Builder Stephen Graham, 61, is suing his former employer the Aurukun Shire Council for almost $570,000.
Builder Stephen Graham, 61, is suing his former employer the Aurukun Shire Council for almost $570,000.

Tradie sues for $570,000 in bullying claim

A BUILDER who spent 10 months working in Cape York is suing a community's council for almost $570,000, saying he is still haunted by the alleged bullying and assaults that forced him to quit.

Stephen Graham, 61, who worked for Aurukun Shire Council as a building inspector between 2016 and 2017, claims he was the victim of repeated bullying, abuse, and verbal and physical assaults at the hands of council workers.

In documents filed in Cairns Supreme Court, Mr Graham, who now lives on the Gold Coast, argues that the council was aware of the alleged incidents and failed in its duty of care to him.

"I think about it all the time, I still wake up in the middle of the night replaying the events," he said.

"I thought I was doing the right thing going out there to a remote area to progress my career. Now I can't even think straight.

"I enjoy my trade. I wanted to succeed in my career and this has been a huge hit to my confidence and my entire life."

Aurukun is located in Western Cape York
Aurukun is located in Western Cape York

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Among the alleged incidents of violence, Mr Graham claimed he had a hot drink thrown on him by a colleague and was threatened by another colleague wielding a hammer.

The documents also alleged he was verbally abused by two staff because he warned them he would report them after allegedly spotting them in a council vehicle with sly grog in the dry community.

"I have never experienced anything like this in my career," he said. "I was trying to deal with everything on my own in a very isolated place, it was tough.

"There were times when I feared for my life."

A public housing community house with a sign banning alcohol in Aurukun. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE
A public housing community house with a sign banning alcohol in Aurukun. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE

Shine Lawyers solicitor Daniel Hemmings, who is representing Mr Graham, said what his client allegedly experienced was "disgraceful".

"Here we have a qualified builder who moved to a remote community to advance his career only to (allegedly) be so badly bullied, harassed, abused and on two occasions physically assaulted, that he now struggles to leave the house," he said.

Mr Hemmings claimed there had been a "complete failure" by council to protect Mr Graham.

"This is certainly one of the most extreme cases of workplace bullying and harassment I've ever seen," he said.

"Council were aware of what was happening and did nothing to stop it."

The claim, for $569,643.37, is based on past and future economic loss and medical expenses. The council is yet to file any documents in court, and a court date is yet to be set.

Originally published as Tradie sues for $570,000 in bullying claim


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