Brodie's Law (Act): History
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Brodie's Law is an amendment to the Victorian Crimes Act 1958 which makes serious bullying an offence punishable by a maximum penalty of 10 years' imprisonment. The law is named after Brodie Panlock, a 19-year-old who committed suicide after being bullied at work. Brodie's parents, Damien and Rae Panlock, successfully lobbied the Victorian Government to make the amendment.

  • bullying
  • brodie
  • imprisonment

1. Brodie Panlock

Brodie Rae Constance Panlock grew up in the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne in the Australia n state of Victoria with her parents and two older brothers.[1][2] In early 2005, at the age of 18, Brodie started working at Cafe Vamp in Hawthorn an inner suburb of Melbourne.[1][2] In March 2006, shortly after her 19th birthday, Brodie moved to a small flat in Hawthorn to be closer to work. Cafe Vamp helped Brodie with references and lent her the bond money for the flat.[2][3] She worked 12 hours a day, 6 days a week[3][4]:5 & 6 and was described as a "loyal employee" and "buoyant, chirpy, compassionate, patient, giving girl" by co-workers.[2] Panlock had plans to save enough money to travel overseas with her brother and his girlfriend before enrolling at TAFE to study social work.[2][3]

Shortly after 11:00pm on 20 September 2006 Brodie jumped from the top of a multilevel carpark in Hawthorn and died from her injuries in The Alfred Hospital three days later.[2]

1.1. Bullying

Panlock became involved in an intermittent intimate relationship with the cafe manager Nicholas Smallwood in the fifteen months leading up to her death.[2][5][6] Panlock became infatuated with Smallwood, but the attention was not returned.[5]

In the last few months Panlock's relationship with Smallwood became unhealthy, according to Coroner Peter White, who found that Smallwood and others "systematically bullied her, both physically and emotionally".[6] Smallwood, fellow waiter Rhys MacAlpine and, to a lesser extent, chef Gabriel Toomey,[5] called her names, told her she was fat, ugly and a whore.[1] They kicked and spat on her, held her down and poured oil on her hair and clothes, covered her in chocolate sauce and filled her kit bag with fish oil. Other employees intervened without effect,[1] and the cafe owner Marcus Dela Cruz turned a blind eye to the behaviour.

In May 2006 after being kicked out of Smallwood's apartment, Panlock took rat poison and alcohol in a suicide attempt. Smallwood later taunted Panlock that she could not do it properly, and put rat poison in her handbag.[1][2][5][7]

1.2. Final Days

On 20 September 2006, Smallwood left her flat after Panlock had begged him to stay. She called a former school friend Ashlea Cooper, who gave evidence to the inquest. Cooper recalled that Panlock "cried hysterically" and felt that she had made a fool of herself, saying:

How embarrassing ... I want to die. Ash, it is over. I have had enough. It's over.[2]

Shortly after 11:00pm on 20 September 2006, Brodie jumped from the top of a multilevel carpark in Hawthorn; she died from her injuries in The Alfred Hospital three days later.[2]

1.3. Penalty

Four men and MAP Foundation, the company that owned Cafe Vamp, were charged with offences under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 for their part in bullying Panlock. They pleaded guilty to the charges on 8 February 2010, at the Melbourne Magistrates' Court. They were ordered to pay $335,000 in fines as follows:[4][7]

  • MAP Foundation – $220,000
  • Marcus Dela Cruz – $30,000
  • Nicholas Smallwood – $45,000
  • Rhys MacAlpine – $30,000
  • Gabriel Toomey – $10,000

2. Law Reform

2.1. Victoria

Brodie Panlock's parents Damien and Rae Panlock successfully lobbied the Victorian Government to make changes to the law to include serious bullying as an offence punishable by imprisonment.[8][9][10]

On 4 November 2010 the Victorian Attorney-General asked the Victorian Law Reform Commission to review the adequacy of Victoria's criminal laws in dealing with serious bullying. The request was made to ensure that perpetrators of serious bullying receive appropriate sanction under Victoria's criminal law.[11] On 5 April 2011, the Attorney-General introduced the Crimes Amendment (Bullying) Bill 2011 to Parliament, which amended the offence of stalking under section 21 of the Crimes Act 1958, to include serious bullying as a crime carrying a maximum penalty of ten years.[12] The Bill received royal assent on 7 June 2011,[13] and commenced immediately; it is colloquially known as "Brodie's Law".[14][15]

