Tuesday, September 18, 2012

WEASEL WORDS AT CANBERRA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY


Trust a weasel word?



'Weasel words' is an informal term for words and phrases that, while communicating a vague or ambiguous claim, create an impression that something specific and meaningful has been said. Weasel words manage to vaguely imply meaning far beyond the claim actually made. (Definition by Wikipedia)

The latest report by Canberra Institute of Technology 'Progress so Far' August 2012, is a case in point. 

The following is straight from CIT's website under 'Media' .

24 Aug 2012
Progress report on the Minister for Education and Training’s Direction to the Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT) to comply with the WorkSafe ACT report of 11 April 2012
On 12 April 2012, WorkSafe ACT issued an improvement notice to the Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT) forfailure to have an adequate system for preventing or responding to allegations from its workers of bullying and harassment arising from their work as part of CIT’s undertaking. On 12 April 2012, the Minister for Education and Training issued a direction to CIT, which echoed the elements of the WorkSafe Improvement notice.
CIT has complied with this direction in a comprehensive and timely manner. This progress report was tabled by the Minister in the Legislative Assembly on Thursday 23 August 2012. This report summarises the progress CIT has made to meet the requirements of this Ministerial Direction and briefly outlines CIT’s strategy to continue to build and maintain a positive workplace culture.
Click here to view the report (MS Word 50Kb).

I am most interested in the fact that the centre I once worked for was one of only four at CIT named as being of 'most concern' to the commissioner and the minister, so I will comment on them.  Any reader with comments about their experience from another centre and whether the report reads truthfully 'or weasley' - is welcome to contact me. We can put up your feedback without using your name.

And here are excerpts from the report, the report mentions in particular Communications Media and Music (where I worked) - a department in the Centre for Creative Industries:



CIT creative industries


The aim of the work within CIT Creative Industries has been to build resilience and understanding in individuals of the wider vocational education and training environment.  This is being done in parallel to addressing industrial matters impacting on the teaching staff. Changes within the educational leadership have occurred resulting in a more stable environment. There have also been a number of meetings of groups in the Centre, to manage the change process and monitor staff relations. The well-being of the management team is being supported by the CIT Executive.

Next steps
A development program will be implemented for new managers and longstanding managers to build collaborative ways of working, focussing on change and staff behaviour. By the end of the year the leadership of this Centre will have created a management blueprint for how they intend to work together. There will be team-based discussions leading to team-building in 2013.  


Hello? How in the hell is resilience and understanding ...  of the wider vocational education and training environment relevant in any way to the problems of bullying and unprofessional behaviour at Creative Industries and one of its departments Communication Media and Music in particular? What does it even MEAN?


Here's a beauty for weasel speak: This is being done in parallel to addressing industrial matters impacting on the teaching staff.  Oh really? what industrial matters impacting on what staff? If I was marking this as part of my students work I would fail it for being a completely meaningless piece of miss communication. I'd be demanding to know the What? When? Why? and especially the HOW?

Here's another gem ...

Changes within the educational leadership have occurred resulting in a more stable environment. 


This is incredible.WHAT CHANGES? ... Kerry dear, you are quite welcome to drop me a line and tell me where I am wrong and I will stand corrected on this because as far as your ordinary staff are concerned, nothing has happened in your management structure relevant to dealing with the FACT of the years of bullying that has been going on (don't forget the report itself names your centre as one of most concerning), not to mention other unprofessional behaviour currently under investigation.

If changes to management is referring to the education manager from CMM who left in January - that is an insult as that person had an exemplary record in her work ethics and how she carried out her job. If it refers to a former education manager on the Reid campus who has recently lost her case, then the only person 'more stable' because of it is the person who is left standing. The important thing is that NEITHER  of these changes do anything to make the environment more stable except in the imagination of those who feel they have 'won'  - for now.


Yet more weaseling ...There have also been a number of meetings of groups in the Centre, to manage the change process and monitor staff relations. 

Ok, now I must repeat myself and ask Who? What? When? Where? and HOW? Who has been trusted to hold these meetings considering that this centre is 'one of great concern?' (I love saying that) Could it be that the bullies themselves (whoever they may be) are involved in these meetings? That seems obvious by the words; meetings of groups IN THE CENTRE.


