CSIRO announces independent investigation into Workplace Bullying allegations

Posted on February 5, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized |

The following notification has been posted on CSIRO’s website.  Victims of CSIRO also received an email from CSIRO Deputy Chief Executive: Operations, Mr Mike Whelan advising of this notification.

This is a step in the right direction and we eagerly await release of the Terms of Reference.  We would like to point out however, that these allegations predate May 2012 by a significant period.

Reinforcing CSIRO values

CSIRO is committed to providing a positive working environment for all its people; where all forms of unacceptable behaviour – including discrimination, bullying, harassment, intimidation, or threats in the workplace – are not tolerated.

  • 5 February 2013

Since May 2012, there have been a series of allegations made by former employees of bullying and other misconduct matters while they were employed with CSIRO. Some of these cases CSIRO is aware of and have previously been the subject of independent review. Some cases were not known and we have therefore decided to appoint an eminent and experienced independent person to examine claims made by former employees.

This review mechanism is designed to provide an independent and formal means for former employees to raise concerns and allegations of inappropriate behaviour and misconduct whilst they were employed at CSIRO.

Should any of these allegations be proven, CSIRO is committed to taking action to address them. The aims of the review mechanism are to ensure our duty of care has been met to these people, recommend where further action is required and identify lessons we can learn to build into our future strategies.

This mechanism is not intended to establish a scheme under which former employees may apply for financial compensation or other remedies that would typically be able to be awarded by a court, tribunal or other administrative body. Nor is it intended to prejudice or substitute for other rights of recourse that a former CSIRO employee may have in relation to any loss or damage they believe they have suffered as a result of their treatment at CSIRO.

The terms of reference for this process are currently being finalised with input from the independent investigator. Once they have been finalised the details of the investigator and the terms of reference will be posted on this website.

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5 Responses to “CSIRO announces independent investigation into Workplace Bullying allegations”

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Given my own experience with independent investigations commissioned by CSIRO I am very sceptical and rightly so. I am also troubled by the ‘doing something about it’ impression that Megan Clark tries to create. Perhaps the timing gives us a clue – Senate Estimates are taking place next week…

Let’s review what happened in my case.

In May 2010 I raised grievance against Chief of my former Division DIRECTLY with Dr Clark. In July 2010 my solicitor was asked by Group Executive line managing the person I complained about whether my email to Dr Clark titled ‘Formal grievance’ was in fact a formal grievance. It was another 3 months before CSIRO commissioned Aequ’us Partners to conduct the investigation which concluded that Chief of my Division (and another senior manager, Theme Leader of a CSIRO Flagship) engaged in an inappropriate conduct towards me. In the meantime, as I found out from documents released to me under FOI the two above managers prepared ‘a business case’ to make me redundant.
The taxpayer spent $25k on the Aequ’us investigation. Both managers who under CSIRO policy of ‘zero tolerance to unsafe should be sacked remain at their high-paid positions within CSIRO. To make matters worse I received legal threats from the CSIRO General Manager of HR for providing the Aequ’us investigation report to Comcare and AAT!

The other independent investigation was a result of my whistleblower complaint. I was accused of authorising expenditure in excess of what was approved by Chief of Division. I noted that my signature on the CSIRO document was forged and budget was lowered, both without my knowledge. Instead of contacting AFP as per policy CSIRO hired an HR consultant. The investigator confirmed that there was an unauthorised use of my signature. In response CSIRO stated that this was ‘a minor administrative matter’.
Cost to the taxpayer $20k.

Although not commissioned by CSIRO the Comcare investigation into breaches of OHSE cost the Australian taxpayer in excess of $300k.

To date CSIRO have spent more than $400k on fighting my claims against them in the FWA and the Federal Court of Australia (figures based on documents obtained uder FOI).

The trial is scheduled for October and one can expect additional significant cost to CSIRO.

This massive amount of money could have been spent on science I was hired to do if some CSIRO managers were not abusing their power… Megan Clark knows exactly who these managers are and does not need another CSIRO investigation.

To Administrator: the documents mentioned above as well as emails are available for publication upon request.

Thank you for the information, Sylwester. The Administrators would very much like to review this documentation and publish them on this website.

What would an organisation genuinely committed to a genuine investigation of this nature do?
– Appoint an external, eminent and relevantly qualified investigator through an open and transparent process and ensure that the organisation did not control, and that it was not seen to control, any part of the investigation.
What would an organisation genuinely committed to a genuine investigation of this nature but managed by incompetents do?
– Announce an investigation which implies the organisation will be controlling the process from whoa to go.
What would an organisation only pretending to undertake a genuine investigation of this nature do?
– Keep control of the process from whoa to go.
What would an organisation which knows it has something to hide do?
– Keep control of the process from whoa to go.
What has CSIRO done?
Well, almost without exception, media reports into the recently announced CSIRO self-styled ‘investigation’ have used inverted commas in describing it as “independent”. You decide.

Thanks for your comment. Without knowing the full terms of reference and knowing who the ’eminent’ investigator is at this stage, it is difficult to tell whether this will be a genuine effort. We’ll certainly publish our view on the matter once this information becomes available.

Certainly the notification of a senior CSIRO Executive as the contact does not bode well. We can only hope that the executive is not responsible for managing the investigation.

With respect to the post regarding the use of my details as a contact point on the current landing page on csiro.au for the review, this is a temporary measure. We expect as soon as the terms of reference for the review are finalised and details made public those contact details will be replaced by ones associated with the independent investigation process. I hope this clarifies that matter.

Regards Mike Whelan, Deputy Chief Executive, Operations CSIRO

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