Archive for December, 2012

Calls for a Parliamentary Inquiry into CSIRO

Posted on December 26, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Another gem from Noel Towell.

Inquiry call on CSIRO ‘bullying’

December 27, 2012

AN INQUIRY should be held into Commonwealth science agency CSIRO and the treatment of its 6600-strong workforce amid claims ”of criminal conduct and commercial fraud”, the federal opposition says.

Coalition science spokeswoman Sophie Mirabella has written to Science Minister Chris Evans saying the government needs to act on accusations emerging from CSIRO of a persistent and widespread workplace culture of bullying.

The organisation is already racing to meet a December 31 compliance deadline for an improvement notice issued in June by Commonwealth workplace authority Comcare over allegations of bullying and harassment at the CSIRO’s Black Mountain site in Canberra.

The Liberal frontbencher said she believed many workplace allegations against CSIRO managers were unresolved. She has asked Senator Evans in her letter to institute a full inquiry into workplace culture and practice at the organisation.

CSIRO has publicly acknowledged the Comcare notice and updated staff on the progress in dealing with bullying and harassment claims. But Mrs Mirabella said an inquiry was needed to probe claims that may not have been properly investigated.

”It is my view that such an inquiry should be established as a matter of urgency, with terms of reference and powers that would enable it to comprehensively review recent and historical instances of such conduct and the adequacy of the organisation’s responses to them,” she wrote to the minister.

”There may have been tens of claims of workplace bullying, intimidation and/or harassment, and other related forms of misconduct that have not been fully or adequately investigated, and where a strong possibility exists that, at the very least, due process has been breached.”

A spokesman for Senator Evans said on Wednesday that the minister had held talks with the CSIRO chairman and chief executive and that Mrs Mirabella’s letter had been passed to the organisation’s parent department, Science and Innovation, to examine its other claims.

One of 12 directives issued by Comcare instructs CSIRO to develop a ”risk management plan” before it tries to tackle any allegation of misconduct.

Performance management processes and misconduct investigations have proved to be common triggers for bullying claims at the organisation.

Chief executive Megan Clark has assured staff the CSIRO is ”on track” to comply with the improvement notice.

The CSIRO staff association, a division of public sector union CPSU, has called for a ”zero-tolerance” approach by senior management to problems with bullying and harassment.

But Mrs Mirabella said in her letter she was not satisfied with the response and highlighted the existence of a group of aggrieved former CSIRO public servants who were campaigning for change in the organisation.

Mrs Mirabella, who says she has been pursuing the issue for more than two years, told the minister she and her colleagues were unhappy with many of the answers from CSIRO executives in Senate hearings.

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What Comcare says about CSIRO – Now and Then

Posted on December 21, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Below is an investigation report available on the Comcare website in relation to a complaint lodged in 2009.  We have a fairly intimate knowledge of this particular report and thought we might share some of our insights, particularly in relation to the more recent revelations in the media in relation to the CSIRO’s toxic workplace culture.

2009 – Of particular note is that Comcare’s investigation back in 2009 effectively found that CSIRO had policies for all of these eventualities and determined that no further investigation was warranted.

2012 – Comcare after receiving a large number of complaints determines that those same policies were inadequate.  Comcare again declines to undertake a thorough investigation of the allegations.

Nothing has occurred over this period, despite Comcare being made aware of some serious allegations in relation to workplace health and safety breaches.  Does this mean that we will again wait until 2015 and the situation to become even more toxic before Comcare determines that perhaps it is the people implementing those policies who are the real cause of the toxic workplace culture within the CSIRO?

It is quite obvious that the problem lies within the implementation of those policies and that a change of those policies will be unlikely to have any impact as far as the culture of workplace bullying, harassment and victimisation within the CSIRO is concerned!

CSIRO’s Insurance premium has more than trebbled over the past 12 months and has risen significantly each year over most of the previous years.  What is the damages bill likely to be if we let this problem continue until 2015 as the previous patterns suggest?