I wouldn't trust those in management there to monitor my 'staff relations' ... and neither would many who work there!

The most massive clanger of all is this; The well-being of the management team is being supported by the CIT Executive. What do they need support in exactly? In covering their own arses? And by the CEO no less? (unless they mean the deputy CEO and yes, she is mentor for someone else high up, my my how they stick together). Do you think it was the management team who were bullied over the years? Are being bullied now? What an absolute insult to all of the ordinary workers most but not all of them casual staff, bullied out of their jobs over the years, AND to the bullied students. Management are usually (and the case is not different here),  the ones with the full-time permanent jobs and all of the power, so it stuns me that they need 'supporting' - the poor dear things. Would that be support as in:


adherent, advocate, ally, angel*, apologist,backbone, backer, benefactor, champion,cohort, comforter, confederate, coworker,defender, disciple, endorser, espouser,exponent, expounder, fan, follower, friend,helper, mainstay, maintainer, partisan, patron,pillar, preserver, prop, proponent, satellite,second, sponsor, stalwart, stay, subscriber,supporter, sustainer, tower of strength,upholder, well-wisher ?

A more relevant term to apply (and practice in their case, considering they are of 'great concern') would be to keep in eye on them as in;

 administer, be in charge, be in driver's seat, be in the saddle, be on duty, be responsible for, boss,call the play, call the shots, chaperon, conduct,control, crack the whip, deal with, direct, handle,inspect, keep an eye on, look after, overlook,oversee, preside over, quarterback, ride herd on,run, run the show, run things, sit on top of,superintend, survey, take care of !

And more than anything, some monitoring would be in order as in:

monitor; adviser, auditor, counselor, director, eaves-dropper, guide, informant, invigilator, listener,overseer, supervisor, watchdog


CONSIDERING they are clearly implicated in NOT doing the right thing over many years according to Commissioner Mark McCabes report, it is not support they need ... but something else. Where is the support FOR THE BULLIED STAFF? Where is a single mention of the progress of that 'so far'? They are just in their little full-time/permanent huddle taking care of themselves as per usual, hoping to get away with past failings, promising to be 'good girls and boys' in the future, and hoping the past will just go away. 

If the above is the proof  they are dishing up to the minister to be tabled in the Legislative Assembly then he needs to know how soundly they are pulling the wool over his eyes.


I love this bit:



Next steps


A development program will be implemented for new managers and longstanding managers to build collaborative ways of working, focussing on change and staff behaviour.


Yes, lets take care of MANAGEMENT again ... and allow THEM to focus on change and STAFF BEHAVIOUR ... err, what if the management both new and 'longstanding' ARE the bullies? Would you trust them to collaborate with you? They didn't 'collaborate' with me - it is not their way. How are they qualified (sigh, seeing as they are 'of concern') to monitor or in any way comment on staff behaviour?

It's more the case that staff should no longer feel afraid to complain and should be listened to, collaborated with, not bullied and ignored, (thanks for all the ignored emails Kerry, yes yes, I know, as a mere casual why give a shit about me?). The problem has been and is, that as McCabes report says, it is the amount of casual staff that CIT employs that is itself a way of bullying. So, when I and many others refused to be pushed around by abusive bullying managers, or were simply not a favoured species, not 'yes' people, or others were jealous and wanted our jobs, as casuals, it was easy to pass off our summary dismissal as necessary for 'operational reasons' ... I will comment on the weasel words written to me personally in another post.

Ok, and now for the end of the section on Creative Industries ...



By the end of the year the leadership of this Centre will have created a management blueprint for how they intend to work together. There will be team-based discussions leading to team-building in 2013.  

So the leadership will create a management blueprint of how THEY will work TOGETHER? have I missed something here? Has all of the bullying been between the management? What in the HELL are team based discussions? Between who? about what? when? What team? Who needs 'building up'? the management team? Will these wonderful managers come up with a way to stop themselves bullying the staff? Now, that would be nice.

Disclaimer
I am not claiming that all or even most management at Creative Industries have been or are bullies. There are people of high integrity there - not that those ones have had much luck in protecting their staff against the worst and not for want of trying either... Nice people by their natures find it difficult to 'stand up' while some of those most in power have most to learn and most to remedy.











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