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CSIRO to hold bullying inquiry

Commonwealth science agency the CSIRO will hold an independent investigation into claims of bullying and harassment within the organisation.

Chief Executive Megan Clarke told the agency's 6000 staff on Tuesday that an ''eminent and independent'' person would inquire into claims by former staff of mistreatment at various CSIRO workplaces.

The organisation has been dogged for several years by widespread claims, mostly by scientists, of bullying and harassment.

The complaints culminated this year in an ''improvement notice'' being issued by Commonwealth workplace insurer Comcare for the CSIRO installation at Canberra's Black Mountain.

In her message to staff, Dr Clark acknowledged that aggrieved former CSIRO workers had formed organised groups and recognised that they had been able to generate considerable publicity for their cause.

''I have, together with the board, decided to appoint an eminent and experienced independent person to review claims by former employees, ensure our duty of care has been met to these staff, assess whether previous investigations were adequate and recommend where further action is required and what lessons we can learn to build into our future strategies,'' Dr Clark announced.

''I share a deep concern with the community about any report that staff in CSIRO may have been bullied, harassed or mistreated and I have paused to reflect on how a trusted scientific organisation, held in high esteem globally, could be standing accused by some of its former staff of not being able to deal effectively with their issues.''

Dr Clarke also said the review would investigate some of the more central and common of the claims against the CSIRO, that workers had been threatened, silenced or intimidated by management.

''The key issues being raised by former staff include not having contributions to projects and publications adequately recognised, unfair dismissal, intimidation through performance management, unresolved disagreement on ownership of intellectual property, denying scientists 'free speech','' she wrote.

Dr Clark told staff that the terms of reference of the review were still to be finalised but that it would not provide a mechanism for financial compensation.

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