Archive for June, 2012

Changes to comment requirements

Posted on June 18, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized |

After consultation within the group it was decided to remove the requirement to supply a name and address for the posting of comments.  Comments however will be moderated and examined prior to publication to ensure that libelous or defamatory remarks are not posted on this site.

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Calling for Submissions – Parliamentary Inquiry into Workplace Bullying

Posted on June 18, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized |

We are currently putting together a submission for the Parliamentary Inquiry into Workplace Bullying announced by the Prime Minister on the 26th of May 2012.  If you would like to contribute to the submission, please email us at

Submissions can be provided either confidentially (unpublished) or for inclusion in the main document which the Parliament may choose to publish or reference in its findings.

Additionally, if you would prefer to provide your story anonymously, you can do so by leaving a comment or feedback on this website or through the use of an anonymous email address. (Gmail/Hotmail/Yahoo addresses etc. can be created quickly and discretely if you feel uncomfortable using your personal email.)

As submissions close on the 29th of June, we’d appreciate any input you may wish to have included provided to us prior to this date.

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Dr Warwick Raverty: Many acts of bullying and intimidation in CSIRO

Posted on June 15, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized |

The following article was published in the Tasmanian Times today.  We are extremely grateful for such a strong show of public support from Dr Raverty.  Thanks Warwick!


Dr Warwick Raverty: Many acts of bullying and intimidation in CSIRO

(Dr) Warwick Raverty Clayton South, Vic. Former member, RPDC Panel. Pic: of Dr Raverty
15.06.12 4:46 am

Dr Warwick Raverty speaks at a pulp mill rally. Picture: Dave Groves,

The Victims Of CSIRO group was formed in mid-2011 as a result of conversations between a number of former CSIRO employees who all shared common experiences of bullying, harassment and/or coercive behaviour whilst employees of the CSIRO.

It soon became apparent from the large body of information between the former employees that this was a significant issue requiring a coordinated approach to address effectively.

A number of our members have previously approached CSIRO at both Senior Executive and Board level to address these issues without success.

I was one of the senior scientists who witnessed many acts of bullying and intimidation over eight years of my nine year career with the CSIRO.

As someone who had been trained in modern senior management techniques at Columbia University in New York and spent the previous 20 years in a very well-run public company, I was appalled at the way in which bullying and cronyism developed in the senior management of CSIRO Forestry and Forest Products when the Chief of the division resigned in 2000.

The people who were appointed to replace the former Chief were either incompetent, or had no interest in the morale of the scientific staff.

I soon found myself spending a fair amount of my time counselling not only my own research staff, but also the staff of other middle managers in the division who were frequently bullied and treated with complete lack of respect by deputies of the various chiefs that were appointed between 2001 and 2009.

One of the worst aspects was that a senior manager with formal responsibility for ensuring that all staff were treated with respect in accord with official CSIRO policy had no relevant formal tertiary training and was part of the bullying clique that developed at the top of the division during those years.

One of the mission statements of CSIRO talks about the organisation providing technological benefits to Australian society and to the environment, but I found as the years passed that these became just empty words and that CSIRO was far more focussed on extracting research funds from companies, no matter what the ethical standards or environmental bona fides of the companies with which it engaged.

I was officially disciplined for ‘breaching CSIRO confidentiality’ and ‘insubordination’ following my decision to exercise my democratic right to support the community of the Tamar Valley in opposing the corrupt Pulp Mill Approval Act and Gunns’ planned bleached kraft pulp mill at Long Reach on sound environmental grounds.

My ‘crime’ was to publicly name and shame Les Baker for having telephoned someone on the CSIRO Executive on the day of the TAP Public Meeting in the Congregational Church in Launceston in an attempt to prevent me speaking out as a private citizen while on annual leave.

My boss at the time had even telephoned my wife without my permission prior to the meeting and tried to get her to stop me speaking out on the topic of ‘Right Mill, Wrong Location’ by suggesting that Gunns were well known for SLAPP suits and that my public speaking would inevitably result in a SLAPP suit against me and that ‘we could lose our home’ as a result.

