Archive for March, 2013

CSIRO media spokeperson ‘verbals” radio announcer

Posted on March 8, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized |

On Wednesday’s Capital Radio 2CC drive program, long time radio personality Mike Welsh revealed details of a highly intimidating telephone call he received from CSIRO’s Media Liaison Manager, Mr Huw Morgan.

It is understood Mr Morgan used highly inflammatory and intimidating language in his off-air conversation with the radio personality, demanding to know “what kind of <effing> journalist are you?”

It is reported that Mr Morgan is unhappy with the drive program’s reporting of the allegations of systemic workplace bullying plaguing the Commonwealth agency and that previously, Mr Morgan has made a number of phone calls to the radio presenter insisting that he desist from providing any further airtime in regards to the matter.

It is understood that CSIRO CEO, Dr Megan Clark has declined a number of invitations to speak with the radio announcer in relation to workplace bullying allegations within the organisation and that the only public response which the CSIRO has been prepared to make to date is one of “no comment”.

Those who are familiar with the CSIRO’s previous communicators and communication strategies will recall the media debacle during the time of former tobacco industry lobbyist, Donna Staunton’s employment in which the CSIRO is alleged to have “black balled”, journalist Peter Pockley after Mr Pockley wrote an article on the gagging of scientists by senior management within the CSIRO at the time.

It has been reported that in recent weeks, CSIRO representitives have also contacted a number of other parties critical of the CSIRO’s handling of workplace bullying issues placing similar pressure on them to desist from further public comment.

It would appear that the CSIRO’s media relations strategies have not really changed in all this time…

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Article in Occupational Health News (Thomson-Reuters)

Posted on March 6, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized |

The following article was published in Thomson-Reuters Occupational Health News Periodical

CSIRO bullying probe rebuffed

A group of former CSIRO staff have refused to support an inquiry the nation’s peak scientific body established to investigate claims of bullying, intimidation and other allegations of serious misconduct. More than 100 scientists and former CSIRO staff formed the “Victims of CSIRO” (VoC) group in 2012 claiming the organisation had not tackled bullying and harassment allegations (OHN 979). Former CSIRO employee Andrew Hooley, who established the VoC, told OHN “the current investigation is not in the public interest, constitutes a gross miscarriage justice and is effectively a gross misuse of public funds which should be allocated to a transparent and legitimate investigation process”. “We have recommended to our members that we do not support participation in the process,” he said. CSIRO released the terms of reference (ToR) for an independent investigation it initiated last month to examine allegations of bullying and unreasonable behaviour (OHN 1003). Emeritus Professor Dennis Pearce will lead the investigation with a team from HWL Ebsworth Lawyers. They will directly receive submissions from current and former CSIRO staff members and affiliates and examine those that warrant further investigation. Pearce is expected to deliver an interim report in May, after submissions close on May 27. “We are disappointed the VoC will not support the independent investigation,” a CSIRO spokesperson told OHN. “We urge others who wish to have their concerns investigated to go to the independent investigator.”

CSIRO says some claims ‘dodgy’

CSIRO deputy chief executive of operations Mike Whelan told a Senate estimates committee in Canberra in February some of the claims on the VoC website were “dodgy”. ”Lots of allegations have been tossed around by stakeholders and media in recent times and I would have to say the basis for some is pretty dodgy,” he said. ”Over the last three years, to October 2012, there have been 11 allegations of bullying and harassment made in the CSIRO and 10 of those have subsequently not been substantiated.” Whelan criticised claims made on the website. ”There are entries that purport to detail the case studies of at least 14 victims of CSIRO and I know for a fact two of the individuals cited there have indicated to CSIRO that they are not victims, that they have not supported the material being put on that website and that they are uncomfortable about being associated with this,” he said. Hooley accused Whelan of “pre-judging” the investigation’s outcome, which was “inappropriate given CSIRO’s legal department have largely been responsible for drafting the ToR document”. He lobbied for a “truly independent investigation” because many VoC members were “terrified of the ramifications in making public disclosures of information”. “Most of the allegations submitted are likely to be invalid for consideration in the second more thorough phase within the current ToR,” he said. “(The ToR) does not oblige CSIRO to act on the findings or even publish the findings, the process is not transparent and does not allow for any challenge to the findings.” In December, Comcare issued CSIRO a work health and safety improvement notice and ordered it to review its management of workplace misconduct and bullying. In a bulletin to the organisation’s 6,600 workers, CSIRO chief executive Megan Clark said its Black Mountain installation in Canberra was now fully compliant with the improvement notice. The CSIRO spokesperson told OHN the notice related to procedures that dealt with people with a pre-existing mental health condition.

