Q: Please tell us a little about yourself, your occupation, and what a day at work looks like for you?
A: My name is Renaye. I love food and wine, hiking and being outdoors, and exploring new places. I identify as being part of the LGBTIQ+ community, I am the Shine Co – Chair (Shine is the LGBTIQ+ Network within my organisation), and I mentor for Out For Australia. I am a workforce transformation consultant and I collaborate with the Australian Government to get the best out of their workforces. My job involves working with clients to solve complex people problems. This takes a lot of great communication skills, team work, problem solving, and creativity. I really love working together to find opportunities.

Q: Before working in your field, what preconceived ideas did you have surrounding bullying?
A: My ideas were probably based in my previous career as a chef with over 10 years experience working in hospitality. Bullying in hospitality is really easily recognisable - people will call you names, be threatening, and sometimes quite violent. This is broadly accepted because of the 'high stress' environment, and is often (unfairly) washed over by both the bully and the organisation.

Q: How have your thoughts changed?
A: Since developing a professional career in both the public and private sector, I have noticed that bullies still exist within the workplace, but the way people are bullied is different. Bullying in the professional setting is a lot more insidious, and often is really hard to pinpoint. In my experience in the public sector, some departments allow bullies to thrive, as bullies are seen to be getting stuff done - meanwhile the people around them leave in droves.

I have noticed a shift when moving to the private sector. Bullying is still there, but people are empowered to call it out and organisations are working with people to stop or change the behaviour.

Q: In your opinion, what connects schoolyard bullying to adulthood? What are the consequences to that connection?
A: In my opinion, schoolyard bullying and adulthood bullying are both about the bully projecting their insecurities or biases on the person being bullied - and unfortunately, the consequences are the same. The person being bullied is left feeling they are the problem, that there is something wrong with them, and they ultimately come to feel isolated and alone.

The LGBTIQ+ community overwhelmingly struggles with both bullying in schools and harassment in the workplace. A study in 2021 of students aged 13-18 at government, independent, and Catholic high schools across Australia found more than 90% of LGBTQ+ students hear homophobic language at school. According to the Australian Workplace Equality Index (2022), the rate at which individuals are able to bring their whole selves to work is still dropping despite efforts to boost LGBTQ+ workplace inclusion practices. People are literally going back into the closet because they are being bullied or feel unsafe at work.

Q: What would you say to your younger self if she was being bullied?
A: I would say them, you are not alone and you are allowed to feel hurt. Please tell someone - tell your teacher, or parent, or counsellor. And lastly, what they are saying is not you - you are a wealth of greatness, and they are too narrow minded to see that.

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