Victims of workplace bullying will be able to go to Fair Work Australia to seek an order preventing the offender from continuing to harass or intimidate.
At the launch of Bully Free Australia Foundation at Essendon Fields on Saturday, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Bill Shorten announced the new bill will be introduced to the House of Representatives next week.
He said the new laws would “make [bullying] a problem that is dealt with by workplace laws for the first time ever”.
The new provision will come into effect on July 1.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard said bullying victims would be able to have their complaints heard “quickly and affordably”, with the focus of the investigations being to stop bullying before it “goes too far”.
She said the government was “determined” to join the growing movement to stop bullying in schools and workplaces.
In 2012, more than 2500 people committed suicide in Australia, including 450 children. In more than 80 per cent of cases, bullying was a contributing factor.
In July, Melbourne will host a national anti-bullying forum for legal and education experts focusing on young people facing bullying.
A Productivity Commission report into workplace bullying estimated it cost the national economy between $6 billion and $36 billion annually due to lost productivity.
Alannah and Madeline Foundation CEO Judith Slocombe used the third annual National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence to call on the states and territories to introduce consistent anti-bullying laws.
On Friday, the state government launched a $4 million anti-bullying campaign asking students to sign a pledge to stamp out bullying in schools. The Bully Stoppers campaign includes grants for up to 200 schools to introduce their own anti-bullying programs.
Brothers Ross and Darren Bark, who created a short film and educational program about bullying called Best Enemies, have joined with the Bully Free Australia Foundation to promote the cause.
Ross Bark said their workshops and the work of the foundation are designed to “prevent these horrible circumstances of bullying from happening to begin with rather than waiting for them to occur and picking up the pieces. That is too late – the damage is done, and we are saying enough is enough”.