In both cases Comcare have failed to undertake a thorough investigation of the complaints.

In 2009, the appointed Comcare investigator failed to interview key witnesses and relied on the CSIRO’s assurance that it had policies in place to deal with those issues, despite findings supporting the complainants allegations.  Comcare also failed categorically to follow up on any of the additional areas of concern identified by the investigator in relation to the irregularities that were actually noted.

In 2012, Comcare has effectively rehashed an Improvement Notice issued to CSIRO earlier in the year in relation to a completely different complaint of bullying, despite stating publicly that they had undertaken a thorough investigation of the allegations made by 12 former and current employees.  Changing a few words on a document does not amount to a “thorough investigation” by any stretch of the imagination.

Comcare have also failed to provide information in relation as to how the matter was “thoroughly” investigated.

Comcare have also declined to provide a full, non-redacted copy of the latest Improvement Notice on the grounds that it might breach confidentiality by identifying individual complainants, all of whom are already known to us.  The entire section outlining the determined breaches of the WHS Act by CSIRO are curiously redacted from the document, meaning the breaches responsible for the issuing of the Improvement Notice have not be disclosed.

Our understanding is that all such Improvement Notices must be posted in full, in prominent locations throughout the workplace in order to satisfy ones obligations under the WHS Act and thus one can effectively walk into any CSIRO building and obtain a copy of the Improvement Notice, which by the way,  have still not been displayed according to our sources.

This appears suspiciously to be an attempt to prevent access to information which will effectively enter the public domain.

Come on Mr O’Connor and Mr Kibble.  A little transparency in your processes is surely not too much to ask, particularly as you are servants of the Australian public and ultimately accountable for your actions!


In October 2009 Comcare received a written allegation of bullying/harassment made against CSIRO. The allegation raised a number of concerns for Comcare, namely:
a. CSIRO may have failed to respond adequately to complaint of bullying,
b. CSIRO may have failed to respond adequately to complaints of victimisation,
c. Other workplace health and safety issues involving CSIRO;
d. Inadequate case manager, and
e. Inadequate monitoring.

Findings of Fact
In relation to the concern that CSIRO may have failed to respond adequately to a complaint of bullying, the Comcare investigation found that:

a. CSIRO had a bullying and harassment policy, and a grievance policy, in existence at the time of the incident and, based on the evidence, all staff complied with the policies;
b. CSIRO had equity and diversity contacts, and health and safety representatives, available to staff;
c. There was no evidence that indicated a breach of section 16 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1991 (the OHS Act); and
d. The respondent is no longer employed by the CSIRO and the lack of evidence made pursuing a section 21 breach of the OHS Act inappropriate.

In relation to the concern that CSIRO may have failed to respond adequately to complaints of victimisation, the Comcare investigation found that:

a. On the evidence presented, the complainant’s allegations fall outside the obligations of CSIRO and its employees under the OHS Act;
b. The investigator was presented with no evidence that indicated a breach of section 16 or of section 21 of the OHS Act; and
c. The complainant had not exhausted internal CSIRO policies for resolving grievances.

In relation to the concern that there may have been other workplace health and safety issues involving CSIRO, the Comcare investigation found that:

a. Although the CSIRO failed to report the complainant’s injury and allegations, there was no other evidence of non-compliance by CSIRO notification.
b. The complainant’s remaining allegations fell outside the regulation of the OHS Act and were referred to Comcare’s Claims Services Branch. The CSIRO had internal grievance procedures for managing complaints of this nature.
2. In relation to the concern that the case manager responsible for managing the complainant’s case was “inadequate” in that return-to-work plans, for example, appeared not to be completed promptly, the Comcare investigation found that:

a. This matter fell outside the regulation of the OHS Act.