Fortunately my boss also mentioned Les Baker’s name to my wife at which point that information entered the public domain, but that defence was completely disregarded in the kangaroo court that was convened by CSIRO to try and limit any further embarrassment to the Organisation.

My boss’ boss even accused me (in writing) of putting the interests of the Tamar Valley community before my duties as a CSIRO officer,  as if being an ethical community-minded scientist was considered some sort of crime in CSIRO.

That ‘official warning’ letter was ‘the last straw’ as far as I was concerned.

CSIRO had changed from the organisation that I joined in 2000 – one that placed equal emphasis on providing good science for industry, society and the environment, to one that was almost solely focussed on the holey dollar from industry, no matter how ethically, or unethically obtained.

I resigned from CSIRO in March 2009 and in my letter of resignation that I circulated to many senior staff annd colleagues at the time, I said:

• “A steady stream of Insight Surveys over the last 5 years has highlighted an everwidening gap between … scientists and … [the] extraordinarily large number of CSIRO administrators who seem to me … to be a very long way from … the finest in the land”

• “any organisation that loses the ability to retain its best and brightest is in serious trouble”

• “CSIRO has become so bureaucratic … so dysfunctional, that I no longer see my employment as … an effective solution to the problems of Australia”

Unfortunately, my treatment at the hands of senior CSIRO people was relatively mild compared to that of other senior scientists who exercised their democratic right to speak out with the aim of informing public debate about the environment, or the impacts of technology on society. People who take the time to visit the website in coming weeks will see another 13 cases of even worse mistreatment of some of Australia’s most talented and brilliant minds.

It is such a shame that so much tax payer money is wasted by the most senior people at CSIRO who seem to have little or no idea of good management and administrative practices. In my experience, the scientists within CSIRO, almost to a man and a woman, are committed experts who could do so much more to solve the environmental problems that Australia faces if only the 25 – 30% of CSIRO’s annual budget that is wasted on fat-cat administrators within CSIRO were devoted to reducing and streamlining administrative procedures and improving staff morale.’

Yesterday on Tasmanian Times: Victims of Bullying, Harassment, and Victimisation in the CSIRO

Comments (8)

  1. Ah me.

    All I can say is that lowly staff have been “suffering” intimidation not unlike this since the late eighties.

    The corporation rules.  Never mind humanity.  I suspect this will get worse until people do something about the two entities that have turned many of us in to slaves.

    Financial institutions and Global Corporations are sucking us dry to grow, grow, grow.  The death throws would/will be awesome.

    Posted by Stephan  on  15/06/12  at  07:46 AM
  2. Thank you Warwick.  Your personal journey saw you move from a ‘Right mill, wrong place’ position, to a ‘Would not support any pulp mill proposal from Gunns’.  I hope my paraphrasing is appropriate.  I also hope that the Victims of CSIRO initiative is successful.  As a Tamar valley resident, I thank you.
    Posted by Garry Stannus  on  15/06/12  at  09:14 AM
  3. The bullying propensities, and the senior appointments, are probably emanating from the thuggish elements of ministries in both the major parties.

    On the news last night Bob Brown responded to questions about the Gillard dirt files with a mention of the voluminous file on himself kept by Eric Abetz.

    Australia’s eclectic “third way” in politics has its feet on the bottom.

    John Hayward

    Posted by john hayward  on  15/06/12  at  09:49 AM
  4. Unfortunately Mr Rafferty’s comments also sound just like several public service organisations. Whils they have a stated focus ,aims and corporate plan the major effort of management and executives is to make the minister happy and look good. Many initiatives are examined to sse what effect it will hve on govt or the minister,not necessarily how much benefit it will be to Tasmania.  Ooh I forgot,The ministers’s view is that keeping the Minister is for the benfit of the Tasmania!!!!!
    Posted by Barry  on  15/06/12  at  10:31 AM
  5. Warwick Raverty has the undying gratitude of the people of the Tamar Valley.  Knowing that our cause was based in hard science was enormously encouraging and strengthening, and Warwick’s willingness to be a decent and brave human being and use his skills for the common good was a rare moment of brightness in all of this.
    We learned from an absolute insider of the dangers and deception around Gunns proposed chemical processes and the intrinsic dangers and failings of pulp mill technology.

