Does the COMmonwealth really CARE?
Yesterday, Comcare Chief Executive Officer, Mr Paul O’Connor appeared before the Senate Estimates Legislative Committee, announcing a glowing report card for the CSIRO, in its response to issues of workplace bullying and other psychosocial factors which create serious workplace health issues.
Mr O’Connor also made statements indicating that Comcare would continue to monitor the compliance of the CSIRO in meeting its workplace safety obligations to its employees.
The statements of Mr O’Connor could not be further for the truth.
The Victims of CSIRO have been monitoring the progress of a number of concurrent Health and Safety complaints relating to bullying and victimisation of staff within the CSIRO, including numerous separate complaints originating from a single CSIRO site, some of which involve the same alleged offender.
In one instance, an employee is alleged to have complained to Comcare about ongoing bullying by a supervisor spanning a number of years. The complaint was supported by a number of other current and former employees, some of whom stated that they had also been bullied by the same supervisor.
Comcare have declined to investigate the matter, despite many of these incidents having occurred subsequent to the issuing of an Improvement Notice to CSIRO by Comcare.
The CSIRO yet again failed in its reporting obligations to Comcare by failing to advise Comcare of these allegations.
It would also appear that Comcare has failed to follow up on allegations made at a previous senate estimates regarding inappropriate conduct relating to up to 10 female staff by a senior CSIRO officer.
In 2012, the Victims of CSIRO wrote to ComCare advising the organisation of 12 separate credible complaints relating to inappropriate behaviour by CSIRO officers.
Comcare responded to the Victims of CSIRO declining to investigate individual complaints, stating that the Improvement Notice issued to CSIRO would be sufficient in addressing the issues raised by the group.
It is clearly evident that the issuing of the Comcare Improvement Notice has not significantly improved the toxic workplace culture within the CSIRO and that further measures are warranted.
One only has to look at the evidence presented to and the Decision made in Williams and Comcare  AATA 902 (19 December 2012).
Does Comcare intend to prosecute CSIRO and individual CSIRO staff for breaches of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1991 for their actions against Martin Williams which were in breach of their obligation to protect his health and safety at work?
Will the Comcare prosecution take into account the fact that Deputy President J. W. Constance of the Australian Administrative Appeals Tribunal in his Decision found both that the actions of named senior CSIRO staff caused very serious injury to Mr Williams and that statements of those individuals, including those taken under oath in his presence, were not accepted as factual by him?
Will the Comcare prosecution take into account the fact that the most senior CSIRO officer in charge of the subject CSIRO redundancy process, Group Executive, Dr Steve Morton (a deputy to the CEO) revealed that CSIRO had undertaken sham selection processes involving Mr Williams and that lead to the revelation that CSIRO had sent false emails to him and that these actions contributed to his injury?
Will the Comcare prosecution take into account the fact that aiding, abetting, counselling, procuring, inducing, conspiring with others to effect a breach, or in any way, by act or omission, directly or indirectly, knowingly being concerned in or party to a breach of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1991 are offences?
Or will Comcare continue to wring its collective hands, complaining about the spiralling cost of the scheme and attempting to blame injured workers for the blowout in its costs, when clearly the heart of matter lies with Comcare’s own failure to protect workers for toxic work environments and to ensure that those injured receive adequate and timely assistance to return to the workforce. Comcare appears to have done neither where the CSIRO is concerned.
Victims of CSIRO again calls upon Comcare to commence an in-depth investigation into the complaints raised in relation to incidents of bullying and victimisation within the CSIRO.