In relation to the concern that there was “inadequate monitoring” of supervisory staff placements within CSIRO, in that an employee who had been the subject of a workplace grievance was returned to a supervisory position, despite the explicit recommendation in the investigation report that the employee be prohibited from supervising staff, and was subsequently given supervision of the subject complaint, the Comcare investigation found that:

a. The CSIRO had an internal grievance procedure for managing complaints of this nature. Further, the CSIRO had a number of health and safety representatives available to staff.

The Comcare investigation found that:
a. The CSIRO has significant policies surrounding workplace harassment, bullying and grievances and a Health and Safety Management Arrangement.
The organisation also has equity and diversity contacts and health and safety representatives.
b. Based on the evidence available, the complainant’s allegation of bullying and harassment was dealt with in accordance with CSIRO’s internal policies. The Comcare investigator found no indication of a breach of the OHS Act that warranted investigation.
c. The remaining allegations were either outside the OHS Act obligations of CSIRO staff, not exhausted internally within CSIRO policies, or forwarded to Comcare’s Claims Services Branch for further assessment.

Comcare recommended that:
a. Comcare does not commence a formal investigation into the allegations made by the complainant.
b. Comcare’s OHS Investigations Queensland Office coordinates a pro-active intervention with local CSIRO contacts to highlight the obligations under sections 16 and 21 of the OHS Act and providing CSIRO with guidance
information about bullying and harassment, and the role of Health and Safety Representatives

c. Comcare’s OHS Investigations Queensland Office coordinates a pro-active intervention with local CSIRO contacts to reinforce local knowledge of incident and accident notification, in particular psychosocial injuries and
incapacities notifiable under the OHS Act.
d. As part of recommendation b and c, OHS Investigations Queensland Office reminds local CSIRO management of their obligations to report incidents and accidents, in particular psychosocial injuries and incapacities notifiable under the OHS Act.
e. OHS Investigations Queensland Office for the complainant’s allegations to the appropriate contact within Comcare’s Claims Services Branch for further assessment in relation to claims management processes followed by CSIRO in this matter.
f. The complainant and other employees similarly affected be encouraged by CSIRO to continue to follow the organisation’s internal procedures for resolving grievances and, if appropriate, consult the designated Health and Safety Representative.

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Canberra Times – CSIRO races to meet bullying order

Posted on December 19, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Another article from Canberra Times reporter Noel Towell.

CSIRO races to meet bullying order

December 20, 2012
Dr Megan Clark, Chief Executive at the CSIRO.Dr Megan Clark, Chief Executive at the CSIRO. Photo: Bohdan Warchomij

Up to 440 CSIRO public servants have been put through bullying and harassment training as it moves to comply with orders issued by the federal work safety authority.

The CSIRO must also develop a “risk management plan” before it tries to tackle allegations of misconduct among its staff, and has 11 days left until compliance deadline.

Chief executive Megan Clark has assured all staff the organisation is “on track” to comply with the 12 directives in Comcare’s improvement notice, issued in June.

The CSIRO Staff Association has acknowledged the organisation has a problem with accusations of bullying and harassment, and called for a “zero-tolerance” approach.


The association, a division of public sector union the CPSU, says that most CSIRO sites are safe workplaces but there are bullying and harassment “trouble spots”.

Fairfax Media revealed that the federal workplace insurance authority issued the notice this year to Australia’s science and technology organisation, instructing that its responses to bullying, misconduct, workplace conflict and psychological stress were not good enough.

The action was taken in response to the complaints of a group of 12 former and serving CSIRO employees, represented by law firm Maurice Blackburn, pushing for workplace reform in the organisation.

The notice also orders the organisation to undertake regular hazard and risk assessments for anything that might cause any of its employees work-related stress.

A key directive in the improvement notice is the requirement to assess the risk of psychological injury to workers, taking into account individual circumstances, when preparing to take action under the CSIRO’s misconduct policy.

The order instructs the entire staff at the Ecosystem Sciences Division – many based at Canberra’s Black Mountain – to undergo bullying and harassment training.