    Posted by Anne Cadwallader  on  15/06/12  at  12:57 PM
  6. Warwick Raverty is one of those rare and unusual characters, an ‘expert’ whose vast hands-on experience and commonsense have him standing head and shoulders above most other commentators on the subject of pulp mills.  That was why he was chosen as an expert on the RPDC panel to assess the merits & suitability of Gunns proposed Tamar Valley Pulp Mill.

    When the RPDC found Gunns proposal to be critically non-compliant, those with vested financial or political interests have relentlessly attempted to tear down the reputations of Dr Raverty and other members of the RPDC.

    Having heard his public speaking on the subject of Gunns proposed Tamar Valley Pulp Mill, I have been extremely impressed by the breadth and depth of his knowledge of the subject along with the great sense of humour he uses to get his point across.

    Warwick’s concern for the health and well-being of residents of the Tamar Valley has obviously come at huge personal costs at the hands of CSIRO sycophants and toadies trying to please their Government masters and industrial financial benefactors.

    I thank you Warwick for your determined and continuing fight against the corrupt and unethical behaviour of some in both Government and the tunnel-vision corrupt industry that has blighted our lives for far too long.

    Posted by Tamar Devil  on  15/06/12  at  01:49 PM
  7. I just needed to say thank you Mr Rafferty for bravely speaking out and having the courage of your convictions a rare thing these days 🙂
    Posted by Prue Barratt  on  15/06/12  at  02:07 PM
  8. Tamar Devil 6. I know this is politically incorrect but the truth is, (if it gets past the censor) the Greens forced Warwick Raverty off the RPDC panel. Isn’t that amazing? Apparently they made a mistake but of course never admitted it.
    Posted by Karl Stevens  on  15/06/12  at  04:29 PM
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Victims of CSIRO Advocacy Group makes the News

Posted on June 14, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized |

News of the ‘Victims’ blog site has made it into the press.

Latest Workplace Bullying News

Published on June 14, 2012 by in Training, Trending

Blog Site Bullying, Harassment and Victimisation in the CSIRO Comes to Light

A blog site “Bullying, Harassment and Victimisation in the CSIRO” has been reported in the Tasmanian Times. They state on their site that they aim to provide a point of contact and information for current and former employees of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) who have experienced bullying, harassment, victimisation or other forms of anti-social behaviour as a result of their employment with CSIRO.

The Victims Of CSIRO group was formed in mid-2011 as a result of conversations between a number of former CSIRO employees who all shared common experiences of bullying, harassment and/or coercive behaviour whilst employees of the CSIRO.  It soon became apparent from the large body of information between the former employees that this was a significant issue requiring a coordinated approach to address effectively. A number of our members have previously approached CSIRO at both Senior Executive and Board level to address these issues without success.


Check out the following link to the Tasmanian Times.  The news article has attracted some supportive comments from readers:

Comments from the Tasmanian Times article below:

Comments (3)

  1. Congratulations on establishing this advocacy and support group for ethical CSIRO staff. It is long overdue.It is vital that the community get behind public sector employees who are prepared to speak out about
    damaging workplace cultures.

    This type of bullying and divisive culture has direct implications for the integrity of the science that is released in the public domain by CSIRO.

    Posted by Isla MacGregor  on  14/06/12  at  09:17 AM
  2. It should come as no surprise to Tasmanians that both major parties would like to enlist the public service to their political ends.The CSIRO is a member of a the Australian Forest Products Association, an industry lobby group seeking to ensure that biomass energy is certified as a carbon reduction activity.

