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Public servant flees town after chainsaw attack

Date

Noel Towell

The scene at Flax House after the incident took place.

The scene at Flax House after the incident took place. Photo: Jay Cronan

A terrified Department of Human Services public servant has left Canberra in the wake of last year’s chainsaw attack at the department’s Tuggeranong offices.

Other witnesses to the attack have praised the response of DHS bosses to the incident as “exceptional" and “really professional".

DHS workers were forced to dash to safety when former colleague Benjamin Dunne stormed the Tuggeranong office in March last year armed with a chainsaw.

The 35-year-old former bureaucrat, who was motivated by a grudge against his ex-employer, used the chainsaw to smash a hole in a window and get inside the building.

Dunne, who suffered from mental health problems at the time, had become fixated on a report about how he had related to women in the workplace. He was given a suspended sentence in the ACT Supreme Court last week.

Court documents said Dunne had worked at the DHS but left the job on bad terms and as payback, he formulated a plot to scare his former colleagues at Flax House.

The Canberra Times understands most of the witnesses to the attack have moved on with their lives and careers with the help of the department. Sources say the employees have been encouraged to talk to senior managers regarding any lingering problems and that resources have been made available to help anyone suffering ongoing trauma.

But is has all proved too much for one bureaucrat, who has quit their job and left the capital, fearful they might encounter Dunne again.

A DHS spokeswoman was tight-lipped when sent a list of questions from The Canberra Times. "For privacy reasons, it is not appropriate for us to provide any information relating to the staff who were involved in this incident," she said in a statement. "The safety of our staff is a top priority. Fortunately, no one was hurt as a result of the incident and staff followed appropriate security and safety procedures.

"Staff who were affected by the incident have been provided with ongoing support through the employee assistance program. Further assistance has been provided as required. We will continue to support staff."

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