See the letter to the CM from Steve Doszpot and her reply on the next post. Contact me if you would like a better copy. Cheers, Lorese.
8 September 2014
Ms Katy Gallagher
ACT Legislative Assembly
GPO Box 1020
CANBERRA ACT 2600
Dear Chief Minister
Notwithstanding the long term investigations into alleged incidents of bullying at CIT, I am writing to express my strong concerns about possible denial of natural justice to a number of current and former staff of the CIT during this process.
As you would know, the Commissioner for Public Administration received a number of complaints about management practices at CIT that came both before and after a damning report from Worksafe ACT into CIT work practices. Following this, Mr Andrew Kefford was tasked with investigating those and subsequent complaints. His report “Investigation into the Management of complaints of Bullying and harassment and related issues at the Canberra Institute of Technology” was given to CIT in December 2012. In that report he made a number of recommendations including, inter alia, that individual complaints be referred for investigation as misconduct.
CIT management took seven months to reply and as a consequence it was determined there was no case to answer in each of the 42 cases.
Since that time, many of the complainants have advised me that they have not been provided any opportunity to see the response by those who were the subject of their complaints or any information about the apparently ‘thorough investigation’ that led to each of the claims being dismissed.
In short, they have been asked to accept there was no substance to their allegations, without the opportunity to rebut any of the responses provided to CIT Management that led to their cases being dismissed, and decided by the very body against whom those complaints were made.
As you would know, natural justice requires a person be given the right to a fair hearing, the right to present one’s case, the right to be heard by an unbiased and disinterested decision maker and the right to have that decision based on logically probative evidence.
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My concerns that this has not occurred in these cases is based on the following:
1. That their complaints were assessed by the institution that had engaged those accused, so there was bias or at least a perceived conflict of interest, and therefore a denial of the right to an unbiased and disinterested decision maker;
2. Those alleged to have engaged in bullying behaviour were provided with details of the allegations against them; but the complainants were not provided the same opportunity to examine counter-claims against them. They had no offer to review, rebut or correct the responses, which seems, prima facie to be a denial of the right to properly present their case in full;
3. Since being advised there was no basis for their claims, I understand no material has been made available to the complainants to support that finding, and I am advised they will need to seek that information under FOI legislation, which makes it impossible to verify whether the counter-arguments are logically probative and sound; and may offend the no evidence rule.
4. While the relevant Minister, Ms Joy Burch, originally indicated that material would be available, she has subsequently denied that offer being made and I am not aware of any of the 42 complainants receiving any material.
Chief Minister, we often say justice must not only be done, it must be seen to be done, and there seems in the case of some of these complainants that has not happened.
I ask whether in the circumstances you consider procedural fairness has been applied in all these cases and whether natural justice has been given to the 42 complainants, each of whom to this day have no idea as to the detail of the investigation of their complaints and the basis on which a decision was made to dismiss their claims.
Given the length of time this issue has already taken, I look forward to a timely response.
Member for Molonglo