CSIRO bully accusations 'dodgy', says executive
The CSIRO facility on Limestone Avenue. Photo: Andrew Sheargold
Some of the bullying and harassment claims from within the CSIRO are ''pretty dodgy'', according to a senior executive.
As the CSIRO announced details of its independent review of its workplace culture, Commonwealth parliamentarians have been told to treat with caution some of the claims made by former employees.
CSIRO chief executive Megan Clark told staff on Monday that the review would be led by former Commonwealth ombudsman and emeritus professor Dennis Pearce, one of Australia's leading experts on administrative law.
The organisation has been dogged for several years by claims of bullying and harassment, one group of alleged victims garnering considerable publicity and setting up victimsofcsiro.com to pursue their cause.
But CSIRO deputy chief executive of operations Mike Whelan told a Senate estimates committee in Canberra last week that some of the claims that had attracted publicity were suspect.
''Lots of allegations have been tossed around by stakeholders and media in recent times and I would have to say that the basis for some of those are pretty dodgy,'' he said.
''Over the last three years, to October 2012, there have been 11 allegations of bullying and harassment made in the CSIRO and 10 of those have subsequently not been substantiated.''
Mr Whelan was also critical of the claims made on the site.
''There are entries on that website that purport to detail the case studies of at least 14 victims of CSIRO and I know for a fact that two of the individuals cited there have indicated to CSIRO that they are not victims, that they have not supported the material being put on that website and that they are uncomfortable about being associated with this,'' he said.
In her bulletin to the organisation's 6600 workers, Dr Clark said the CSIRO installation at Black Mountain in Canberra was now fully compliant with the ''improvement notice'' handed out by Commonwealth workplace safety authority Comcare last year.
''Misconduct procedures have been updated to include a health risk assessment, amendments have been made to reflect changes to the medical assessment process and we've updated our reporting and recording mechanisms,'' she wrote.
''We also have guidelines for the governance of complex cases.''
Of the two-stage review, Dr Clark said: ''Professor Pearce will investigate claims of former staff of bullying and harassment within the organisation … The investigation team will first seek submissions with the aim of providing an interim report by May 2013.
''We envisage that this report will cover the number and nature of claims made … It may also contain recommendations on matters that require further examination.
''This will occur in phase two of the review, which may take a further six months or more depending on the number of matters.''