    John Hayward

    Posted by john hayward  on  14/06/12  at  09:48 AM
  3. John Hayward, if this is true…BANG goes the credibility of the CSIRO. So poisons used and the forestry rape and burning is all approved and encouraged by the CSIRO is it???
    Posted by TV Resident  on  14/06/12  at  02:39 PM
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Comcare letter of response to CSIRO’s disclosure of a confidential report at Senate Estimates

Posted on June 12, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized |

On Monday 28th of May 2012 at the Senate Estimates Economics Committee hearing, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the CSIRO, Mr Craig Roy quoted sections of a confidential draft report into a bullying complaint made by a former CSIRO employee, Dr Sylwester Chyb.  Not only did Mr Roy disclose material of a confidential nature in a public forum, he misrepresented the report.  Below is the letter of response from Comcare (obtained under Freedom Of Information provisions)

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Senate Estimates – Education, Employment & Workplace Relations Committee (28/05/2012)

Posted on June 11, 2012. Filed under: Senate Estimates Transcripts |

Senator ABETZ: (…) In the meantime, can I ask about the CSIRO. I understand that there is currently a case before Comcare involving an ex-CSIRO employee who has claimed that he was systematically bullied and intimidated by senior staff. Are you aware of the case that I might be referring to?

Mr O’Connor: Yes, there has been an extensive inspection and investigation under way into one particular former federal worker at CSIRO. There have been previous investigations into allegations of workplace harassment and bullying at that organisation as well.

Senator ABETZ: So there were four areas of this investigation?

Mr O’Connor: I believe so.

Senator ABETZ: Is it correct to say that a conclusion was reached that there was no bullying at CSIRO?

Mr O’Connor: The report of the inspector is nearing finalisation. I understand the draft version of the report has been shared with both the worker who has made the complaint and the CSIRO to make sure that the factual matters that are raised in the report are accurate and do represent the positions put by both parties. I understand that that draft report has been shared and the parties have until a date in June to get back to the inspector with any clarifications before the inspector finalises their conclusions and finalises the report.

Senator ABETZ: So it would be wrong to say that any conclusions had been reached?

Mr O’Connor: I think it is premature to canvass that until both the worker and his former employer have the opportunity to verify the facts. It is a very involved matter and a number of sensitive issues have been raised that have affected this worker. That is the work health and safety arrangements, but separate to that this worker is also being supported by Comcare in its recovery and support operations with regard to claim arrangements.

Senator ABETZ: Given that it is a draft report, I assume it was provided on a confidential basis to the employee?

Mr O’Connor: That is my understanding.

Senator ABETZ: And also, one therefore suspects, to the employer?

Mr O’Connor: I can confirm that the employer received a copy as well.

Senator ABETZ: On a confidential basis?

Mr O’Connor: That is my assumption.

Senator ABETZ: It would be premature to draw conclusions from it, because it has not been finalised, because Comcare is still awaiting feedback from both parties in relation to the draft findings?

Mr O’Connor: Correct.

Senator ABETZ: I do not have personal knowledge of this, but I have been told by a colleague that at CSIRO estimates today a deputy chief executive read some sections of the recently written draft report into the estimates Hansard. I will leave it there, but that is what was asserted to me. As people in this committee would know, I was nowhere else today but at this committee so I do not have firsthand knowledge of that, but it has been suggested to me that that did occur. I would alert Comcare to that for any follow-up that you might want to have with that particular officer, if that information turns out to be correct. I stress that I am going on information supplied.

Senator Jacinta Collins: To clarify that point—is your information that excerpts of a draft report were read, or that information that might be consistent across a draft report and other material may have been read?

Senator ABETZ: A deputy chief executive of CSIRO read some sections of the recently written draft report into that case at an estimates hearing earlier today. He said there were four areas of this investigation and, I think, that the report had reached a conclusion that there is essentially no bullying at CSIRO. That is a paraphrase of what I have been given as a typed version, so I cannot take it further than that. The Hansard record will undoubtedly reveal if that is the case, but I assume that if it did occur—and I want a caveat to this question, if it did occur—you can advise that no clearance was sought from Comcare prior to that occurring.

Mr O’Connor: We will take that as a question.

Senator ABETZ: Yes, if part of the draft report was quoted, can we take it that Comcare did not approve of that quoting?

