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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