In her all-staff email of December 10 Dr Clark said the organisation had rolled out a national “e-learning module” that she expected all employees to have completed by the end of the year.

CSIRO spokesman Huw Morgan said on Wednesday those Ecosystems Sciences workers who had not completed training were away on leave or had other reasons.

“The remaining staff will complete the training within two weeks of returning from leave.”

The staff association says in its latest bulletin “there is anecdotal evidence that the incidence of bullying and harassment is increasing”.

“Most CSIRO workplaces – while not without risks – are generally safe and the working conditions are decent. However, CSIRO is not perfect, there are trouble spots and plenty of room overall for improvement.

“Just like physical safety, the staff association expects that CSIRO maintain a zero-tolerance approach to behaviours that pose a risk to psychological health and wellbeing.”

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Lollygate and the Decline of the CDSCC after CSIRO

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

Canberra’s Radio 2CC recently interviewed former CSIRO/CDSCC employee Jack Hoffman, known more recently for having been dismissed for a Big Mac.  Jack discusses his experiences in the period leading up to his effective dismissal, including the decline of the workplace environment, subsequent to the take over of the the Canberra Deep Space Communications Centre (CDSCC) by the CSIRO.  This is a stellar example of how the imposition of one toxic and highly-dysfunctional organisation upon another healthy working environment can have disturbing results.

The reference refers to “Lollygate” refers to Jack’s experiences of workplace mobbing and almost universal ridicule as a result of a dental injury he suffered in the workplace.  How Jack’s injury came to be known far and wide throughout the workplace and the privacy implications of the disclosure of such information to the general staff body has still not been appropriately explained by the CDSCCs’ Human Resources Manager!

Follow the link below to listen to the interview by Radio 2CC drive presenter, Mike Welsh


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Article posted in “Nature” Magazine

Posted on December 17, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized |

We have been remiss in not posting this article from ‘Nature’ in relation to Dr Clive Spash.

The “Nature” article is produced in full as follows:

Researcher quits over science agency interference

Australian research funding body under fire for ordering major changes to a peer-reviewed paper.

Stephen Pincock

Clive Spash has battled with Australia’s national science agency over a controversial paper.G. Ramage/ Newspix /News Ltd

Australia’s national science agency has been accused of trying to substantially alter a peer-reviewed paper that was critical of carbon-trading schemes, leading a prominent researcher to quit the agency this week.

“I’ve had enough,” ecological economist Clive Spash told Nature. “My health was suffering. There is only so much bullying and harassment one person can take.”

Spash had been invited to submit a paper on emissions trading to a special issue of the journal New Political Economy. It was peer reviewed and accepted for publication, but subsequently withdrawn after his managers at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) decided that it breached rules preventing the agency’s scientists from commenting on government policy (see ‘Australian agency denies gagging researchers‘).

The paper was subsequently published in the proceedings of a conference in October, which CSIRO’s chief executive Megan Clark later said was a breach of “fundamental CSIRO standards”. After the affair became public, the CSIRO said Spash would be allowed to publish his paper with what the agency spokesman said were “minor but important” changes (see ‘Australian agency moves to calm climate row‘).

Spash resigned on 2 December, just days after those changes were outlined. “Dr Spash was always encouraged to publish his work,” said Clarke in a statement. “This issue has never been about stifling debate or censorship. The key issues that have been at play are the quality of the science and how it is communicated.”

A question of independence

But John O’Neill from the University of Manchester, UK, a member of the New Political Economy editorial board, disagrees.

In a letter sent to Australia’s science minister Kim Carr this week, he writes: “When Dr Spash sent us a copy of the suggested changes to the paper, it became clear that the CSIRO is asking not for minor but for major changes in the central arguments of the paper. This is clearly unacceptable to the author. I should add that is also unacceptable to me as the editor of the special issue. It involves interference in our own peer-reviewing procedures that would be incompatible with the academic integrity of the journal.”