Mr O’Connor: That would not be in accordance with our expectations.

Senator ABETZ: Same difference, thank you. Could that in any way have compromised the rights of the ex-employee?

Mr O’Connor: I would not want to speculate.

Senator ABETZ: Fair enough, but one assumes that the reason you asked the parties not to disclose the contents of the draft report publicly is so that it does not influence the final report.

Mr O’Connor: The inspectorate need to come to their final conclusion. They want to make sure that their opinions and judgments are based on facts, or if there are differences of facts, to make a view about that.

Senator ABETZ: Is it correct that several other former employees from various other parts of CSIRO have asked Comcare to launch a separate investigation into a range of matters around workplace bullying?

Mr O’Connor: That is correct. I understand seven former federal workers at CSIRO have made their concerns known, and our inspectorate has reached out to them and the law firm that is acting on their behalf. I understand that there are two other people who have raised their concerns with Comcare. These people are aware of how our inspectorate is proposing to approach these matters.

Senator ABETZ: That is seven plus two?

Mr O’Connor: That is my understanding.

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Senate Estimates – Economics Committee Hansard (28/05/2012)

Posted on June 11, 2012. Filed under: Senate Estimates Transcripts |

Senator COLBECK: Dr Clark, on Saturday, the Prime Minister announced a parliamentary inquiry into workplace bullying. Has anyone in the government ever directly raised with you the subject of workplace bullying at CSIRO? Does your organisation, do you think, have a serious problem with this issue?

Dr Clark: Certainly, Senator, we do not have a serious problem with the issue. But making sure that our workplaces are the right environment for innovation and making sure that we have an environment of trust and respect across our workplaces is something that is imperative to us and something where we look to make sure that has improved.

Senator COLBECK: So have you ever had a circumstance where a workplace bullying problem has been raised directly with you?

Dr Clark: We have had only this year a couple of complaints in the area of workplace bullying. I will ask Mr Roy to cover the details of them.

Senator COLBECK: Have you specifically had them raised with you?

Dr Clark: Areas have been, and cases have been, dealt with by Mr Roy.

Senator COLBECK: No. But that is not my question. Have they been specifically raised with you?

Dr Clark: In terms of the complaints that we have had in the year to date, we have only had a couple of cases. In terms of my involvement, I certainly make sure we have the right team involved in them. I make sure, particularly in complex issues, that we have the right expertise. So I do ensure that the right team is working on these programs.

Senator COLBECK: Dr Clark, you are still not answering my question. Has anybody raised them directly with you?

Dr Clark: As I said, Senator, yes. I oversee and make sure that we have the right people working on those cases in—

Senator COLBECK: But what I am getting at is whether employees have come directly to you with issues that they have had within the workplace?

Dr Clark: In terms of issues in the workplace, yes, my door is always open. I do have several conversations around improving our workplace and environment.

Senator COLBECK: So, Mr Roy, you told us in February that CSIRO would not have a circumstance in which a complaint was made against a specific officer and was referred back to that officer to solve. Do you stand by that statement?

Mr Roy: I stand by that that is our normal practice. I cannot speak for every interaction that has happened, but I certainly stand by that as the principle. If someone takes a complaint to their divisional chief or through to me or Dr Clark, we will ensure that the right people at arm’s length to it are given the opportunity to investigate the claims. I think I also noted in that answer, Senator, that our first response is one of informal conciliation—can we actually bring the parties together without some form of formal investigation?

Senator COLBECK: But you said—and I am reading the Hansard of 15 February:
But we would not have a circumstance in which a complaint was made against a particular officer and it was referred back to that officer to solve.

Mr Roy: I am not aware of a situation where we do.

Senator COLBECK: You are not aware of a situation where do you? Mr Roy: That is correct.

Senator COLBECK: So it would not be true that Dr Clark was sent an email on 11 August 2010 in which an employee made it clear that they had a grievance with their manager, the chief of ecosystem sciences, Mark Lonsdale, and it would not be the case in the email that the employee specifically asked Dr Clark if there was, until the problem was resolved, somebody other than Mr Lonsdale who could be appointed as their supervisor instead?

