Letters to the editor

Katy Gallagher is quoted as saying that ''no magic bullet exists'' to deal with the major problem of bullying in the ACT public sector (''Gallagher defends handling of bullying claims'', November 11, p1). Sorry, Katy - wrong.

Through 2012 and 2013, I held discussions with the Commissioner for Public Administration and the director of the ACT Centre for Spirituality and Christianity about the establishment of a modified process of truth and reconciliation to deal with the systemic bullying problem identified within an individual ACT government agency.

It was clear that such a process could be adapted to deal with individual agencies which have discrete populations and cultures. It provides for both victims and perpetrators of alleged abuses to seek justice and healing without the need for excessive retribution, and to identify the bases of abusive cultures and remedy them. Is it a magic bullet? Ask South Africans who avoided a bloody retribution post-apartheid.

There exists within the ACT an experienced facilitator of T&R who has worked with Desmond Tutu and who could oversee such a process. What is lacking is an appetite in the ACT government to address this serious issue in a serious and holistic manner.
 Mike Fitzgerald, Ballymore, County Kerry, Ireland

One of the main reason for high levels of bullying within the ACT administration is that managers are able to bully and if they are accused, they will not be held accountable. In the investigation into bullying within CIT, complaints were received from 60 staff, mostly teachers, some with multiple allegations of bullying. Not one case of bullying from these 60-plus allegations was found to be proved through a process that was demonstrably flawed.

Documented commitments by the Commission for Public Administration about how the investigation would be undertaken were not honoured, and the investigation was little more than a whitewash designed to clear CIT of any wrongdoing.

Some allegations were not even investigated and no final report has been issued.
It would appear the rules were changed to suit the aim of ensuring there were no adverse findings against CIT.

The Chief Minister and the Commissioner for Public Administration consider the CIT matter closed and will not respond to the correspondence, even though they have been advised that evidence of the flawed investigation has been uncovered through FOI requests. Bullying will continue within the ACT administration until the most senior managers and ministers take steps to show they mean what that say about stopping bullying. In other words, walk the walk, don't talk the talk. Unless action is shown to have been taken against bullies, then those who use bullying as a management tool will continue in confidence that they will not be held accountable for their actions.
R.and J.Knight, Bywong, NSW