According to O’Neill, the original paper argued that emissions-trading schemes will not solve, and potentially could exacerbate, the problem of human-induced climate change. “The version as rewritten by the chief executive of the CSIRO and her staff wants him to argue for a weaker position, that any problems with emissions trading are a matter of design,” he writes. “If the chief executive of the CSIRO wants to argue for a different position to that of Dr Clive Spash she can do so by publicly replying to the paper and presenting arguments for the contrary position.”

“What is clearly improper is for her to use her position to insist on changes to the paper which alter its conclusions prior to publication.”

Spash says that the affair reflects wider problems within the agency. “CSIRO cannot continue to operate as an organization which favours some and not others due to their policy opinions, or position within the organization.”Clark argues that the CSIRO actively encourages its staff to debate the latest science and its implications and to analyse policy options. “However, under our charter, we do not advocate for or against specific government or opposition policies,” she said in a statement. “The CSIRO Charter protects the independence of our science. It also protects CSIRO scientists from being exploited in the political process.”

“My role as chief executive of the CSIRO is to ensure the integrity and independence of our science is maintained. That’s not something I am prepared to compromise on.”

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CSIRO Staff Association finally acknowledges bullying

Posted on December 17, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized |

The CSIRO Staff Association have acknowledged the existence of bullying within CSIRO on their website (see article below). This is a good start…

We would like to point out however that the evidence is far more than anecdotal.  IT EXISTS!

Comcare has issued an organisation-wide Improvement Notice over the matter which according to reliable sources has still not been posted up on noticeboards around the CSIRO.

It’s just a pity that it has taken exposure through media coverage for the CSIRO Staff Association to take this matter seriously.  They have, after all, known about this issue for years, as evidenced in their  statement of claims lodged as a part of past Enterprise Bargaining processes, involvement in the Psychological Health and Well-being Committee initiative which received an overwhelming amount of material on the issue and through consultative committee meetings held with CSIRO’s Executive Management Team.

There are also, of course the members, who have complained of bullying to their workplace delegates and staff association officials over the years.

We trust that the initiative of the CSIRO Staff Association will be in the interest of its members and not an attempt at smoothing over the problem in partnership with CSIRO management.

The Staff Association statement and like are posted below:

Given recent media coverage of bullying and harassment in CSIRO, a number of members have contacted the Staff Association seeking clarity on this complex topic.

 Serious issue

The effects of bullying and harassment can be profound and the damage lasting – not only to the people directly involved – but to other employees and professional reputations.

These interpersonal disputes are often tricky, messy and difficult to define, let alone resolve.

So what is the Staff Association’s approach to bullying and harassment complaints in CSIRO?

Improving workplace culture

One of our first responsibilities is to help employees work collectively to make their workplaces safer. Like many unions, the Staff Association has a long history of advocacy when it comes to workplace safety.

We support workplace policy and programs that encourage greater awareness and reporting of bullying and harassment. The Staff Association also seeks to educate employees in both recognising unacceptable behaviour and constructing workable solutions.

However the issue of bullying and harassment presents a challenge to the collective approach due to the interpersonal and often individual nature of disputes.

Supporting people

We are totally committed to supporting members on a case-by-case basis. Staff Association organisers and delegates regularly provide individual assistance to our members who have been bullied or harassed. We also provide support to members who may be the subject of vexatious claims of intimidation.

The advice we provide is supportive, realistic – and above all – confidential. Maintaining some level of privacy is important to achieving practical solutions.

The situation in CSIRO

While the vast majority of CSIRO employees treat each other with respect and courtesy, there is anecdotal evidence that the incidence of bullying and harassment is increasing. Staff Association organisers have reported more cases from members seeking assistance with the problem.

Most CSIRO workplaces – while not without risks – are generally safe and the working conditions are decent. However CSIRO is not perfect, there are trouble spots and plenty of room overall for improvement.

What happens next?

Just like physical safety, the Staff Association expects that CSIRO maintain a zero tolerance approach to behaviours that pose a risk to psychological health and wellbeing.