Mr Roy: So the supervisor is a separate issue. What we did in that case was we escalated it up the line to Dr Lonsdale’s supervisor of the day, which was Dr Joanne Daly, and then was subsequently Dr Andrew Johnson. They took overarching carriage of the issues pertaining to the officer that you mention. I do not think you mentioned the officer, but I think we know who we are talking about.

Senator COLBECK: I think we do. And it would not be correct that a response to that serious and private confidential email from the employee came not from Dr Clark or anyone else, for that matter, within CSIRO but within a couple of hours from Dr Lonsdale himself?

Mr Roy: I would have to take that on notice. What I can say, though—and you may well be aware but for your colleagues—Comcare are in the process of finalising an investigation into some claims brought forward by the officer you are referring to. There are four specific complaints that that officer mentioned to Comcare. They are in the process of handing down a 90-odd page report into their findings. Whilst there is a number of improvement opportunities that CSIRO can have—and we would be disappointed if they did not identify improvement opportunities—they did say, and I will quote from the draft report, so it may well change before it is finalised over the next couple of weeks:

I found no evidence of system deficiencies or a culture within CSIRO or specifically with Entomology division that embedded or promoted bullying type behaviour.

That is the headline summary from the Comcare report. As I indicated before, there will be some matters that we need to work on out of that report, but that is at the broad level, and I think that is representative of the organisation more broadly.

Senator COLBECK: Circumstance does not align very well with your comment from 15 February on Hansard:

But we would not have a circumstance in which a complaint was made against a particular officer and was referred back to that officer to solve.

Mr Roy: I would be surprised and disappointed if that had happened. As I said, I am not aware that it has happened, but I will take it on notice and I will look very closely at that matter for you.

Senator COLBECK: We are talking about somebody who has gone to the top of the organisation. We have asked you about this before. Would you concede that such an action towards an employee would represent an alarming lack of process?

Dr Clark: Senator, let me just be clear here. I have been very involved in making sure that we had the right team. We have discussed this issue. It is a complex issue. It required specific expertise. I am comfortable that that expertise has been working on this case. I am very comfortable with Mr Roy’s handling of the case. As he outlined, the specific issue was the immediate line manager. Mr Roy has outlined that the one up manager who was relevant was then involved in this, which was Dr Daly and subsequently Dr Johnson. This is the right course and the right process. As Comcare has confirmed, they do not have any issues with this. So these matters we take incredibly seriously and make sure that we are putting due process and the right people on these matters. I also highlight the matters directly with the board so that there is full transparency. But we take them very, very seriously as we aim to improve the organisation across the board.

Senator COLBECK: It is a bit difficult, though, when someone sends you an email and it gets responded to by the person that they are complaining about within a matter of hours.

Dr Clark: It is certainly not unusual for emails that come to me to be handled by others. As Mr Roy has outlined, I think we will look into that particular—

Senator COLBECK: But by the person who is being complained against?

Dr Clark: Mr Roy has already answered that question—that we will look into the particular timing of that email and come back to you.

Senator COLBECK: So it is not a matter of concern that that would have occurred, then?

Dr Clark: Mr Roy has just answered that question.

Mr Roy: It would be appreciated if you were able to provide us with a copy of that email or at least a time stamp as to how we might track it and then we can get to the bottom of the issue you raise.

Senator COLBECK: You said on 19 October:
CSIRO has a very strong approach to zero harm policy as a number of leading health and safety organisations do. It covers effectively zero injuries to our staff and zero unsafe practices.

That is still your view?

Mr Roy: That is absolutely my view. And the organisation takes the approach to zero harm very, very seriously.

Senator COLBECK: You have indicated that Comcare has launched an investigation into the claims of bullying by that employee that we are talking about?

Mr Roy: By that ex employee; that is correct. That was lodged—I do not have the exact time—many, many months ago. The report is imminent to be released. We have a draft copy to check for correctness and accuracy, not to comment on the content, and then provide any factual error feedback back to Comcare so they can finalise the report. What I have given you in the spirit of trying to work through this issue constructively is a headline summary that was a quote from that Comcare report.

