Friday, November 15, 2013

LETS GET THIS CLEAR - THERE'S A GRUB IN THE APPLE

Funny how CIT management are taking the words uttered by the commissioner in his report  and using it as a battering ram to close down discussion - or to at least create a smoke screen. It is unfortunate that the commissioner said this, I don't know why it was necessary because it is being used smugly by the minister and higher management at CIT to minimise the impact and seriousness of some aspects of the investigation.


"The Commissioner found that CIT is NOT characterised by a culture of entrenched and systemic bullying.

The report did identify some issues in relation to a small number of individuals and particular areas within CIT, some of which reopened historical matters and decisions made ten years ago.  

The Commissioner was clear in his report that those concerns should not be allowed to taint the whole organisation and that CIT staff members, almost without exception, are professional, behave properly, and are dedicated to the advancement of their students and to the success of CIT. " [Minister Burch ACT Legislative Assembly October 2013].

Get this right - we bullied loved working at CIT. We enjoyed the students and our colleagues  We had good relationships with them. We still believe that CIT is a great educational institution where top quality teaching and learning still goes on. We were ALL (I can't think of a case where this is not the case) affected AS A DIRECT RESULT OF MANAGEMENT including of those right up to the CEO.

CIT IS NOT THE MINISTER, CIT IS NOT THE ACTING CEO OR THE CEO CIT is the students, and then the staff. The management are the smallest section of CIT but they ARE the ones with all of the power to speak on behalf of CIT. It is THE MANAGEMENT who are responsible for the mess, and it is still largely THAT SAME MANAGEMENT who are assuring everyone that things have changed and ticking off Steve Doszpot in the ACT Legislative Assembly for his 'negativity' when he continues to question aspects of the investigation.

The failure of management WAS HUGE! It was not the place, the colleagues  the students - it was the ROTTEN management structure that made this mess. So in this sense, it WAS systemic because the administrative/management system WAS systemically rotten to the core. (With notable exceptions of course, but the bullies were stronger).

The HR department hand in hand with the then deputy CEO and other higher management did everything to minimise and at times SHUT UP complainants. Some complainants were described as 'mentally ill' or having 'difficult personalities'. Geez, 'difficult personalities' does not even begin to describe the actions of some of the CIT bullies. And if some of us were not suffering mental illness at the time, you can understand why we might be now! 

In every case where a level 1 teacher or a lower staff member had a complaint, the minute they complained HIGHER MANAGEMENT JUMPED to the defense of lower management - in many cases Education Managers - often against the knowledge of a clear history of long term and ongoing bullying and/or unprofessional behaviour of the manager.

For example in my case, I reported to my immediate manager - who did nothing. Then I went to see the the Centre Director who said "All of you complain about this person but none of you will put in official complaints,  I can only do something if you do". When I pointed out that I believed (and had been warned by colleagues) that COMPLAINTS AGAINST Management AT CIT GO NOWHERE AND WILL AFFECT YOUR EMPLOYMENT, he said he would 'protect me' from this person. I then asked what would happen if he leaves? He did leave - largely bullied out of the place himself.

What happened was that as soon as a new education manager and an acting director came in at the same time, I had a meeting with them to let them know what had been going on. The ed manager was powerless, the director was a 'mate' of the manager in question and minimised my complaint advising me not to put in a formal complaint. I then complained to two more education managers and the newly employed centre director - who merely ignored my email.  It was quite clear that I was a pesky casual (once the bully made sure my contract was not renewed) who was complaining too vigorously, and if they ignored me long enough I would probably go away.

I then opted to go to the HR area and I directly put it to the representative there that there was no way he was unaware of the many historic and ongoing problems both students and teachers were experiencing with this person.

He was silent, and to my request for 'an outside agency' to supervise an attempt at mediation - I was still hoping for positive change - he declared imperiously "WE will look at your complaint and WE will decide if that is necessary". Of course by then I did not know who to trust at CIT and told him so.

Well, I did have outside mediation, and feedback from other staff friendly to me was that this person thought it was quite a joke. Meanwhile, this person was 'grooming' someone else to make sure I was not re-employed. He had ALREADY improperly 'protested' the extension of my contract saying 'the work is not here' - funny that, because that same work in still there today 16/11/13 being undertaken by at least 4 people immediately after  I left - two of them new casuals, and two who arrived at CIT after me. Today there are still 3 teaching in the areas I was teaching.


After the mediation was completed the agency then rang me and told me that the person (mentioned above) in the HR section, had told the agency not to bother to put in a written report about the mediation, that it was enough to just verbally tell him that 'the mediation was held, and it is all resolved.' The agency said to me "Is this what you want?" I told them no way, that that sounded very suspicious to me and that I wanted a written report to go to my manager, my centre director, the person in HR mentioned above, and of course  - the other side of the mediation process. So perhaps the report is on file at CIT?

Then when I was not re-employed, I  wrote to the CEO and when it was clear he would do nothing I finally put in a formal complaint to Andrew Kefford's office. When I approached the then CEO face to face - because he ignored every other attempt at communication with me - he declared with some anger and disgust "But you have gone to the commissioner!" So this was CIT's excuse for ignoring staff and previous staff, We'd had the hide to go to the commissioner and they washed their hands of us until the investigation was completed - and that was now more than two years ago!

Meanwhile, we have managed to glean dribs and drabs of information from current CIT staff, media, and some - but not the most important from Andrew Kefford's office but ONLY IF WE ASKED A SPECIFIC QUESTION - and, the answers to those questions were unclear, convoluted, confusing and not at all frank and transparent. Often, we did not know what question to ask in the first place! For example, it took us two years to understand that we would have no right of reply to those we had accused at CIT and that for the most part, CIT would be handed our complaints (all of our most personal pain on paper) and would then investigate them internally! Internally! With our bullies still firmly ensconced in jobs at CIT!

I do not know how well informed current staff were as to new policies and procedures but I have just today found in Hansard that CIT have apparently indeed been working on new management training and policies and it seems particularly on the Performance Management  System - which I have pointed out often in others places, is unfair and facilitated some bullying. But still, I  (we) do not know any details - I am expected to trust the Commissioners Office and CIT on absolutely no evidence! CIT and Andrew Kefford's office could have at ANY TIME given us some reassurance such as circulars where we were made aware of the new policies. They could even have directed us to the appropriate dates of Hansard - we are not politicians, many are deep in depression and despair, many of us had to work hard to work out where and how to find these discussions.


Even on reading the discussions in Hansard, that are full of mere assurances - we still lack the detail.  As you will see later - the apology from the acting CEO is also bereft of detail that we can hold on to and believe.

We have had no champion in our cause so far, and the only politician asking the difficult questions at the moment is Steve Doszpot. I think this investigation has come to its limits and should move elsewhere. What do you think?


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