The issue was discussed in detail during December’s Consultative Council meeting. Management revealed a range of strategies as part of CSIRO’s response to the Comcare improvement notice. Some of this work has already commenced, such as the e-learning training currently being rolled out nationally. Other initiatives such as a larger revamp of policy in this area will take longer.

There’s a long way to go, but it’s a start. The Staff Association will conduct an education campaign for members on bullying and harassment early next year, to ensure the issue does not slip off the agenda.

Download this bulletin – with poster – hereFor the poster only, click here

Contact your local delegate or Staff Association organiser if you would like more information or to arrange a confidential discussion.

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Radio 2CC Interview with Dr Clive Spash

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

Capital Radio 2CC presenter Mike Welsh conducted the following interview with former CSIRO economist, Dr Clive Spash, who provides an insight into the kinds of strategies engaged in by CSIRO Senior Management in dealing with a “troublesome employee”!

CSIRO Scientist Gagged

Dr. Clive Spash tells Mike Welsh of the bullying he experienced over his refusal to back down on the unpopular emissions trading paper.

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Victims of CSIRO Facebook Group Launched

Posted on December 13, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Hi all

We have recently (by recently we mean in the last 24-hours) launched a Facebook Group for the Victims of CSIRO group.

The URL for the new Facebook Group is:

The Facebook Group will serve as an additional point of contact for the group and as an additional entry point through which to access the Victims of CSIRO website

Please visit the new Victims of CSIRO Facebook Group and show your support by clicking on the ‘Like’ button or by leaving a comment in support of the group.

To celebrate the launch of the new Facebook page we’d like to invite the supporters of our group and visitors to our website to design and submit a new logo for the Victims of CSIRO group.  A winning design will be selected by a panel of our members and displayed prominently on our website with an appropriate acknowledgement of the winning designer.

Entries should be submitted to by COB 31st of December 2012.

Please remain respectful of with use of the CSIRO logo and be mindful of their Intellectual Property rights.


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Sacked for a Snack and Dr Clark’s Response!

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

The following story was televised on Channel 7’s media program, Today Tonight.  The full story can be viewed at the following location:

A Victim’s Take…

Victims of CSIRO notes the following into the relation to the interview with CSIRO CEO, Dr Megan Clark:

1. Dr Clark stated words to the effect that workplace health and safety has been her number one priority since commencing in the top position.


The Victim’s note that Dr Clark has been in her current position for quite some time but contrary to Dr Clark’s assertions, the level of bullying, harassment and victimisation has continued to flourish under her leadership, and in fact a recent Comcare investigation into the bullying complaints of a former employee, Dr Clark herself was implicated to no small degree in the perpetuation of the victimisation of the former employee.

Despite Dr Clark’s assertions that she is all about “Zero Tolerance” to workplace bullying and pro-workplace health and safety, she has continually attempted to dodge questions raised by our politician’s in relation to concerns about CSIRO’s workplace health and safety track record.  The sparse responses which have been elicited from Dr Clark have been somewhat effusive, unnecessarily-qualified and have been lacking in any real substance.

Dr Clark and members of the CSIRO Executive Management Team have been caught out misleading the parliament on numerous occasions and have demonstrated that unless significant pressure is brought to bear, the CSIRO’s senior leadership will continue to sweep the issue under the carpet.

There is “Zero” transparency in the CSIRO handling of its workplace health and safety issues.

Dr Clark’s recent communications have been full of aspirations with no real demonstrative action despite Dr Clark having become acquainted with many of these issues early on in her appointment.

Whilst those in a position to influence the outcome relating the these public revelations continue to accept the Weasel Words of Dr Clark and her Cronies and continue to accept a total lack of any affirmative, tangible action, the culture of bullying and victimisation within the CSIRO is unlikely to change…

Prove us wrong…

A summary of the story in written form taken from Today Tonight’s website is posted below for convenience.

