Tuesday, October 16, 2012


A stack of mounting evidence

Bullying reports up in public service
October 3, 2012
Noel Towell


Twelve territory bureaucrats were sacked from their jobs in 2011-2012 for
serious misbehaviour. Photo: Peter Braig

Bullying and harassment complaints in the ACT's Public Service continued to
increase in the past financial year, although fewer than one in 10 of the
allegations was substantiated.

But the latest State of the Service report shows that there is now a
seven-strong team working full-time probing 57 historic complaints of
bullying at the Canberra Institute of Technology.

The report also reveals that across the 22,000-strong ACT public service, 12
territory bureaucrats were sacked from their jobs in 2011-2012 for serious
misbehaviour. Another 25 were given a first or final written warning, 29
were counselled and four were demoted.

The largest number of reports against public servants during the period was
against 41 workers for allegedly failing in their duty to treat colleagues
and the public with respect and courtesy.


But 11 were accused of taking ''improper advantage'' of their jobs to take
or seek benefits for themselves or others, another nine were alleged to have
failed to ''act with probity''.
Two public servants found themselves in trouble for failing to ''avoid waste
and extravagance in the use of property of the territory''.

Commissioner for Public Administration Andrew Kefford confirmed the
investigations into the allegations that have plagued CIT since the 1990s
remained a work of progress. He said there were five public service
investigators on the case as well as an analyst to co-ordinate and
streamline, and a transcription and administrative support officer.
''The challenge here is the need to do it properly but do it quickly and I
deliberately haven't said when it will be finished,'' Mr Kefford said. ''It
will be finished when we get to the end and that's not seeking to be
evasive, that's me not seeking to put an artificial deadline on it.''

Mr Kefford said he took the elevated levels of bullying and harassment
claims as a sign government employees felt more able to speak out.
''We're higher this year, but the service has grown, in absolute terms, the
numbers are growing,'' Mr Kefford said.
''But we've been making real efforts around the respect equity and diversity
[RED] framework.

''We've been saying to staff very clearly that we want them to speak up,
that the RED framework gives you a language to speak up and framework within
which you can speak up, and so if we were investing this effort and not
seeing a tip-up, we'd be concerned.''

Mr Kefford said he expected to see the numbers of allegations level off
before dropping.
''We want to see those numbers come back down again,'' he said.
''This year we had 71 reports, we investigated 55, we substantiated 11 and
we're getting better at talking about it.
''We're getting better at talking about it, we're getting better at doing
something about it.
''There'll be a staff survey next year and what that will give us a sense
of, as some of the other jurisdiction have, is a measure of the lived
''Yes, the numbers are up, each one of them is one too many and they're all
distressing for the individual involved, but part of what that shows and
part of why I'm being so open about it is to say we are serious about
changing this aspect and there are processes that people can follow and I
want them to come forward.''

''71 is 71 too many, but you put that in a context of a head count of
20,000, and it's not a huge proportion of the workforce.''

Comment by Lorese ...HOWEVER, 57 people out of a workforce of about 1,200 at CIT is NOT a smal representation.

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