Suicidal Ideation and the CSIRO

Posted on April 18, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized |

This particular response by the CSIRO relating to a Question on Notice from a previous Senate Estimates Economics Committee hearing appears to have slipped through the cracks, most likely because because it was responded to well after the required date and only a couple of days prior to the following Senate Estimates Committee hearings on the 13th of Feburary.

There are some rather appalling statements made in this response, in particular what appears to be a suggestion that once an employee seeks treatment in relation to a suicidal ideation then it constitutes a personal rather than work related health issue.  It is preposterous to even suggest that someone who becomes suicidal while being rehabilitated as the result of workplace injury has no relationship to the work situation causing the issue.

The insinuation in the statement that attempted suicide “occurred offsite” and is therefore somehow less relevant or somehow diminishes the responsibility of the CSIRO in relation to its employees  just goes beyond the pail.

The CSIRO’s response to this question lays bare for all to see just how disfunctional and morally and ethically bankrupt its leadership really is!

Economics Legislation Committee
ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ON NOTICE
Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education Portfolio
Supplementary Budget Estimates Hearing 2012-13
17 October 2012
AGENCY/DEPARTMENT: COMMONWEALTH SCIENTIFIC AND INDUSTRIAL
RESEARCH ORGANISATION (CSIRO)

TOPIC: Mental Health
REFERENCE: Written Question – Senator Bushby
QUESTION No.: SI-81
Given the answer to BI-7 from the last round of Estimates, is CSIRO management’s position that it
is not aware of any incidents where CSIRO employees were in a suicidal state as a result of their
experience with the organisation – other than for those identified in a letter to Senator Evans in late
May 2012? Alternatively, if there are any other cases that fall into this category, please indicate
how many there have been in total during and since 2007.
ANSWER
The response to BI-7 related to staff on ‘suicide watch’ which is not a term used in CSIRO.
Suicide and suicidal behaviour arise from complex social, situational, biological and other
individual causes and are challenges facing the broader Australian community. The determination
as to whether or not someone is experiencing ‘suicidal ideation’, is appropriately diagnosed by
health professionals. CSIRO does not have a separate reporting system for suicide or ‘suicide state’.
Staff may choose to raise these confidential matters with their line manager and colleagues. Where
this occurs, such cases are dealt with locally by line managers’ supported by Human Resources,
Health & Safety staff and our Employee Assistance Provider and the cases will not in all cases be
reported in our health and safety systems.
CSIRO’s Employee Assistance Provider has advised that due to the complexity of the suicide issue,
by the time an individual seeks support, the matter is a personal one. CSIRO’s Employee Assistance
Provider does not provide information on individual cases but does provide reports showing the
number of cases where staff, or their family members, approach them for assistance. Between 2007
and 2 November 2012 the Employee Assistance Provider has supported 10 staff and family
members where the primary issue presented was suicidal state. There have been no workers
compensation claims, or health and safety incident reports since 2007 for suicide. There are two
staff that CSIRO is aware of on worker’s compensation, where, during the course of their long-term
rehabilitation they have attempted suicide. This occurred off site in both instances. There is one
staff member CSIRO is aware of on worker’s compensation, where, during the course of their longterm
rehabilitation a family member advised the organisation their partner was considering suicide.
There is one staff member CSIRO is aware of on worker’s compensation, where, during the course
of their long-term rehabilitation has advised the organisation they are considering suicide. There
are three cases that CSIRO is aware of where a staff member advised the organisation they were
thinking of suicide.

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