Drive-through snack sacking

December 11, 2012, 6:18 pm David Richardson Today Tonight

In a workplace dispute that’s hard to swallow, a man has lost his job for taking a detour on the way home to go through a McDonald’s drive-through.

Big Jack sacked for snacking

A man has lost his job for taking a detour on the way home to go through a McDonald’s drive-through.

The fast food drive through for a hungry worker ultimately led to a fast dismissal, of a man who claims that buying a burger cost him his dream job.

Jack Hoffman is an electronic technician with the CSIRO and has worked with the premier science organisation for the past ten years.

For the past three he’s been involved in space exploration at the CSIRO’s Deep Space Communications Complex south of Canberra – working with NASA on cutting-edge space projects.

“I was directly involved in the missions to planets like Mars and Jupiter, and to other planets, so I felt I was doing something important and very valuable for humanity,” Hoffman said.Because the site is 25 kilometres from Canberra, NASA provides a fleet of pool vehicles for the CSIRO workers to drive from home and back.

However there are strict rules in place for how the cars can be used.

More stories from reporter David Richardson

“We’re not supposed to use the cars privately, and they accused me of using a car privately by taking it off the road and going through a drive-through,” Hoffman said.

In May this year, not having eaten all day, Hoffman was driving home when he pulled into a McDonald’s near his house. He had deviated about 50 metres from his route home.

“I was gone for that. Had I not done that, I would still be working there,” he said.

Contact details

This reporter is on Twitter at @RichoTT7

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Victims Group gets International Coverage –

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

The following article in relation to the Victims of CSIRO appeared on UK Technology and Science Website –

CSIRO top brass sent to anti-bully boot camp

Victims group doubts toxic culture can be turned around

By Natalie ApostolouGet more from this author

Posted in Government, 10th December 2012 23:21 GMT

Australia’s nexus for scientific research, the CSIRO, is continuing to grapple with the fallout from allegations of widespread bullying practices through the organisation.

In an internal email to all staff from the CSIRO’s CEO Dr Megan Clark distributed yesterday, the chief executive addressed concerns and outlined the steps underway to ensure that staff work in a “respectful place, free from bullying and harassment.”

 The situation at Australia’s most esteemed science and development house, came to the attention of the federal health and safety regulator, Comcare following a spate of complaints from employees.

Former and current employees that have suffered from alleged workplace bullying at the CSIRO have set up a dedicated site as a support network for their experiences.

In the letter to staff, Dr Clark said that the organisation was on track to complete all the requirements of the Comcare Improvement notice.

The CSIRO is also rolling out an e-learning program nationally – Recognising and Preventing Workplace Bullying, Harassment and Discrimination – which aims to train all staff before the end of the year.

Additionally, the CSIRO’s top 70 executives have been receiving training on the ‘bullying’ issue, which focuses on values, accountability and emotional intelligence.

Dr Clark added that these measures were “just the start of our conversation and training and awareness.” The CSIRO will also be developing a multi-year strategy to improve the “maturity in this area” and stepped up its psychological health and wellbeing improvement initiatives.

Spokesperson for the Victims of CSIRO lobby group and former CSIRO executive [employee] (awaiting correction) Andrew Hooley told The Register, “in an organisation which has consistently failed to appropriately and equitably apply its own internal employment policies, it is difficult to see how this toxic workplace culture will be improved by the addition or revision of more policies that are likely only to be provided with the same lip service.”

Hooley said that he did not believe that current Improvement Notice issued by the Comcare would be enough to shift the organisational culture that had created the situation.

“Despite a large number of psychological injury claims and complaints investigated by Comcare in relation to the CSIRO, to date, there have been absolutely no sanctions sought against the CSIRO for its considerable breaches of the workplace health and safety and other criminal and statutory instruments,” he claims.

Hooley said that many of the former employees of the CSIRO that have made bullying or harassment claims against the organisation have been fighting for a resolution for five years. ®

To view the original article go visit

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