying. They believe they will be targeted and victimised. Let staff know what is acceptable and not acceptable behaviour.
No one should have to learn to live with bullying in the workplace.
Bullies exist only in the workplaces where they can get away with it. We can all stop them by acting now. Including my talkback caller and his wife. Kia kaha.