Internal Letter to CSIRO Staff from Dr Clark
Below is a copy of an email sent by CSIRO CEO, Dr Megan Clark to all CSIRO Staff in relation to recent directions by Federal Safety Agency, Comcare after an investigation by the agency determined CSIRO to have breached its workplace health and safety obligations to its employees. While we feel it is a step in the right direction in advising employees of the responsibilities in relation to workplace safety issues, it falls far short in addressing the ongoing suffering of the large number of current and former employees who have been injured as a result of CSIRO’s poor workplace health and safety management practices and its attempts to cover up significant incidents of workplace bullying.
We call upon Dr Clark to assist the victims of CSIRO’s poor workplace culture, many of whom have suffered financial hardship, relationship and familial breakdowns, life-long psychological injuries and some of whom will never be capable of engaging in any further meaningful employment.
We also call upon Dr Clark to demonstrate her commitment to cleaning up the poor workplace culture within the CSIRO by taking appropriate action against those who have perpetrated such behaviour as well as those in a position of authority who have turned a blind eye to such behaviour. Many of these individuals still hold senior positions within the CSIRO, despite some of their victims struggling to survive from day to day.
It would also not be amiss for the head of an organisation which has so grievously injured its employees to provide a full and unqualified public apology to those have been harmed as a result of their employment with the CSIRO.
From: Clark, Megan (OCE, Campbell)
Sent: Tuesday, 16 October 2012 11:27 AM
To: CSIRO – All Staff
Subject: An important update about Health and Safety
I wanted to take this opportunity to update you on recent actions that have been taken to further improve the wellbeing of our staff as we strive for a working environment that is safe and free from bullying and harassment.
Some staff will be aware that Comcare conducted an investigation earlier this year into allegations made against CSIRO by a former employee concerning aspects CSIRO’s treatment of them. As part of this investigation, Comcare issued an Improvement Notice which outlined a number of actions that CSIRO must take by 31 December 2012, including:
- Reviewing and amending the CSIRO Misconduct Policy to ensure it provides adequate and consistent advice to CSIRO staff managing misconduct allegations with respect to the manner in which employees are made aware of allegations against them.
- Reviewing and amending the CSIRO Misconduct Policy to ensure formal risk assessments are conducted in particular circumstances.
- Providing training to all staff responsible for implementation of CSIRO Misconduct Policy to ensure that management of misconduct allegations do not create or increase a risk to health and safety.
- Reviewing and amending HR and HSE policies to ensure that where a medical assessment is required for fitness for duty it considers all workplace matters and circumstances which the individual might be expected to encounter.
- Reviewing and amending HR and HSE policies and procedures to ensure employees exhibiting psychological distress or injury are appropriately supported and managed including being referred for medical assessment and advice.
- Developing and implementing policy and procedures for effective governance and recording of information relating to “complex case” management.
My office has already advised staff from the Division at the time the Improvement Notice was issued about our response. However given the nature of the actions being taken, I considered that many of you from other parts of CSIRO might also be interested in what we are doing. In summary:
- A team has been put in place to oversee our actions in response to the Improvement Notice. We are on track to make the necessary changes by 31 December 2012;
- We are in early discussions with Comcare to initiate a joint project to develop best practice approaches to the prevention, early intervention and management of bullying and harassment complaints, including those involving psychological wellbeing;
- Comcare Executives have joined a CSIRO Executive Team meeting, to discuss staff health and wellbeing issues;
- Business Unit and Functional Leaders are continuing to consider actions to be taken in response to the ‘Working in CSIRO’ survey including creating the right environment where issues can be raised.
- An e-learning module on the prevention of workplace bullying and harassment is being developed;
- Human Resources staff continue to consider ways of educating and raising awareness of our managers and staff about the organisational procedures available to raise concerns and grievances and to investigate and address such concerns.
Workplace bullying and harassment and psychological health and wellbeing are, quite rightly, an area of community and public interest. They are issues that affect all of us. Research shared at the recent Comcare conference on this issue indicates one in five of Australians will experience mental ill-health at some stage in their career. The research also showed that each of us are likely to observe, or experience, inappropriate work-place behaviour at some stage.
We are all responsible for our behaviour. I would ask each of you to strive to build trust and respect with our colleagues and work towards building both a workplace where we go home safely at night but also a workplace where we go home with a sense of pride and satisfaction.
I know that how we treat our work colleagues and partners will often be remembered for a lot longer than what we do together.
I look forward to working with you and others as part of our continuous improvement and commit to providing you with a further update on our progress in the new year.
If you have any questions concerning this matter please do not hesitate to contact your Divisional Chief or Corporate General Manager. Our Employee Assistance Provider, Human Resources and Health, Safety & Environment staff are also available, if additional support is required.
Dr Megan Clark