I wrote to Andrew Kefford outlining my concerns with how things were now being handled at CIT since his report - specifically as I indicated in my last blog the fact that Jenny Dodd is handling things from here. Below are the relevant parts of his answer;
As I outlined in my Annual Report last year, the operation of the relevant legislation and industrial agreements mean that the Director of CIT or their delegate must make decisions on individual misconduct matters. The Commissioner has no capacity to intervene.
Ok, well I have seen no annual report (how did I miss that?) and even if that is the case, what I am saying is that you do indeed have a lot of power behind you Mr Kefford if you choose to use it, considering that you report directly to the Chief Minister. She can intervene at any time and can ask the Head of Service Andrew Cappie-Wood or even the minister of education to act.
Also, I do not think that any of us who put in complaints understood fully the limits of what you were proposing. I asked the question over and over of the investigators and by letters to Mr Kefford and the Chief Minister that were ignored I might add until last week - whether we would ever get individual justice and was given very vague answers each time. At one point I was told that there were ‘so many’ individual complaints that CIT were given a kind of ‘blanket report’ at the end of 2012. Then I pressed and was told that CIT were required to give me an answer at some time – I presume by letter? This prospect does not cheer me much though, as I have seen files and files of letters sent by complainants going back years and I have seen the pathetic responses, half-truths, fudging, evasive tactics, denials, and down-right lies told by senior CIT staff in response. Frankly, I am still no clearer about whether I will ever get an answer from CIT so I wonder why I bothered to put in a complaint in the first place. Though I must say, if it makes things more transparent and fair for future employees I am glad it I have had a part in that but to be honest, I do not believe that will be the result.
We were assured at one time that there was capacity for disciplinary action against CIT staff who were found to have been a part of bullying and/or other professional misconduct. We were also assured that the minister had powers to summon and question those accused of bullying and when I declared that they would just refuse or lie as usual I was told ‘If they are subpoenaed in court they won’t have a choice’.
So you see, we really thought the bullied, current disgusted staff at CIT, and the Canberra Community would eventually see something concrete happening at CIT.
Kefford’s office invited us to make complaints, concentrated on interviewing us and getting us to sign off on our individual complaints but never contacted us in any way or gave us some kind of progress reports or assurances of what was happening or indeed feedback of ANY KIND nor support (that at times we have so desperately needed). We were not told when the report went to CIT, we were not told to expect our complaints to go to Jenny Dodd, and we have never been told clearly what this process would mean. In other words, Kefford‘s office has treated us exactly as CIT has – they have not felt it necessary to answer our questions and everything that affects us has been done behind closed doors and in secret! Kept in the dark and fed nothing but bullshit! Where's the tip-up in this Mr Kefford?
''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.'' (Commissioner Andrew Kefford, October 3, 2012 quoted in an article by Noel Towell Canberra Times).
We expected a more direct course of action for our individual complaints. We expected to be in some way vindicated. We put our necks on the line and as far as we could see our complaints fell into a bottomless pit – that is where I believe they are now with this current state of affairs.
Will Jenny Dodd write to me for example and tell me that she has found my complaints against X and Y well founded and tell me what she has done to remedy it? Will she tell X to write to me and tell me the truth of why she got rid of me or will Jenny Dodd, as has happened all the way along, merely do whatever she can to protect permanent staff at CIT at the expense of contract and casual staff even if they are wrong because mere casual/contract staff are absolutely expendable and who cares who lies to them?
A part of the problem is that in disciplining staff – for example staff that made decisions while in positions of power they had no legal right to be in – CIT exposes its own failure to comply with industrial law in the process. This has been the case ALL ALONG – and is why this situation developed at CIT in the first place. I do not believe Jenny Dodd will (potentially) implicate herself, her mates or her workplace by admitting these failings but do please, by all means Jenny prove me wrong!
Even a ‘Truth and reconciliation process’ would satisfy me (I can’t speak for others). I would happily meet with Jenny Dodd and others and have an apology for what happened to me, an assurance that they would act properly in the future and an undertaking that I am free to work at CIT and do not appear on some kind of ‘Black List’.
As to the question of whether an independent process was undertaken by Kefford’s office, I have no reason to doubt it. It is the current outcome of this process under Jenny Dodd that disturbs me. Here is Mr Kefford’s answer regarding his office as part of the process;
As is set out in the published terms of reference, my Office has independently conducted a series of investigations, culminating in a report I provided to CIT late last year which made recommendations in relation to individual matters. Ms Dodd has now made her decisions in relation to those matters and the message you received is part of her response.
Well Mr Kefford, where is your responsibility to see that Ms Dodd does indeed take some recognisable action in regard to your report and recommendations? Will a report be written by your office or the office of the Chief Minister as the final part in this puzzle? What happens next Mr Kefford? Are you still a part of the process? Is your job over?
If as promised – this process was open clear and transparent – I would not need to be asking most of the questions above and the stress, anxiety, confusion and disappointment of many of the bullied would not exist either.
And now a final word from Ms Dodd herself;
I acknowledge that this will be a difficult period for CIT staff involved in this process. Should you feel the need for support during this process please contact our Employee Assistance Program provider IPS Worldwide on 1300 366 789. (Jenny Dodd CIT CEO (Acting) June 2013).