Senator COLBECK: On the back of that case, is it not true that seven other scientists have now come forward with a range of allegations of workplace bullying?

Mr Roy: I am not aware of that. I am not aware of seven other scientists coming forward in terms of allegations of workplace bullying or harassment. I know that a number of questions were placed on notice following the last hearing. The question was asked specifically about how many cases since 2008, I think it was, were being investigated by partners. The response we gave to that was eight at the time. There are also questions around the code of conduct, which we responded to—how many staff we had spoken to with regard to potential code of conduct breaches. But we do take these matters very seriously, as I continue to indicate.

Senator COLBECK: Does retrenchment of an employee during a return to work plan after a psychological injury represent a breach of the CSIRO’s employment policies?

Mr Roy: No. It does not, Senator. It does not represent a breach of broader Australian government policies. They are separate matters. We treat the health and wellbeing and return to work program importantly and we look at the need for those capabilities into the future.

Senator COLBECK: Are you aware of any cases in recent years in which an employee has been placed on suicide watch as a consequence of their experiences at CSIRO?

Mr Roy: Not that I am aware of. In terms of the broader organisation, we would have to take that on notice. But I am certainly not aware of it.

Senator COLBECK: So you cannot assure me that that has not happened on occasion in recent years?

Mr Roy: I would be quite surprised. But as I said specifically, I cannot give you an ironclad guarantee today. I would have to ask some questions around that. We do run an organisation where we have a number of divisions. They generally deal with the matters that are raised in terms of any health and wellbeing issues with staff members in their division. It tends to escalate to my level if it cannot be resolved within a divisional construct or, in fact, Dr Clark’s level.

Senator COLBECK: So do you have a procedure to deal with this—a corrective action process to deal with those sorts of things?

Mr Roy: In terms of bullying and harassment?

Senator COLBECK: Well, the last circumstance that I have just raised with you?

Mr Roy: We would take that very, very seriously. We would seek to work with the staff member. We have an employee assistance program that would help support. We would seek to do whatever it took to help that particular staff member if we knew that one of our staff were on suicide watch or had some severe mental illness. I can think of a number of cases where we have done whatever it has taken to try to help staff members. As you would be aware, depression and other mental illnesses are broad across our community, so it is not unexpected that some staff members in CSIRO would also suffer from that condition, and we would want to help them.

Senator COLBECK: So when you say that you are not aware of any of those circumstances, there are circumstances where you have had to go to significant measures to provide assistance for employees?

Mr Roy: Yes, Senator. They are generally not work related. They are generally just part of what a mental illness is. It is dealing with a challenging situation. You need to be treated from a behavioural sense and from a medical sense in a number of cases. We will help the individual work through that to the best of our ability. We are not qualified doctors or psychiatrists to help them, but we will do whatever we can.

Senator COLBECK: Were information management technology division employees advised in 2010 that all except senior management positions would be restructured in that division? Did this result in the loss of around 30 positions? If so, on what date were the employees originally advised of the restructure and what date was the CEO of Centrelink notified?

Dr Clark: Yes, we did have a restructure. In terms of the detail, we would be happy to take that on notice and provide you with that distinct detail.

Senator COLBECK: So it did result in the loss of 30 positions?

Dr Clark: It is certainly in that order. This week, I was reviewing the IMT progress, actually, of the groups following that. I have been very pleased with the way our IMT team has been working. They are a truly exceptional group in the management of our IT systems. And the platforms that we need for the future, which is what this particular group works on, are going extremely well. I am quite pleased with it. We have undergone that restructure of that order of positions.

Senator COLBECK: You are not aware of any breaches of section 530 of the Fair Work Act in respect of that particular matter?

Dr Clark: I am not, but you did ask for some more specific information regarding dates and we will provide you with that.

Senator COLBECK: While you are at it, if you could let me know if there are any other occasions where, since the introduction of the Fair Work Act, CSIRO has breached its provisions?

