Terms of Reference – The Ever Shifting Goal Posts

Posted on October 30, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized |

It would seem that once again the goal posts have shifted in the CSIRO Investigation into Workplace Bulling and other Misconduct.  The Victims of CSIRO’s attention was drawn to yet another change in the Terms of Reference for the investigation on the 9th of October 2013, the third such reinvention of the Terms of Reference to date.

Despite significant criticism from stakeholders over the lack of consultation in developing the Terms of Reference, the investigator and CSIRO continue to tinker with the terms, apparently in an attempt to address the glaring inadequacies inherent in the original Terms which we understand to have been drafted by CSIRO’s Legal Department under the direction of Deputy CEO, Mr Mike Whelan, who was conspicuously absent during the publication and mass media spin-doctoring of the Stage 1 report.

The notable changes are in the following sections of the latest Terms of Reference.

18A Notwithstanding paragraphs 16 and 17, the investigator may during Phase 2 investigate a submission if the investigator has in Phase 1 recommended to CSIRO that CSIRO should allow the investigator to further investigate that submission during Phase 2 and CSIRO has accepted the recommendation.

30A Phase 1 may continue after 31 July 2013 for submissions in respect of which the investigator was not able to complete his initial consideration of the submission by that date.

Section 30A suggests that the investigation team are fishing around for more information relating to some of the claims which some educated people voted with their feet by electing not to participate in.  In fact we have received a number of comments from individuals whom the investigator specifically sought out (assumedly upon the advice of CSIRO) who had elected to steer well clear of the investigation process.  We believe that some of these individuals may have also been contacted after the closing date for submissions.

These changes in the Terms of Reference may also potentially enable the CSIRO to move the investigation of such matters out of public view into a grey legal area in which the CSIRO could potentially claim professional privilege over the material, thus preventing the people it relates to obtaining such material under FOI provisions…

The notable omission in Section 30A is a revised date for when ongoing Stage 1 investigations must be completed (assumedly when the CSIRO stops paying the bills which could be a very long time).

We hope that the incumbent government will put a stop to this farce and initiate a credible and transparent investigation which is truly at arm’s length from the organisation purportedly sponsoring it!

Despite the issuing of an Improvement Notice to CSIRO last year which was highly critical of the shortcomings in CSIRO’s processes and the Stage 1 Investigation Report, revealing a general lack of adherence to what policies the CSIRO does have in relation to workplace misconduct and workplace bullying, the Victims of CSIRO continues to receive information from current employees indicating that little has changed.

It is quite obvious that neither the Comcare Improvement Notice or the Stage 1 Report has resulted in no significant positive change in the overall culture of the organisation and is at best, a tick in the box of a paper management team.

We also note that a significant proportion of CSIRO’s senior management have been quietly slipping out the door, apparently to avoid further scrutiny of their actions and culpability and question whether this “practice” truly reflects the CSIRO’s stated public commitment to address such serious workplace issues.

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