A Victim’s position on the recently announced Terms of Reference
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” (victimsofcsiro.com) 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.”