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” (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.”

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4 Responses to “A Victim’s position on the recently announced Terms of Reference”

RSS Feed for Victims of Bullying, Harassment, and Victimisation in the CSIRO Comments RSS Feed

Will CSIRO ever concede that the public is not a bunch of foolish sheep that you can simply pull the wool over their eyes. It is time that the CSIRO show some leadership and address the allegations of an endemic culture of bullying against it with honour and dignity which the Australian community expects of it and not behave deceitfully with smoke and mirror strategies which are more appropriate for a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat than a premiere scientific organisation.

I am really impressed with this website. Having both witnessed and experienced bullying at CSIRO I also really want to give evidence at an inquiry into this issue and was very hopeful when I heard about an organisation-wide inquiry finally being undertaken by a former Commonwealth Ombudsman. Having participated in a so-called “independent inquiry” at CSIRO, which was anything but independent, I totally agree with the Victims’ assessment of the current inquiry. And I was disappointed that Prof Pearce has, for whatever reason, been unable to separate the inquiry he has been tasked with doing from the perception/reality that CSIRO is running it. But at the same time, I really want to give evidence. Since it appears that the main reason there is an inquiry taking place is due to the advocacy of the Victims’ site, if this were a genuine inquiry rather than a whitewash it would seem to be imperative/normal practice that the Victims group was consulted as part of this process. Can you let me and other know if such a consultation is taking place and if you believe that there will eventually be an inquiry that we can have confidence in? I was already damaged beyond belief by CSIRO “processes”. I want to give evidence, but I do not intend to put myself through that again. Thanks.

We are meeting with HWL Ebsworth to discuss our concerns with the current terms of reference and will provide updates

Thanks for the information. Your meeting sounds like a very positive step. Where there is a genuine intention on behalf of CSIRO to hold a truly independent inquiry then it is a relatively straightforward matter to address the serious concerns with existing terms of reference, and no reason why this should not be done. We wish you fruitful discussions with HWL Ebsworth and look forward to hearing that the concerns have been adequately addressed.

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