Mr Roy: I want to clarify, Senator: are you talking about where we have been taken to Fair Work Australia and there has been a formal breach noted against CSIRO?

Senator COLBECK: Yes, please.

Mr Roy: I am not aware of any cases, as we sit here today, but we will take it on notice, as Dr Clark indicated.

Senator COLBECK: I am specifically interested, particularly in the timeframes in relation to this matter. So if you can give us those details.

Dr Clark: We will.

Senator COLBECK: Were FOI requests made to CSIRO in late 2011 and early 2012 by a former employee who had been with the organisation for 11 years? Do the answers to those requests show that 12,528 pages of internal Outlook emails into those appointments were written about them between 1998 and 2009? Is it also right that almost all of those pages to which the employee has not been privy were generated after May 2006 when he first made his complaints about the practices of at least one CSIRO manager?

Mr Whelan: No. I am not aware of that level of detail, although I would be happy to make an inquiry to that effect.

Senator COLBECK: So in respect of the information I have, this employee had something like 500 pages worth of emails and calendar appointments generated about him in the first eight years of his employment. But another 12,000 pages worth were generated in the last three. That is an extraordinary use of resources.

Mr Whelan: Depending on the individual’s circumstances, it is not entirely surprising. If the individual had a workers compensation case that required medical assessments and turn to work programs, there would have been detailed plans developed. They would take up many pages. They would have been reviewed. I think you are referring to individual emails. Often those emails are forwarded and copied. That would result in the same number of pages being replicated a number of times. On the face of it, I am not sure that I would be concerned about that. It would depend on the nature of the individual’s employment history and his circumstances.

Senator COLBECK: So those circumstances would drive the generation of this information?

Mr Whelan: Yes, Senator. As you would imagine, employees of CSIRO are not in the business of writing emails or preparing reports just for the fun of it. They generally do it in response to a need or a request. I can only imagine from the details you have provided me today that there was a range of factors that required that information to be prepared. As I indicated to you, I would be happy to take the detail on notice and confirm the figures you have quoted.

Senator COLBECK: Mr Whelan, I spoke to you before about the SAP implementation project that is part of the BETR project. Can you please clarify what the project budget was and what the full cost of delivering the project was?

Mr Whelan: I am pretty sure we have taken that question on notice previously and answered it. I will be happy to check that. But if we have not, I will give you those details. It is approximately four years since the SAP system and the BETR project were implemented. So the timeframe is probably about 2008 and 2009 when I was answering questions on that. But I am happy to check the record and provide them to you.

Senator COLBECK: If you could advise that that is the full cost of the project. I would just like to know whether or not there were a number of different accounts over which was spread the reporting of the costs.

Mr Whelan: There certainly would have been a number of different accounts in our general ledger that we would have recorded costs against. We would have recorded costs against people, software, training and travel. So there will be a range of them. But there will be a project cost centre which accumulated all of those different accounts, and I will provide you with the report against the value against that cost centre.

Senator COLBECK: So you can then assure me that the compilation of that provides the total cost to the project?

Mr Whelan: To the best of our efforts, yes, Senator, I can do that.

Senator COLBECK: Dr Clark, can you tell me what date you first became a director of Valentine Holdings Pty Limited?

Dr Clark: I can, Senator. I became a director on 27 February 2007.

Senator COLBECK: What date did you first disclose your directorship as part of your conflict of interest declarations at CSIRO?

Dr Clark: I declared to the board secretary on 8 December 2011.

Senator COLBECK: In 2011?

Dr Clark: To the board secretary in terms of my personal returns, which was a summary of my personal activities and balance sheet et cetera, which were required on appointment. They were provided on appointment.

Senator COLBECK: So why the gap between 2007 and 2011?

Dr Clark: Valentine Holdings’ activities are simply holding commercial property. In terms of, for example, my personal mortgages, personal property and commercial property, for example, that is declared in my personal interest return. It is not declared as a conflict of interest to the board because it does not hold a conflict of interest and is not deemed to be so.

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Posted on June 11, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized |

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