In the five years since the law's proclamation on 16 June 2011, fifty-eight offenders were charged with 140 offences against Brodie's Law.[16][17][18]

2.2. National

The Victoria Attorney-General Robert Clark announced that Brodie's Law would be discussed at the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General in November 2011.[8]

The response by the Victorian government was backed by the Federal Assistant Treasurer, Bill Shorten. In September 2011 the New South Wales Government was examining the Victorian legislation.[8]

Damien and Rae Panlock continued to lobby the federal government because they feared that the states would fail to agree on the matter. On 26 May 2012, they met with Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and Bill Shorten, now Minister for Workplace Relations, and made a joint announcement of a national parliamentary inquiry into bullying.[8][19] The report was released on 25 November 2012, and "contained 23 recommendations including the adoption of a new national definition of 'workplace bullying', a workplace bullying 'hotline' and a legislative and regulatory framework."[9] In response to the recommendations the Federal Parliament passed the Fair Work Amendment Act 2013 which gave the Fair Work Commission jurisdiction to hear and resolve "a workplace incidence of bullying".[20]

3. Brodie's Law Foundation

In late 2012, Damien and Rae Panlock toured Victoria, using the first anniversary of the introduction of Brodie's Law to raise awareness about bullying.[21]

Damien and Rae Panlock continue to tour Australia and speak in workplaces and at public events, to campaign against bullying.[21][22][23][24][25] The foundation assists with education in workplaces, schools and sporting clubs, with speaking engagements and production of education packages for teachers, club members, employers, and employees.

In February 2017, Brodie's Law Foundation was formed and registered as a charity.[26][27]

The content is sourced from:


  1. Caldwell, Alison (9 February 2010). "Suicide waitress 'driven to the edge and pushed'". 
  2. Butcher, Steve (9 December 2009). "Brodie's Torment". 
  3. Murphy, Patrick (13 February 2010). "Brodie Panlock's parents Damien and Rae share their pain". 
  4. Ross, Catriona Dr.; Delacorn, Adam. "Research Brief Crimes Amendment (Bullying) Bill 2011". Library, Department of Parliamentary Services, Parliament of Victoria. 
  5. Butcher, Steve (9 February 2010). "When Darkness Comes". 
  6. Butcher, Steve (11 December 2009). "Four men face charges over teen's suicide". 
  7. "Men who tormented suicide waitress Brodie Panlock fined". 
  8. "Jail terms for bullies put on table". 8 September 2011. 
  9. "Call for Government Intervention on Workplace Bullying". 28 November 2012. 
  10. Butcher, Steve (31 May 2011). "Brodie's law to get workplace bullies". St Gearge & Sutherland Shire Leader. 
  11. "Bullying reference announced". 4 November 2010. 
  12. "Serious bullying reference withdrawn". 27 April 2011. 
  13. "Crimes Amendment (Bullying) Bill 2011". June 2011.!OpenDocument. 
  14. Longmore, Justine (31 May 2011). "Parliament set to pass brodie's law on bullying". 
  15. "Brodie's Law". 7 July 2017. 
  16. Ashton, Graham (16 June 2016). "BRODIE'S LAW - FIVE YEARS ON". 
  17. Toscano, Nick. "Woolworths worker's suicide sparks call for inquest". 
  18. Moor, Keith (15 June 2016). "Almost 60 people charged with bullying offences since Brodie’s Law introduced in Victoria". "Mr Ashton said it was a disturbing indication of the level of workplace and cyber bullying that as many as 58 offenders had been charged under Brodie’s Law since it began operating in June 2011" 
  19. "Transcript of joint doorstop interview, Melbourne". 26 May 2012. 
  20. Shorten, Bill (19 July 2013). Bullying, Young People and the Law Symposium (Speech). Archived from the original on 26 August 2017. Retrieved 26 August 2017. Unknown parameter |dead-url= ignored (|url-status= suggested) (help)
  21. Carroll, Sharni (28 September 2012). "Call to rally against 'serious crime'of bullying". 
  22. "New partnerships aim to stop bullies in their tracks". 8 June 2016. 
  23. Wight, Nikki (13 May 2015). "HSR WHS Conference final report" (pdf). 
  24. "Delegates meeting: Fri 20th June, 2014 9.30am". 11 June 2014. 
  25. "The Foundation". 
  26. "Brodie's Law Foundation Limited". 
  27. "Current details for ABN 69 617 515 358". 
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