Mirabella claims briefing not forthcoming

The Coalition has complained it was not briefed on the inquiry details. A spokesperson for shadow science minister Sophie Mirabella told OHN a “promised” briefing was an email “shortly before they were publicly released”. “We weren’t briefed, we were emailed,” the spokesperson said. The CSIRO spokesperson said “Mirabella’s office was briefed on the terms of reference by the minister’s office”.

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A Victim’s position on the recently announced Terms of Reference

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

Provided below is our published position in relation to the recently published terms of reference for the “Independent” investigation into workplace bullying and other misconduct announced by the CSIRO.  Whilst we do not question the credibility of Emeritus Professor Dennis Pearce in conduct the investigation, we do have some serious questions in relation to the efficacy of such a constrained investigation process, particularly as it excludes some of the most serious classifications of allegation.

“Victims of CSIRO” Advocacy Group Rejects Terms of CSIRO’s Bullying Inquiry – Advises Members Against Participation    

Inquiry Terms are “Irretrievably Flawed” and “Cannot Possibly” get to the Bottom of Allegations of Bullying Culture at CSIRO.  Participants will be Disadvantaged.

                                          5 March 2013

The advocacy group “Victims of CSIRO” ( today cautioned its members against participation in CSIRO’s recently announced inquiry into workplace bullying at the organisation.

Spokesman Andrew Hooley said that, while the group strongly supports the need for an inquiry and welcomes CSIRO’s acknowledgement of that fact, the current terms of reference are hopelessly and irretrievably flawed.

Hooley said: “We’ve spent considerable time reading and re-reading the documentation provided by the CSIRO-appointed investigator, Professor Dennis Pearce.  Some of our members have also been in contact with Professor Pearce’s office.  We have further sought a legal opinion on the potential ramifications of engaging in the investigation.”

“Unfortunately, we cannot advise our members to participate in this inquiry.  There is a fundamental conflict of interest in that the investigation will formally report to the most senior managers of CSIRO, who are alleged to be the very persons responsible for the apparently toxic culture.”

“There is, moreover, a total lack of transparency in the investigative process.  Those same senior managers of CSIRO who will take receipt of the report are not obliged to act upon the findings of the investigator or even publish the report.

Furthermore, the terms of reference render numerous submissions ineligible for investigation, particularly those of the most serious nature.  Allegations of criminal conduct will, for example, not be considered.  The proposition that CSIRO has on numerous occasions concealed and supressed the reporting of alleged criminal conduct to relevant authorities whilst simultaneously retrenching the whistleblowers, will therefore not even be considered.”

This exercise cannot possibly get to the bottom of the alleged bullying culture at CSIRO and who is responsible”.

“In short, there is no foreseeable benefit in participation for anyone who has suffered workplace bullying and other forms of misconduct at the hands of CSIRO.  Participants will, instead, be potentially disadvantaged in any future legal claims made against the CSIRO.  Victims of workplace bullying will, additionally, be identified and afforded little to no protection from retaliation.”

“For these reasons, we cannot in all good faith, advise our members to participate in this inquiry.”

“These fatally flawed terms of reference have arisen because CSIRO failed to consult with the stakeholders.  This has resulted in a cynical exercise that will, we believe, only serve to further cover-up serious misconduct within the most senior echelons at CSIRO.  In our opinion, the only people served by the investigation in its current format are those who have an interest in avoiding scrutiny.”

“The terms of reference appear to us to be a premeditated breach of CSIRO’s undertaking to have an open investigation. We believe that it represents a gross misuse of public funds.”

“Only a few months ago, the Parliamentary Inquiry on Workplace Bullying recommended as a minimum standard, that investigations of bullying should be totally independent of the organisation within which they are alleged to have occurred.  Yet, here we have a process funded by CSIRO, reporting to CSIRO, and transparent only to CSIRO.  This does not meet even the most basic condition recommended to Parliament.”

“We are not averse to working with the Investigator but cannot support an investigation conducted under the current Terms of Reference.”

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